WHEN Sam Davies sailed into the French port of Les Sables d’Olonne on February 14, 2009, she cemented her place in the history books.
The third skipper to cross the finish line of the 30,000-mile Vendée Globe round the world race, the 33-year-old became only the second British woman to complete the epic solo challenge.
Not since a little known Derbyshire sailor called Ellen MacArthur stormed to second in 2001 had there been such an achievement.
Davies was eventually knocked off the podium by Frenchman Marc Guillemot, who was awarded a time deduction for his part in the rescue of fellow competitor Yann Elies.
But the accomplishment spoke for itself – fourth out of 30 starters and the first of four Brits to make it back.
Now 37, Cambridge University engineering graduate Davies is back for another shot at Vendée Globe glory – but much has changed.
For a start, she has a family. Following the 2008/09 race, Davies married fellow solo sailor Romain Attanasio and in 2011 they had a son, Ruben.
It was also touch and go whether Davies would be able to secure sponsorship in time to put together a serious campaign. But just when it looked like Portsmouth-born Davies would suffer the same fate as fellow Hampshire yachtswoman Dee Caffari and watch the race from home, French strawberry and tomato producer Saveol came up with the money and kept her dreams of competing alive.
For that, she has her husband to thank.
“Romain has been a great supporter, and Saveol is actually HIS sponsor,” she said.
“It was his idea that they sponsor me for the Vendée Globe so he sacrificed his own sponsor for me. “In sailing terms that’s the ultimate display of love! “I’m very lucky to have such a good husband.
Read the full story in Will Carson's Sailsolent, in today's Daily Echo