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Sam Davies retires from Vendee Globe with keel damage

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British skipper Samantha Davies sails her Initiatives-Coeur after taking the start of the Vendee-Arctic-Les Sables d’Olonne solo monohull sailing race, in Les Sables-d’Olonne, western France on July 4. AFP

Sam Davies retires from Vendee Globe with keel damage

The notorious Cape of Storms off Cape Town lived up to its reputation this weekend, bringing an abrupt end to the chances of Britain’s Sam Davies and three other skippers in the Vendee Globe.

By December 5 evening, three damaged yachts in the round-the-world race had tottered into the safety of Cape Town harbour.

Davies said her boat, Initiatives-Coeur, hit a floating unidentified object that brought the vessel to a sudden and horrific stop and damaged the keel.

“Three nights ago, it was a really violent collision that stopped the boat. And straight away I discovered all or part of the keel structure inside the boat was cracked,” she said.

Davies said she was making food when the violent impact threw her across her cabin.

“I hurt my ribs and everything inside the boat just went flying, when everything stopped dead,” she said.

This is Davies’ third participation in the gruelling event. She placed fourth in the 2008-2009 edition and had to pull out early in the 2012-2013 edition due to dismasting.

Davies is one of only six women competing in the Vendee Globe.

“I was in the top 10. I was really happy with my race and how it was going. It’s a real shame that it has to finish like this,” the 46-year-old said.

Three other boats were also damaged in the raging waters.

Davies’ training mate, Frenchman Sebastien Simon, pulled into Cape Town Harbour several hours after she arrived.

Ironically Simon also had to sail for safety after his new-generation Arkea Paprec also struck an unidentified object in the ocean.

“We’ve ended up with the same bad luck in the same place,” Davies lamented.

“Over the last few days, we’ve been exchanging messages and comforting each other for our communal bad luck.”

Fellow Briton Alex Thomson also reached Cape Town on December 5 as he suffered rudder damage in the Southern Ocean, forcing him to retire from the race.

On December 3, French skipper Kevin Escoffier was rescued by fellow team mate Jean Le Cam, after his boat folded in two and sank.

Although Davies cannot formally continue the race after receiving outside help for repairs, she is determined to finish in order to support a charity which enables children with severe heart defects to be operated on in France.

“It’s a physical race but it’s not the physical force that makes a difference it’s the mental force,” said Davies.

The skipper will be cheering on her husband Romain Attanasio who is still in the competition.

“At least half of the family is still in the Vendee Globe,” she said with a smile.

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