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Davies rounds Cape Horn in Vendee

Davies was dismasted before reaching the Horn on Maiden in 1998

British yachtswoman Sam Davies rounded Cape Horn off the tip of South America in fourth place in the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race on Sunday.

The 34-year-old passed the iconic landmark at 0920 GMT in 40-knot winds and big seas, 62 days and 21 hours after leaving Les Sables d'Olonne.

"It's incredible to be here, especially after horrible conditions over past 24 hours," Davies told the race website.

"I am a bit sad, though, to leave the Pacific after such a great voyage."

Davies, the leading Briton out of the three left in the fleet, revealed that her Open 60 yacht Roxy was knocked flat by a savage squall in the notorious seas at the Horn.

There was some big surf and it was the first time I've been afraid in this voyage

Sam Davies
"I've had 50-knot winds, so it was a relief to see the rock, as the boat went right over during the night," she said.

"I had to wait for the wind to drop to 40 knots to gybe. Now we still have 42 knots with the boat sailing at peak speeds of 25 knots on the waves.

"I'm still enjoying myself, even if yesterday when I was sailing in the shallower waters off the Horn, where the sea bed rises from 4000 metres down to less than 100 metres, there was some big surf and it was the first time I've been afraid in this voyage."

In 1998, Davies was a member of Tracy Edwards's all-girl crew when their giant catamaran Maiden was dismasted before rounding the Horn on a round-the-world record attempt.

"I can put it on my CV now," Davies added. "I've waited 11 years to round this rock and it's great to be back in the Atlantic.

"The objective is to get back to Les Sables d'Olonne, and I hope to be there in four weeks. The position in the rankings is just a bonus."

606: DEBATE
Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux on board Foncia leads the race by more than 220 nautical miles from countryman Roland Jourdain.

The pair are south east of Rio de Janeiro and heading back up the South Atlantic to the finish back on France's west coast.

Another Frenchman Armel Le Cleach is in third, 710 nautical miles behind the leader and more than 1,000 nautical miles clear of Davies.

Britain's Brian Thompson is in fifth place and is set to round the Horn late on Tuesday or early Wednesday, while compatriots Dee Caffari (8th) and Steve White (9th) are still deep in the Southern Ocean.

Eighteen yachtsmen out of the 30 starters, including Britons Alex Thomson, Mike Golding and Jonny Malbon, have already retired from the gruelling race.

The most dramatic incident involved Frenchman Vincent Riou, who won the last edition in 2005.

Sam Davies on her solo New Year celebrations

Riou was forced to pull out last week after losing his mast in the rescue of fellow Frenchman Jean Le Cam while rounding Cape Horn.

Le Cam had been in third place when his boat VM Materiaux dramatically overturned in high winds west of the cape.

Golding, whose boat Ecover 3 was dismasted in the Southern Ocean in December only hours after taking the lead, has questioned the safety of the new-generation racing boats used in the 27,000-mile race which made a name of Ellen MacArthur in 2001.

"Engineers have a lot of questions to answer, and the designers," the 48-year-old skipper told the Sunday Times.

Golding was particularly critical of the keel failure that caused Swiss skipper Dominique Wavre to abandon.

"Both Dominique and I had specified separately that we wanted a keel to get us round the Vendee Globe," the paper reported Golding as saying.

"We said, 'Don't risk anything, don't minimise it, make it last', but it failed and no one wants to be responsible. I was furious about Dominique's keel failure."

see also
Malbon retires from Vendee Globe
05 Jan 09 |  Other sport...
New Year at sea for solo sailor
01 Jan 09 |  Business
Injured yachtsman rescued by navy
20 Dec 08 |  Other sport...
'Gutted' Golding abandons Vendee
16 Dec 08 |  Other sport...
Thomson pulls out of Vendee Globe
13 Nov 08 |  Other sport...
Racing around the world
07 Nov 08 |  Other sport...
Vendee Globe yachts get under way
09 Nov 08 |  Technology
British hope suffers Vendee blow
17 Oct 08 |  Other sport...


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