After competing in the Volvo Ocean Race aboard Team SCA, Sam Davies is to return to IMOCA racing. On 25th October, she will be lining up at the start of the Transat Jacques Vabre and with Tanguy de Lamotte at her side they will be the only mixed team in the 60-foot category. Having competed in the last two Vendée Globe races (4th in 2008-2009, retired in 2012-2013), the British sailor has not ruled out a third attempt, but if it does come, it will be in 2020, with a solid project. vendeeglobe.org met up with her to find out more.
Sam, you must be pleased to be back sailing on an IMOCA after your experience with the all-woman crew, Team SCA in the Volvo Ocean Race, the crewed round the world race with stopovers.
Sam Davies: “Yes, I’m really pleased to be returning, as I left the IMOCA circuit shortly after losing my mast in the last Vendée Globe. I was contacted by Team SCA during the delivery trip from Madeira back to les Sables-d’Olonne. I then quickly set off to do the tests. It was a good way to get over the disappointment of being forced out of the Vendée Globe. The Volvo Ocean Race was a fascinating race, but also very demanding, so I didn’t really have time to think about IMOCA racing. But now I’m back racing on a 60-foot boat, I realise how much I was missing it.”
Why did you agree to Tanguy de Lamotte’s proposal?
S.D.: “To start off with, I turned him down (laughs)! Tanguy contacted me early on in the Volvo. I thought I would need a lot of time after the race to get back into the swing of things and get together with the family again. I thought I would be a sailor’s wife for the Transat Jacques Vabre (Romain Attanasio, Sam Davies’s partner is sailing in the race with Louis Burton, editor’s note). Tanguy was very patient and I ended up changing my mind, as it was an opportunity, which I simply couldn’t turn down. It’s nice to sail double-handed after a round the world race with eleven people on board. I’ve known Tanguy for a long time. We met in the Mini circuit back in 2001. We have already won one race together: the prologue to the 2001 Mini Fastnet aboard Brian Thompson’s boat. So our success rate is 100% for now (laughs). I get on really well with Tanguy and we have the same way of sailing. We are both competitive, but don’t like stress and shouting. It’s great to be able to sail calmly and enjoy ourselves.”
Was it easy to get used to things on board?
S.D.: “You don’t forget how to sail an IMOCA. I have spent so much time on these boats. On Initiatives-Cœur, I can see some things in common with my previous two IMOCA boats. It did take a little time to settle in, as the VOR65, the Volvo monohulls, are very different from the IMOCAs. They are one-design boats ( each boat is identical – editor’s note) and much heavier, so they cannot be sailed solo or even with two on board. There were always four or five of us out on the deck, so it’s a different job.”
There is an incredible line-up for the Transat Jacques Vabre with 20 IMOCAs competing. That too is different from the Volvo Ocean Race, where there were only seven boats…
S.D.: “Yes, it’s great to see such a big fleet of such a high standard. There will be plenty of boats from the same generation as Initiatives-Cœur (a Farr designed boat from 2006, editor’s note) and we will be doing battle with them. That’s our own little fight. But we won’t forget that Tanguy’s personal goal is the Vendée Globe. With a year to go to the round the world race, this Transat Jacques Vabre will be a good opportunity for us to think about to improve the boat and how to help Tanguy do even better.”
The question on everyone’s lips is whether you will be returning to the IMOCA class with the aim of competing in the next Vendée Globe?
S.D.: “No, I’m not looking any further ahead than the Transat Jacques Vabre. The Vendée Globe is too soon and I don’t want to rush into it. My project with Saveol in the 2012-2013 race was set up at the last moment and my preparation period was too short. If one day the right opportunity pops up, I’ll set off again, but I need time to prepare and train.”
So you may be there in 2020?
S.D.: “Yes, I’ll be in les Sables d’Olonne on 6th November 2016 for the start of the next Vendée Globe and I’m sure that seeing that atmosphere will mean that I will want to set off again. I love this race and have some great memories of taking part, including the second time. I don’t regret anything, in spite of being forced to retire, as I experienced some incredible moments. Mishaps are part of the adventure. It’s an enriching experience dealing with a dismasting when you are alone in 35 knots of wind…”
Interview with Olivier Bourbon / Mer & Media Agency