She battled her way round the world, crossed the finish line third and then, after an agonising wait of over two days, Sam Davies saw her podium place in the Vendée Globe race snatched away from her today.
An equally heroic performance by Frenchman Marc Guillemot saw him nurse his crippled yacht over the finish line with just an hour and 20 minutes to spare to grab the podium place and push Davies down to fourth.
He had sailed the last 1,000 miles without a keel, relying on water ballast to stop the 60-foot Safran from capsizing. He had been awarded 82 hours of compensation for going to the rescue of fellow-Frenchman Yann Elies after he had broken his leg and was waiting to be lifted to safety by the Australian Navy.
Davies, too, was diverted as a back-up and, though stood down before ever arriving at the scene, was awarded 32 hours in compensation. The 50-hour difference was 80 minutes too much.
"The last week was very stressful," said a relieved Guillemot in Les Sables d'Olonne. "Crossing the line was a great relief. The stress of the race all came out at that point." He will share third place with the 2004 winner, Vincent Riou, who was awarded the place and the prize money when he was dismasted after rescuing the capsized Jean le Cam when Riou was lying third.
In fifth place was Britain's Brian Thompson, who also had problems with the keel on Bahrain Team Pindar. "I've been fighting to stay ahead of Dee and keeping my keel problem a secret," he said. "Last night the hydraulic ram which holds the keel in position broke. But fifth is an excellent result and I'm quite happy about that."
The Dee in question is Dee Caffari, sixth in Aviva and completing her objective of becoming the first woman to sail solo, non-stop round the world both ways.
"This is just incredible," she said before even stepping ashore. "To see all these people here to watch me cross the line and make history is just awesome. I'm quite exhausted but I'll be buzzing for the next few days.
"My focus was getting me and the boat home safe and sound and, with the support of the team, I've managed that, so I'm over the moon."
The fourth and final of the seven Britons who were among the 30 starters last November is Steve White, who mortgaged his house, bought a 10-year old boat and had only a shoestring budget but, with 1,700 miles to go, is due to finish later this week, in eighth place.
Leading the five starters as they clear the southern tip of Japan on the fifth leg of the Volvo round the world race from Qingdao, China, to Rio de Janeiro is the Swedish entry Ericsson 4, skippered by Torben Grael. Chasing him was Kenny Read's American entry Puma as Ericsson 3, with the veteran Magnus Olsson at the helm, took third despite starting the leg seven hours late after a dash from a repair yard in Taiwan.
Fourth is the Irish-backed entry Green Dragon, with British double Olympic medallist Ian Walker as skipper and fifth, after being delayed for 19 hours to repair keel damage in the pre-start manoeuvring, is Bouwe Bekking in Spain's Telefonica Blue.Reuse content