The notorious Cape of Storms off Cape Town, South Africa, has lived up to its reputation, bringing an abrupt end to the chances of Britain’s Sam Davies and three other skippers in the Vendee Globe.
By Saturday evening, three damaged yachts in the round-the-world race had tottered into the safety of Cape Town Harbour.
Davies said her boat Initiatives-Coeur hit an unidentified floating object that brought the vessel to a sudden and horrific stop and damaged the keel.
“Three nights ago, it was a really violent collision that stopped the boat, and straight away I discovered all or part of the keel structure inside the boat was cracked,” she said.
Davies said that she was making food when the violent impact threw her across her cabin.
“I hurt my ribs and everything inside the boat just went flying, when everything stopped dead,” she said.
This is the third time Davies is participating in the grueling event. She placed fourth in the 2008-2009 edition and had to pull out early in the 2012-2013 edition due to dismasting.
“I was in the top 10. I was really happy with my race and how it was going. It’s a real shame that it has to finish like this,” the 46-year-old said.
Three other boats were also damaged in the raging waters.
Davies’ training mate, Frenchman Sebastien Simon, pulled into Cape Town Harbour several hours after she arrived.
Ironically Simon also had to sail for safety after his new-generation Arkea Paprec also struck an unidentified object in the ocean.
“We’ve ended up with the same bad luck in the same place,” Davies said. “Over the last few days, we’ve been exchanging messages and comforting each other for our communal bad luck.”
Fellow Briton Alex Thomson also reached Cape Town on Saturday. He suffered rudder damage in the Southern Ocean, forcing him to retire from the race.
Although Davies cannot formally continue the race after receiving outside help for repairs, she is determined to finish to support a charity that enables children with severe heart defects to be operated on in France.
“It’s a physical race, but it’s not the physical force that makes a difference it’s the mental force,” Davies said.
In a drama-filled week at sea, Kevin Escoffier had a narrow escape on Thursday when he was rescued by fellow competitor Jean Le Cam after a giant wave folded his boat in two.
Sailing serenely at the head of the fleet is Charlie Dalin.
At the helm of his new generation foil-equipped Apivia he was more than 388.4km clear of Thomas Ruyant’s LinkedOut.
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