Davies delighted to be lining up for Vendée Globe

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Alex Alley, from Gosport.

Picture: Sarah Standing (151832-9304) PPP-151030-175051001

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The Vendée Globe is universally acknowledged as the toughest solo sailing event around.

There’s a case to be made, however, that Sam Davies has done the hard bit well ahead of it’s November 10 start.

Just getting to the line has been a great achievement for the Portsmouth-born racing star.

Despite her fantastic fourth-place finish on her debut outing four years ago, she’s found it an uphill struggle to find a sponsor for the non-stop round-the-world race.

The Finistere-based star is the only female skipper and goes into the race with headline backing from French tomato producer Savéol.

Crucially, she also has 14 other companies onboard with sponsorship.

‘I am just so relieved to be here, because two years without a sponsor or with people saying ‘‘maybe, maybe, maybe...no’’ was really frustrating,’ said Davies.

‘So it is a big treat to be on the start line.’

Davies, 38, is one of three Brits taking part, alongside Mike Golding and Alex Thomson, who both retired from the event last time out.

Titchfield’s Dee Caffari had hoped to go again but could not secure sponsorship – a source of regret to her friend.

‘I am a bit sad for Dee – sad that I am the only girl,’ said Davies.

‘Dee should be there as well and that is frustrating.’

Davies will be left flying the flag when she goes aboard her 2004 vintage Open 60 – a veteran of two Vendées and the Barcelona World Race.

Although the Marc Lombard design has suffered a succession of keel problems and failures, these are now hopefully sorted with a brand new appendage for the latest edition.

Davies said: ‘The thing is that this boat and the races it hasn’t finished have all been because of the keel.

‘The rest of the boat seems to be pretty solid, tried and tested. And also it is not the fastest, lightest boat in the fleet.

‘I am playing the ‘‘I have a solid, tried-and-tested boat’’ – that is my joker.

‘But I am in a nice position to be on my nice, solid boat, maybe slightly slower with a great set of sponsors.

‘In terms of the boat being ready and me being ready – it is not going to be rushed in that respect. In terms of knowing my boat inside out, for sure I don’t know it inside out and I am on a big road of discovery right now.

‘I will be taking more than 76 days of food because, like last time, even if I broke my boom or something happens, I still want to do everything I can to finish the race.

‘I’d rather not do an Yves Parlier (who fixed his own mast after dismasting in 2000 and ended up living off seaweed), but if there is some sort of compromise just to finish and be the first girl to have finished two Vendée Globes, then I will do everything I can.

‘It is quite nice to be on a boat that is not the fastest in the fleet and not have everyone going ‘‘you are one of the favourites’’.’

Davies is still on the hunt for a top-up sponsor.

She added: ‘It would be nice if there was a British sponsor that wants to come and give me a little bit of help.

‘That Brit sponsor would get the Transat Jacques Vabre as well, if he did that.

‘And if he gave me a little bit more, Savéol will share the name of the boat next year.’