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Page last updated at 12:16 GMT, Saturday, 14 February 2009

Davies completes Vendee marathon

Video from Sam Davies' epic voyage

Britain's Sam Davies has completed the Vendee Globe solo round-the-world race, crossing the finishing line in third.

The 34-year-old endured a frustrating night in calm water just 300 miles from the finish in Les Sables d'Olonne, where crowds arrived to greet her.

Davies now faces a wait to confirm her position because fourth-placed skipper Marc Guillemot was granted 50 hours more of redress than his British rival.

They both sailed to the aid of injured Yann Elies earlier in the race.

Davies said: "I'm not thinking about it. A top five result for me is just amazing. What happens will happen."

Davies delighted to finish third in Vendee

Britons Brian Thompson, Dee Caffari and Steve White are currently in fifth, sixth and eighth position respectively.

Davies, one of only two women competing, finished in a time of 95 days, four hours and 39 minutes, with redress.

That time, achieved in 60-foot yacht Roxy, makes her the second fastest female competitor after compatriot Ellen MacArthur in 2001.

Davies said she was amazed by the crowds that had gathered to witness her return.

"For me I've just done something normal. I've just been sailing on my boat," she said.

"It doesn't seem like an incredible thing and then I saw all those people and I was like, 'Oh my god, I've sailed around the world'."

Sam Davies
To be coming back in third place is something incredible and something I would never imagined to have achieved at the start

Sam Davies

She added: "One of the hardest moments was when Yann broke his leg. I was just worrying about him, knowing how much pain he was in. And it was the same with Jean Le Cam [who also had to be rescued].

"It brings home to you how fragile you are and how there are so many things beyond your control. It just takes one thing to go wrong and your race is over."

The four-yearly race has already been won by Frenchman Michel Desjoyeaux, who finished on 1 February after sailing 28,303.2 nautical miles in 84 days.

Compatriot Armel Le Cléac'h came second after 89 days on the seas, while 2004 winner Vincent Riou has been awarded joint third place as redress.

Davies must wait to see how Frenchman Guillemot, currently in fourth and 183.1 Nm behind, deals with the very light ridge she encountered on Thursday before starting celebrations.

Portsmouth-born Davies admitted the conditions on Thursday had made life on board her Open 60 yacht Roxy "very peaceful but frustrating".

She told BBC Breakfast News: "It's an amazing feeling of achievement to have sailed around the world singlehanded.


"Just to do that is amazing. To be coming back in third place is something incredible and something I would never imagined to have achieved at the start."

Davies encountered difficulties in December when she broke off from the race to help French sailor Elies who had broken his leg.

"I will return my time in the results so that shouldn't make a difference," Davies explained.

Thirty yachts entered the gruelling endurance race back in November, but just 11 look set to complete the course.

The town of Sables d'Olonne is planning a huge welcome home party for Davies, who lives and trains in France and who has kept web audiences enthralled on her journey via her blog in French and English.

The atmosphere here is gobsmacking; the whole of France seems to be turning out to greet Sam

Mark Davies, Sam's uncle, in Les Sables D'Olonne with her family

Davies' parents Paul and Jenny and her uncle Mark were in the harbour town eagerly awaiting her return.

Mark Davies, 64, of Walton on Thames in Surrey, said: "The atmosphere here is gobsmacking; the whole of France seems to be turning out.

"People here think the reception for Sam will be even greater than for the winner two weeks ago - there are hundreds of thousands of people descending on the town.

"Everyone is hiring boats and I expect there will be a large flotilla going out to meet her. You walk into a bar wearing a Roxy jacket and everyone wants to shake your hand."

He said Davies had developed a particular following in France because of her engaging video diaries.

"They have been bowled over by her blog entries because her natural ebullience has shone through. She has enjoyed everything the sea has thrown at her - and she has let people see it."

He said his niece's popularity was also down to the fact she had far exceeded pre-race expectations in a boat popular with the French.

The yacht, veteran of two previous Vendee Globe races under the command of Desjoyeaux and Riou, is now considered "old fashioned" and far slower than newer vessels (although many of these suffered breakages in the extreme conditions) and many observers thought a top 10 finish would have been a good achievement for Roxy.

see also
Davies rounds Cape Horn in Vendee
11 Jan 09 |  Other sport...
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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