Sam Davies' Vendee Globe challenge potentially over after 'violent' collision

Tom Cary
·2-min read
Groupe Apicil skipper Damien Seguin and Yes We Cam! skipper Jean Le Cam  - Reuters
Groupe Apicil skipper Damien Seguin and Yes We Cam! skipper Jean Le Cam - Reuters

Sam Davies has described the “violent” collision which sent her flying across her boat, injuring her ribs, but more importantly, potentially ending her Vendee Globe challenge.

After compatriot Alex Thomson was forced to stop racing last weekend following a collision with sea debris which caused his boat Hugo Boss irreparable rudder damage, now Davies’ race is in jeopardy.

The 46 year-old, who finished fourth in the 2008/9 edition and was dismasted on her second attempt four years later, was on Thursday night lying in 14th place having turned her boat back towards shelter at Cape Agulhas, east of Cape Town, to assess whether she can continue.

The latest incident in a race which is turning into a war of attrition happened overnight on Wednesday after Davies gybed in 30-35knots of wind. 

“That had gone well,” she recounted on Thursday. “I was happy with where I was. I was actually just making a hot meal after the gybe and the stack and everything and it was just starting to get dark. I hit something. I did not see anything. I did not know what it was. It was pretty much dark when it happened. But it was as if I had run aground on a rock at the time. 

“The boatspeed went from 20kts to zero. The boat nosedived on the impact with the keel. I knew it was the keel. I heard a crack coming from there. I and everything else flew forwards, including my dinner which has repainted the entire inside of my boat. Everything moved. 

“I went flying into a ring frame, luckily, because that could have been worse. It was really violent. But luckily I have just hurt some ribs. It is not serious but really painful.”

Davies stopped sailing, dropping the mainsail, and went around checking everything, liaising with her shore team, boat architects and structural engineers to check she was not in any immediate danger. They concluded that she was safe “unless I sail fast”.

“So I am heading slowly towards Cape Town because that is the nearest shelter and we are continuing to assess the damage and what to do with my shore team who are being amazing,” she added.

Davies’s is the latest alarming incident in a race which has already seen one race favourite restart, another two pull out, including Thomson, and the dramatic rescue of a fourth from his life raft after his boat “folded in two” in the South Atlantic earlier this week.