Captain’s log: Sam Davies and the therapy of the slow boat home

Sam Davies_201112
© Sam Davies / SAVEOL


Where are you now Sam and how’s Savéol?

“We’re 100 miles northeast Porto Santo (Madeira) and we’ve got 350 miles to go to Cascais. Savéol is OK, she’s never gone so slowly in her life I don’t think, but we’ve got a little jury right which we were finishing off this morning because we picked it up in a different port in Madeira. So we picked up the piece of broken mast and yesterday afternoon, whilst heading north under motor, we put the mast up and today we’re putting the storm jib on. We’re making the most of the winds being behind us because in about six hours time (1600hrs French time) we’re going to  have a front go over and we’re going to be upwind for 24 hours so it’s just going to be trying not to go backwards. After that we should have a good run in to Cascais.”

In your last night message you seemed to have begun the grieving process for your lost mast and the race, how does that feel now?

“The feelings are still strong but you don’t have the same fatigue. With a few days you have time to reflect on just how far you’ve got and what we achieved even just being there. I haven’t actually had time to think, which is really good I think.

“The worst thing that can happen is when you abandon a race and you have to get straight on a plane, because then it hits home really suddenly and in this case it’s actually been quite nice to go Madeira and have an objective to get Savéol back home to France so it’s kept me busy and it’s also kept me out watching French TV and being connected to the internet 24 hours a day. That’s what’s really hard when you see everyone else still racing and you just wish that you were there. I think it’s going to take us a long time to get Savéol home so that’s quite a nice way of gently coming back down to earth and not having that horrible shock anticlimax.”

We’ve been getting messages from people who don’t understand how you can get back on the boat so soon after your dismasting, can you explain?

“I was just dreading that Xavier (David), my team manager, was going to tell me I had to get on a plane home and go and see everybody. I think he realised that there was no way that I could do that and that it was better for me to stay here. I’m really, really, really tired and once you’ve got the mast in place it’s actually quite a nice way to rest. Which probably people may not understand either, but taking a boat a back slowly, when there aren’t so many things to do, means I will be able to get some sleep.”

What’s your strongest memory of the night your mast came down?

“The moment it broke and the moment of disbelief that it had happened and also wondering how on earth am I going to cut this off on my own in these conditions? Sometimes when you’re in really dangerous situations you have no memory whatsoever of what happened and how you dealt with it. But these memories will stay quite clear. When I cut the last rope connecting my mast to the boat and watching it float gently down into the ocean, that’s a pretty strong memory.”

You must have heard the news that Jérémie Beyou abandoning…

“We’re barely a week into the race and there are five of us already out. It’s just proof of how hard this race is and what a huge challenge it is. Nothing can comfort you but it reassures you that what you’ve done isn’t a failure because actually the achievement of finishing the race is so completely mega-amazing. Just taking part is a challenge and I think everyone is realising that and it’s not all about getting a result, it’s about doing the race and getting through it your way, whatever that is. I’m really sad for Jérémie, he was one of the skippers that I was expecting to be on the finish line on the podium. He had a great boat, tried and tested and the problem he’s had is something that is so completely impossible to predict or avoid.”

We’re only 10 days in, but Alex Thomson was third this morning, how do you rate his chances?

I said he’s the one who’s going to create the surprises amongst the French this time, he’s just confirming my suspicions at the start.


- Matthew Pryor

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