The 2012 Vendee Globe is set to get underway in just over four days and Sam Davies, Savéol skipper, will bring her charming smile to this year’s edition. This brave young mother is also a true sea lover. For her second participation, Sam seems quite calm and confident in her project. She tells us more about it.
Samantha Davies, Saveol - 2012 Vendee Globe
Hello Sam, how are you feeling?
I’m impatient, I can’t wait to go. I’m a bit overawed by all the public even if I did the Vendée four years ago. I can’t remember this many people. There are little differences because I’m the only girl doing the race and there is quite a lot of attention around my project. It’s nice to see everyone is here to support me and encourage me. Sometimes is quite tiring because everyone wants a photo or an autograph. Making my way to the boat can take a long time…
How does it feel to be the only woman to compete?
It’s just for here. When you are on the water, there is no difference. There is no category, no division like skiing. During the last Vendée Globe I did keep quite pleasant contact with the other girls and I won’t have any girlfriend on this race to send her girls jokes (laugh).
You are going for your second Vendée Globe, after your fourth place in 2008, what are your expectations for this edition?
It’s very hard to have too many expectations because you can’t expect it to be the same as last time. I’m not waiting for something to happen but in terms of performance I’d really like to do better than last time. But it’s going to be hard when you see all the competitors I’ll line up against. I think the level gets higher and higher. My Savéol is a great boat even if she is a little bit older than some of the favorites. On paper we don’t go as fast as they do, so I’m just going to do my race. I hope everyone will be proud of me at the finish.
What steps did you take to make sure you’re ready?
I am part of the training centre in Port-la-Forêt. We’ve done quite a lot of training with the other competitors on the water, both offshore and inshore. I also do gym work when I can, especially on core stability. I did some weather study in Port-La-Forêt. I have a lot of sponsors and partners on this project so I’ve done also a lot of sailing to show them the boat.
'I was left far behind'
During your training sessions in Port-la-Forêt, who won the races?
Sometimes Armel Le Cléac’h, sometimes François Gabart, sometimes Jean-Pierre Dick, sometimes Vincent Riou. In every training session I was left far behind...
Can you tell us about your boat?
I think my Savéol knows the race quite well because she was Veolia last time and had a very good master before me (note: Roland Jourdain). I’m getting to know her this year but I still have a lot of things to learn because I’ve only been sailing since March. I’ve leant a lot but I know there is much more I can learn about her and make her go faster and faster. I’ve worked hard in the past few weeks to maximise what I’ll have to do for the race.
Romain Attanasio said you might not have the fastest boat, but it could be an advantage. Do you agree?
Samantha Davies, Saveol - 2012 Vendee Globe
I am quite happy going into the race with a boat that knows the route. The boat has been very well tried, tested and broken. It’s good to break because we can find all the weak points. My boat has seen a lot of little refits. The last race around the world she did, she finished, and did pretty well. It was a double-handed race and they really push hard on the boat. She quite loves hard conditions.
Do you have any fears for this coming Vendée Globe?
No. I think if I had fears I wouldn’t be here. I’m not afraid of being afraid. I know I will be afraid at some point in the race but I also know I’ll do everything I can to manage each situation that can be difficult or scary. This is why the training preparation is so important, to be confident in your sailing.
'I have a bit of sea water in my veins'
Can you describe the race in your own words?
It’s just an amazing race and I am really happy to be able to do it for the second time.
Are there some places you cannot wait to see again?
A lot of places, but especially the southern oceans, because it’s somewhere we don’t go often. I have great souvenirs of the last Vendée Globe and the very strong, windy and fast conditions that we had in the southern oceans. Despite the cold, I really enjoyed that. So the southern oceans and also the Cape Horn I can’t wait to see.
Everyone says that you are a true sea lover; can you tell us more about that?
I am really happy when I am at sea. It’s part of my life and I can’t live without being on the sea or around the sea. I was born in a sailing family and I think I have a bit of sea water in my veins. It makes me happy when I’m on the ocean, whatever the conditions are. I like being out there and sometimes it’s hard to come home.
'If you enjoy life, you get the most out of it'
Was it easy for you to tell your parents you were going to be a professional sailor?
They are really proud of me and they never pushed me. What is great about my parents is that they always say 'you only live once and you have to enjoy your life'. If you enjoy life, you get the most out of it. It’s a great thing they taught me, and I’m going to teach my son as well.
Roger Capitaine, the CEO of Savéol, said you were part of the Savéol Family. Do you feel the same?
It’s quite like that. Even if I’ve only been sailing with Savéol since March, it’s something that started during the last Vendée Globe when I took some Savéol tomatoes with me. That’s how I met them and Romain met them. He was sponsored for two years. For me it really is a family because I was the skipper wife and I met a lot of producers and people who work with Savéol. It’s a relationship that is very good because when it developed it wasn’t sponsor – skipper. I think what they do is amazing, not just the fruits but also the biological production. All the producers are good friends and welcome me very nicely wherever I go. We have many things in common like the weather and climate analysis. We all spend a lot of time looking at the sky. I hope they’ll be proud of me in the next three months.
You are a young mother now, how are going to deal with the distance between you and your child?
His father is going to take care of him. It’s very important for a young child to see his parents happy. And to have his parents happy, his mum has to go sailing (She laughs). It’s great Romain is giving up himself for the next three months and he will look after Ruben. That’s better than any Christmas present anyone can hope for. I’m very proud, I have a great partner and Ruben has a great dad to look after him. I'm not worried or stressed about that. Probably in twenty years’ time we’ll be here and he’ll be going. I never experience this during a race…
One particular thing about the Vendée Globe is that you race solo and you are going to spend Christmas and New Year’s Eve by yourself. How will it feel like?
Last time it was one of the best Christmases I ever had because I had more presents than I normally do. Everyone was like: 'she is going to be on her own, I have to give her a present, to send her a message'. It was really amazing and it’s only once every four years.
Do you need to communicate a lot with the land when you are at sea?
It’s nice to communicate but not too much by phone, more by messages. It’s nice to receive them, even from people I don’t know. It helps me a lot but it’s nice to choose when. Even more now, we are always connected and it’s going to be quite a good break for the twenty of us.
Vendee Globe website