Davies arrives home at end of 'really tough' Vendee

Les Sables-d'Olonne (France) (AFP) –


British skipper Samanatha Davies arrived back in Les Sables d'Olonne on Friday after over 100 days at sea during which she had to abandon the round-the-world single-handed Vendee Globe.

The 46-year-old, one of six women among the 33 boats that started the race on November 8, crossed the Equator in ninth on the way out but on the 25th day of the race her boat Initiatives Coeur hit an unidentified floating object in the Cape of Good Hope.

Two days later, she gave in to the inevitable and headed to Cape Town for repairs, abandoning the race on December 5.

Rather than stop, however, when the repairs were done she chose to continue the course, setting off again on December 14.

"It's a lot harder for someone who is used to racing, and used to being close to other competitors, and pushing the boat comparing every ranking, comparing with competitors close by," she said in Friday's press conference.

"I set off from Cape Town and there was nobody, and I was alone, and I was behind all the fleet.

"The second part of this round-the-world... was really, really tough, and I guess it makes arriving here in Les Sables-d'Olonne even more of a victory for me."

Her motivation for continuing came through her desire to give some visibility to her sponsor "Initiatives Coeur" which works to save children suffering from severe heart defects.

"At present, we have saved 102 children," thanks to this round-the world tour, she said.

One of them, Junior, a little Ivorian boy who had heart surgery in Nantes during the race, accompanied her into harbour after she had crossed the symbolic finish line, cheered on by a lively crowd enjoying the spring sunshine.

In Sables-d'Olonne, Davies, who was participating in her third Vendee Globe, was reunited with her nine-year-old son Ruben, whom she had not seen since setting sail 110 days before.

She was also greeted by her partner, Romain Attanasio who earned family bragging rights by finishing 14th in his boat Pure-Best Western, completing his circumnavigation in 90 days, 10 days behind the winner Yannick Bestaven.