Sam and Roxy ready for Vendée Globe

Roxy, Sam Davies - image François Van Malleghem / Roxy
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British female sailor Sam Davies is ready to take on the 2008 Vendée Globe following a summer refit for her IMOCA Open 60 racing yacht ‘Roxy’. After a valiant fifth place in the 2008 Artemis Transat in May, the highest placed Briton in the fleet, Sam and Roxy are now focused on completing the 45,000 kilometre race around the globe, referred to as the sailor’s Everest.

Although this is Sam’s first Vendée Globe, Roxy has a rich heritage in the race – she is ex-PRB, winner of the past two races and current holder of the Vendée Globe record of 87 days 10 hours and 47 minutes.

Sam has been preparing for the 2008 Vendée Globe for almost two years. Since being named skipper of Roxy at the end of 2006, Sam and her Open 60 have successfully completed a draft of gruelling ocean races designed to give Sam invaluable experience ahead of her departure on 9 November. At home in Brittany in the final weeks before the race, Sam commented:

'I’m just unbelievably excited that the race is finally here. My shore crew and I have been working towards the Vendée for a long time, so to see all the boats together in the race village in Les Sables d’Olonne, ready to go, is amazing. There is a nice relaxed atmosphere in the race village amongst the skippers too, even as race day approaches and the pressure mounts.'

Sam Davies on Roxy
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Over the summer, Roxy has undergone a refit to ensure she is one of the most competitive in the field despite the number of newer boats in the fleet.

The fine-tuning of Roxy will ensure she is ready to perform to her full potential during the race, which is sure to stretch her to the extreme. Talking about her pink boat, Sam commented:

'The summer refit was actually more of a check-up as Roxy was pretty much ready before the Artemis Transat. We replaced all the lashings on the boat and spent time anti-fouling the hull, but apart from that we were really happy with her condition – it was probably the most relaxing period in the whole Vendée build-up!'

Sam has also been completing training of her own in the months leading up to the race: 'I have been doing a lot of weather courses to try and pick up more knowledge about the typical conditions I’ll be encountering during the race. I’ve been practising with archive data and getting to know the latest technology and software I’ll be using on Roxy. At one point I even sailed around the world in a day on a virtual weather simulator. September was spent completing more sail training alongside the best of the French Vendée skippers, running the boat in, that kind of thing.'

On the whole, Sam is remarkably relaxed about the huge undertaking she is about to begin: 'We have prepared so well for the race that I am not too worried about the boat. I just hope that we have no major breakages that are out of my control. The part I’m least looking forward to is the start, as everyone will be there to see me and I don’t want to let them down by making a mistake. As for the race itself, my only objective at the moment is to finish.'

Sam Davies and facts about the Vendée Globe

- Sailors will cover approximately 24,500 kilometres of water in a race around the globe starting and finishing in Les Sables d’Olonne, France

- Over 1 million spectators are expected to pass through the race village in the next 10 days

- The Vendée Globe is considered by many as the world’s toughest sporting event

- The sailor’s Everest: only 44 people have ever completed the race, compared with over 1000 who have climbed Everest

- 30 boats, including 2 women, 7 British skippers make up the largest fleet in the history of the race