YACHTSMAN OF THE YEAR !!!!
Sam Davies wins 2009 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year British yachtswoman Sam Davies is the 2009 YJA Pantaenius Yachtsman of the Year, beating off challenges from Laser Olympic gold medallist and World Champion Paul Goodison and Ian Williams, two times World Match Racing champion.
Accolade: Sam Davies is one of the top offshore racers in the world Photo: AFP The popular 36 year-old sailor from Portsmouth, who came fourth in the 2008-09 Vendee Globe and was the first of four Britons to complete the race, was presented with her award by Sir Robin Knox Johnston at a special presentation at Trinity House in which RYA chief executive Rod Carr's contribution to British Yachting was also marked with a YJA Special Award.
Carr will retire next month after 25 years at the RYA, including 10 as CEO, though he will continue to assist the RYA in their preparations for the London Olympics in two year TIMES.Davies has risen through the ranks to become one of the top offshore racers in the world, with the best record of any among the current female skippers.
Having grown up on boats with her sailing-mad parents, her early professional racing experience was in 1998 when she joined Tracy Edwards and her all-female crew in their doomed bid for the Trophee Jules Verne on the maxi catamaran Royal and Sun Alliance which dismasted in the Southern Ocean.
Since then she has made the Figaro Class her speciality, completing four Solitaires du Figaro in 30 foot Beneteaus before graduating to the larger Open 60s in 2007.
She moved to Port Le Foret in France where she was able to train with some of the top French professionals, including 'Le Professeur' Michel Desjoyeaux, and was soon at the helm of his 10 year-old Open 60, which she renamed Roxy after the French clothing manufacturers agreed to sponsor her.
She became the story of the race for her relentless cheeriness in the face of adversity, and for her steadiness in performance which earned her a fourth place overall - though she was third to cross the finish line - while 19 skippers, including fellow Britons Mike Golding, Alex Thomson and Jonny Malbon were forced to retire.