Motherhood won’t stop super Sam

Sam Davies celebrates her fourth spot in the 2009 Vendee Globe on board Roxy, with some aptly-named Champagne
Sam Davies celebrates her fourth spot in the 2009 Vendee Globe on board Roxy, with some aptly-named Champagne
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Sam Davies says she’s still on course to be a contender in next year’s Vendee Globe – despite expecting a baby in September.

Portsmouth’s 36-year-old solo sailing star – who came fourth in the last edition of the single-handed, non-stop round-the-world race – hasn’t let her pregnancy slow her down so far.

However, she admits the new arrival will be a major sea change.

‘I’m more worried about being a success as a mother than I ever was as a sailor,’ said the now Brittany-based yachtswoman.

‘I’ve had great training regarding the sleep rhythms – it’ll be like being on a boat but I won’t have to put my boots on when I wake up in the middle of the night.’

While working on securing backing for the Vendee, which starts on October 21 next year, Davies has been training with the Figaro fleet.

And she raced in the recent Spi Ouest regatta with friends aboard a J/80.

The former Portsmouth High School student had hoped to compete in the Figaro’s class Solo Transat race from Benodet to Martinique back in April before wiser council prevailed.

‘To start with I thought I would be fine,’ she said.

‘Four months pregnant – you are in top form, and the doctors were like ‘‘you’re mad – don’t you realise you can’t be in the middle of an ocean there are things that can happen that aren’t predictable, even if you’re the healthiest of people”.’

The opposing demands of motherhood and topline racing proved irreconcilable for double Olympic gold medallist Sarah Ayton last year.

And they saw her abandon her 2012 campaign before retiring from sailing.

Admirers of the talented Davies can only hope she can strike a balance.

Her partner, Romain Attanasio, is also a solo sailor but she is hopeful they can find a way to balance priorities.

‘He is doubly happy about being a potential dad because he didn’t want me to be racing in the Figaro against him,’ said Davies.

‘It is good if we don’t race in the same classes, there is a hope there will at least be one parent at home.

‘But at the end of the day you never know how you are going to feel about leaving your child until you actually have one.’

In the meantime, Davies is still without a sponsor for the Vendee.

And though the slot for a new build has passed, she is optimistic about finding backing and a competitive older boat.

‘I have a lot of feelers out and I am still optimistic, but no-one has found the money yet, so there are a lot of good boats available.

‘The thing with the Vendee is, it is so not about pure boat speed, as I showed with Roxy before.

‘For me, I want to go and do a race that I enjoy first of all and feel that I have done better than last time.

‘So it will get to the stage where if I haven’t found the money, I’d rather not go and do it just to sail around the world.

‘I am quite optimistic still because I need to find money by the end of the year to be able to make that work.’