Sam Davies and her teammates will be the only all-female crew in the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race – and they’re prepped to win.
This October, Sam Davies will be setting off on the toughest challenge of her life. She is part of Team SCA, a group of 11 women, who are competing in this year’s Volvo Ocean Race – one of the world’s toughest team sporting events. Although 39-year-old Sam is a professional sailor, some of her teammates are new to the sport and have spent the summer training, but together they’ll make up the only all-female team to race their 65 foot-long boat over 38,000 nautical miles of ocean.
Sam and her team are on a mission to win the nine-leg race but they’ll face the most challenging of conditions along the way, working 24-hours a day and being at sea for weeks at a time. Impressed? You should be. We caught up with Sam to find out more…
You’re a seasoned sailor – what makes this mission different to others you’ve already completed?
The Volvo Ocean Race is about skill and endurance, but also adventure. I’ve sailed solo around the world, but never with a team, so this race will be all about making the boat go as fast as possible 100 per cent of the time which you can’t do sailing alone.
So, what excites you most about this race?
Team SCA is about creating a team of amazing women who will inspire others around the world, which wouldn’t be possible without SCA getting behind us. The most exciting thing is the places we get to go and the things we’ll see that nobody else can even pay to go and do! We circumnavigate the globe fuelled by nature (the wind) and experience things like a stormy sunrise, the green flash, Cape Horn, icebergs, killer whales, and albatrosses. They’re all part of our adventure and will be souvenirs in our minds for a lifetime.
The race kicks off in October – do you feel prepared? Confident that your all-women team will win?
I’m confident that we’ve done all we can to prepare for the race. We’ve been training hard and have all the support we could ask for from SCA and from our shore crew. The best bit about this race is that all the competitor boats are the same design, so we will be equal to all the male crews on the start line and it’s us sailors that will make the difference between winning or not, no excuses! This makes the race even closer and even harder to win, so it’s much more intense.
What will you miss most when you’re on the boat for long periods of time?
I think I would have to say my boys – my son Ruben and his dad Romain. Second to that, a shower, a bed that is warm and dry and doesn’t bounce you around, and some fresh fruit and vegetables and food.
Which women inspire you to succeed?
There are so many women who I am inspired by, especially the women who have gone before me in the sailing field. Tracy Edwards and Dame Ellen MacArthur, as well as all the women I have sailed with in the past. And now I can add all the wonderful ladies from Team SCA to the list.
Did the fact that you’re a mum affect your decision to compete in this race?
Yes, of course. It took a lot of consideration and a great deal of discussion with Romain before deciding to be a part of this once-in-a-lifetime challenge. It meant being away from my son and I’ll be desperate to see him every time we dock at port, but he too has been given an amazing opportunity to travel the world with my own support team – my family.
Do you feel like sailing is still a male-dominated sport?
There are definitely still more male sailors in any of the top races like the Volvo Ocean Race and the America’s Cup, but happily we are seeing more and more females emerge in the sport, especially in the Olympics and world championships. I think this campaign will be a turning point for professional female sailors because we’re hoping we’ll help women realise that competing in a race like this is achievable, just a far off hope or dream. With support from companies like SCA, who are so committed to the empowerment of women, we feel like we can start turning things around.
What do you think can be done to introduce more young women into sailing?
Projects like this help so much. These opportunities to be part of the biggest races alongside men will change the world of sailing for women. They’ll realise that professional sailing is an option for them and hopefully it will encourage young sailors to pursue the sport to a higher level. At the end of the day, it often comes down to personal determination – I think that everyone in this team has made their way here through taking any opportunity possible, sailing on any boat they can, to get a step further into the sport.
Find out more about the Volvo Ocean Race and Team SCA by visiting teamsca.com.