Yachtswoman gets unexpected Christmas company

AFP , PARIS

Fri, Dec 26, 2008 - Page 20

For Samantha Davies, a competitor on the Vendee Globe round-the-world yacht race, Christmas Day brought some unexpected but welcome company.

One of the golden rules governing the Vendee Globe is that it’s a solo event, but organizers shouldn’t be too concerned at the visitors Davies received on board her yacht Roxy yesterday.

“I opened my presents this morning, and got all kinds of things, and I have to admit I’m no longer alone — I’ve got two men on board, a surfing Ken doll and a little male stripper!” she told Sky News.

One of only two women in the race Davies added: “It’s an amazing way to spend Christmas Day, it’s one I’ll remember for the rest of my life.”

“I’m going to have Christmas with my family when I get home,” she said.

Davies was last week involved in the dramatic rescue of stricken French sailor Yann Elies, steering off course to go to his rescue after he broke a leg in a storm in the southern Ocean.

“Luckily I didn’t have to do anything other than give him support and let him know I was coming if he needed me as the Australian navy were fantastic,” she said.

The 34-year-old Portsmouth-born yachtswoman added that Elies’ accident had given her food for thought as she tackles the Southern Ocean.

“It makes you realize that we’re all alone out here and not invincible and have to take care of ourselves. The most important thing is to get round the world,” she said.

Davies, who set out with the rest of the original 30-yacht flotilla last month, expects to cross the finish line at the Breton port of Les Sables d’Olonne at the beginning of February.

Yesterday she was lying almost 1500 nautical miles (2,800km) behind the lead boat skippered by Michel Desjoyeaux.

“I’m currently in eighth place which is a dream result as this is my first Vendee Globe and I was hoping for a top ten result. I’m working hard to make up a few more places before the finish.”