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Sam Davies © Olivier Blanchet/Alea#VG2020
Vendée Globe 2020

Sam Davies – sailor of hearts

🇬🇧 Sam Davies is a fighter who plays at the top of the Vendée Globe. Dee Caffari has already sailed the Volvo Ocean Race with her.

5 Minuten

„Good evening, Earth“ – this is how poetically Samantha Davies recently bid farewell to the day during the Vendée Globe: This is the beginning of a small social media post from aboard her yacht „Initiatives Coeur“, which was just rushing into the sunset while writing. „The ship glides under a magnificent starry sky, no moonlight, what a show!“

This joy is not an act: Samantha, also called „Sam“, is a fun-loving person. She radiates a fundamental satisfaction, which only emphasizes her great passion for the sea and sailing. Even small incidents can’t change that: One day before, the skipper discovered that a can of sardines in her supply was damaged. The escaping oil had soaked a storage bag. „It takes more to dampen Sam’s good mood,“ wrote Sam Davies happily.

Samantha Davies is a hugely successful sailor taking part in this Vendee Globe on her boat, ‘Initiatives Coeur’. She is British but lives in France with her partner Romain Attanasio, also competing this year on Pure – Best Western, making them the first couple to have both completed a Vendee Globe and also the first couple to both be racing in the same Vendee Globe.

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Sam hugs her husband Romain Attanasio, who also sails along © Jan Marie Liot/Alea#VG2020

Farewell to the son

As Sam waved to the cameras to say goodbye to her huge fan base, she also gave a loving farewell to Romain. I am sure those emotions at that moment were mixed. Both sailors know the risks involved in participating in this race and both sailors had to say goodbye to their son, Ruben, aged 9. But I am sure they will be communicating out on the oceans on a regular basis keeping each other motivated and sending encouragement.

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Green foils and rudder: Sam designed her yacht herself © Eloi Stichelbaut

An engineering graduate from Cambridge University, Sam has a very technical approach to her boat’s development during the preparation for this race. Her boat has finished on the podium each time it has raced in the Vendee Globe. Originally built in 2010 at CDK Technologies in France and designed by VPLP, it has finished in 2nd place with Armel Le Cleac’h as Banque Populaire in the 2012 race and in 3rd place with Jeremie Beyou as Maitre Coq in the last edition.

With second generation foils

The boat had first generation foils fitted for the last edition of the race and now Sam has fitted second generation foils that are extreme in length, allowing her to reduce her mast height, take some weight out the bulb of the keel and reduce her headsail area, suiting her style of sailing.

Vendee Globe 2020
The sponsor Initiatives Coeur is committed to children with heart disease © Yvan Zedda/Alea#VG2020

Mast breakage was luck in misfortune

Sam’s experience is immense and has ranged from a Jules Verne attempt with Royal Sun Alliance in 1998, to the Mini 6.50 and the hugely competitive Figaro circuit which is a breeding ground for Vendee Globe Sailors. Her first Vendee Globe in 2008 on Roxy, saw her finish in 4th place, allowing her to believe that she could win this event. A disappointing dismasting in the 2012 race shattered her dreams but allowed her to be available to take on the skipper’s role of Team SCA for the Volvo Ocean Race in 2014.

Vendee Globe 2020
White heart on the rear: The logo of Initiatives Coeur © Yvan Zedda/Alea#VG2020

Surrounding herself with accomplished sailors and coaches, Sam absorbed further skills to make her one of the most well-rounded sailors out racing today. She genuinely loves being out there and her happy nature makes her a perfect fit with Initiative Coeur. In 2017 she joined Tanguy De Lamotte for the Transat Jacques Vabres race and it was after this race she was chosen to take over the lead role for the project with Initiatives Coeur.

Her sponsors K Line and Vinci Energie have agreed that for every ‘like’ click on social media for the race they will donate 1€ to the charity Mécénat Chirurgie Cardiaque, a Foundation based in France, which enables children with heart malformations but no access to treatment in their own countries, to be operated on.

Start as a synchronized swimmer

Before her sailing career took off Sam was a competitive synchronised swimmer and has remained a keen swimmer ever since. She works as hard at her fitness and psychological preparation as she does her boat preparation and she surrounds herself with a knowledgeable team that she works well with a trusts to enable her to have the confidence to get the best out of herself and her boat.

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Sam Davies was skipper of the female crew at the Volvo Ocean Race 2014/15 © Ian Splinter/CC BY-SA 4.0

Her communication is fun loving and highlights her happy disposition displaying her obvious passion for being out at sea and sailing well. Apart from looking to be on that podium as a naturally competitive sailor, Sam would like to beat Armel Le Cleac’h time of 74 days and not forgetting her other incentive each day she faces the harsh environment that mother nature throws her way, she hopes to raise enough money for the charity to save 60 children with live saving operations.

Learning a lot sailing with Sam

I have had the honour to sail both with and against Sam. We sailed together on my IMOCA to secure the Round Britain and Ireland Record in 2009 and then we sailed together on Team SCA to beat that record in 2014. I was part of her team in the Volvo Ocean Race and I have been a huge fan watching her preparation for this edition of the Vendee Globe. I have learnt a lot from watching and following her. She really does help you be the best version of yourself. I also made sure I sent her some morale boosting treats to be packed into her supplies for the race to send my love and encouragement for when times get difficult.

Vendee Globe 2020
She is a role model and inspiration to so many © Maxime Horlaville/Polaryse

She will be one to watch for this race for sure and while she may not have the fastest boat on paper, we know that she has great consistency and can maintain the pressure for the duration of this race. There is absolutely no reason why Samantha Davies could not be on the podium and I for one would be so proud of her achievements at the end of this race no matter the result. She is a role model and inspiration to so many of us and she sets the bar super high for future sailors who aspire to race in the Vendee Globe.

Successful right from the start

Sam Davies is in a very good position since she started. In this moment she is 9th and has just crossed the equator. See her on the tracker here.

Sam Davies recently gave a detailed interview to the Royal Yachting Association.

Where is the regatta field currently located? Click here for the race tracker.

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