Thomson revealed yesterday that in order to stand a chance of overhauling French skipper Le Cléac’h before the finish of the solo round the world race he must get to within 50 miles of him in the next few days. At the 1400 UTC position report yesterday Thomson’s Hugo Boss was 216 miles adrift of Le Cléac’h’s Banque Populaire VIII as the pair passed to the west of the Cape Verde Islands. At the same time today that deficit was down to 131 miles as light winds forced Le Cléac’h to slow to just one knot compared to Thomson’s eight knots. Thomson too will see speeds drop as he hits the dead spot but with several days of light-wind sailing ahead before stronger south-easterlies fill in near the Azores even the smallest of gains were welcome.
Thomson was not the only one with reason to celebrate. Crossing the Equator yesterday 13 days, three hours and 59 minutes after rounding Cape Horn, Jean-Pierre Dick set a new race record for the passage. Incredibly he shaved almost 16 hours off the reference time of Vendée 2012-13 winner François Gabart of 13 days, 19 hours and 29 minutes. In fact, Dick was just the first of four skippers to beat Gabart’s time. Thomson posted a time of 13 days, five hours and 30 minutes, Yann Eliès took 13 days, seven hours and 20 minutes while Jean Le Cam was just 37 minutes behind. In stark comparison, race leader le Cléac’h was almost 32 hours slower than Dick over the same distance, but his woes did not stop there. His losses caused by a painful crossing of the Doldrums were today laid bare. Fifteen of the race’s remaining 18 skippers made gains on Banque Populaire over the past seven days. Frenchman Eric Bellion has been by far the biggest winner in the last week, pulling back 641nm on Le Cléac’h, with Jean-Pierre Dick was next in line making back 388nm. Only Thomson and 17th-placed Pieter Heerema lost ground on Le Cléac’h, Thomson dropping 26nm to the leader and Heerema losing 10nm.
The Vendée Globe finish line is now within 1,800 miles of Le Cléac’h, and his ETA in Les Sables remains Thursday January 19th. Race HQ has now moved from Paris and is set up in Les Sables ready for the opening of the race village tomorrow. Doors to the village, at Port Olona, open to the public at 10am local time and visitors can enjoy an exhibition on the race, shop for official Vendée Globe merchandise or relax in the race’s legendary bar and restaurant, the VOG. A huge screen will show the arrivals live from the finish line to the pontoon, and skippers will then be interviewed on the main stage.
Tune in to the Vendée Live show tomorrow on the race website at 1200 UTC for the latest news from the Vendée Globe.
Musandam-Oman Sail set a new world record for sailing around Ireland* and posted a sensational victory in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Race after a cliff-hanger finish with just minutes separating the three giant trimarans on the line.
Arriving back in Wicklow Bay, after a thrilling contest with the other MOD70s, Phaedo and Concise, for most of the 700 nautical mile course, Sidney Gavignet’s crew were exhausted but exhilarated by their victory and the new record, which they had set themselves last year beating Steve Fossett’s longstanding Lakota record from 1993.
They crossed the finish line at 03:47 local time as dawn was breaking after setting a new time of 38 hours 37 minutes and 7 seconds, which was more than two hours faster than their previous time of 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds set last year.
Racing with just six crew, including Oman’s three leading offshore sailors Fahad Al Hasni, Yasir Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili, Musandam-Oman Sail claimed line honours while Phaedo 3 were hot on their heels and arrived six minutes later with the third MOD70, Concise 10 trailing by a single minute.
The final few moments turned their race upside down, said Gavignet, since for most of the time, they had been chasing the other boats until an opportunity came up to take the lead less than a mile from the end.
“It feels fantastic because at times we were slower than the other boats and I was thinking we might finish last and lose our record but a few minutes before the finish we had a bit of luck and were close enough to the others to take advantage.
“The guys showed real commitment – we had no watch system so didn’t sleep much and didn’t use the bunks to keep more weight at the back so they were sleeping on the floor and on wet sail bags. They have been grinding a lot and worked really hard so they are exhausted but happy.”
It had been without question the most demanding race he had ever done, added Irishman Damian Foxall as he stepped off the boat, but coming out on top represented a new high in his long career.
“I have done a few round the world races but this was up there as one of the best,” he said.
“Racing with six meant one or two less than the other boats so we only had one hours sleep each at the most but being so close to the other boats was so motivating and intense.
“We knew at times we were off the pace but we kept pushing hard and found opportunities to come back into the race. There was a reasonable chance we were going to lose our record so Sidney was fairly tight-lipped coming down the east coast but it is very satisfying to win AND set a new record because this race is not for the faint hearted.”
Al Hasni, who shared helming duties with Gavignet and Foxall agreed it had been tiring but rewarding.
“We are really happy with this result; it makes me very proud to raise the Omani flag in Ireland for the second time with this world record – we dedicate our win to the Sultanate of Oman.
“In the last few miles, we were aware that there were potential passing lanes near the coast so we moved into position which worked and we were able to gain the advantage when it mattered most.
“It was really hard and we thought we had missed our opportunity but those last few minutes turned it round so we are very happy.”
David Graham, Oman Sail CEO, was delighted with the team’s performance: “This was one of the most difficult challenges that the guys on Musandam-Oman Sail have faced, I could hear the smile on Fahad’s face when he answered the satellite phone when I called them as they crossed the finish line to congratulate the team on both the victory and the record.
“We are especially pleased that Fahad, Yasir and Sami are an integral part of the race crew for a second Round Ireland Record – the team has been working hard and it is great to see their efforts pay off. This experience and success is key to their pathway. They had world class mentors on board with Sidney, Damian and Jean Luc [Nelias] and it all worked to deliver our desired result.”
The crew will return to training immediately after food and sleep in preparation for the delivery to Quebec, Canada, where they will set off on the Transat Quebec – St Malo Race across the Atlantic on July 10, returning to Europe for an action-packed summer season of events.
*pending ratification by World Sailing Speed Record Council
Oman Sail’s crew on flagship MOD70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail return to the race track on Saturday with their first big race of the season, the 2016 Myth of Malham off the south coast of England.
This English classic, run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, is a weekend race starting at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes with the top mark set at the Eddystone Lighthouse, some 12 miles south-west of Plymouth and the finish back in the Solent.
At 256 nautical miles, it may be a relatively short course but it will test the team, since the Solent and Channel are amongst the busiest shipping channels in the world and a hub of recreational boating and sailing in Britain with thousands of boats taking to the waters on a nice sunny day.
For the Musandam-Oman Sail crew which features Omani professionals Fahad Al Hasni, Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi, plus skipper Sidney Gavignet, Damian Foxall and navigator Jean Luc Nelias, the race marks the transition from training to performance.
“All our preparations here this week have been about working efficiently round the clock, morning and evening, on the dock as well,” said Sidney Gavignet.
“We want everyone to perform. On our delivery runs, we have spent a lot of time teaching and experimenting but during the race, there will be no time for any of that. It will be time to perform and that requires a completely different state of mind.”
“It will be good preparation for the Round Ireland race next month.”
Musandam-Oman Sail, an ultra-fast trimaran, will be one of around 40 boats competing in the Myth of Malham but there is only one other contender in the fleet that Gavignet’s team want to beat and that is Team Concise, a rival British-owned MOD70 that recently set a new record in the Round Barbados Race.
“They have done a lot of racing in the Caribbean this year so it will be a very good contest but we have a good crew, and with some intensive training under our belt, we will be trying our best for a win,” added Gavignet.
Known as the mini-Fastnet, since it follows the same course through the Solent down to the 49-metre high Eddystone Lighthouse – which is mentioned in Herman Melville’s epic novel Moby-Dick – the Myth of Malham was named after the yacht of the same name, a 37’6″ sloop built in 1947 that went on to win the Fastnet race that year, and again two years later.
The Myth of Malham race starts on the morning of Saturday May 28 when the fleet will head west out of the Solent en route to the Eddystone Lighthouse before an exhilarating downwind ride back to the Solent under spinnaker.
“We can’t wait to get racing again and are looking forward to getting some speed up on Musandam-Oman Sail,” said Fahad Al Hasni, who is likely to be given helming duties.
“This is the first race of the season and we are keen to make an early impression. She’s a fast boat and because we have a few records under our belt, we know we can get the best out of her but we also know we will have to be at the top of our game to win.”
MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail Programme
Myth of Malham: Starts Cowes, Isle of Wight – Saturday 28 May
Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race: Starts Wicklow, Ireland – Saturday 18 June
Quebec – St Malo: Starts Quebec, Canada – Saturday 10 July
Musandam-Oman Sail, the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship trimaran, will join a small fleet of MOD70s at the start of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s classic Round Ireland Race on 18 June to kick off the European season.
French skipper Sidney Gavignet’s crew of Omani sailors and Irishman Damian Foxall are no strangers to the 700 mile Round Ireland race track having famously smashed the record in 2015 after completing the course in 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, some four hours faster than anything achieved previously.
Fahad Al Hasni, Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili were all on board for the record-breaking voyage and all return to action for the Round Ireland Race.
The team has developed a strong bond, says Gavignet so the prospect of lining up against other professional MOD70 crews in June for the start in Wicklow, to follow a course that leaves Ireland and all its islands excluding Rockall to starboard, serves to stir their competitive spirits.
“This Omani crew has a long history – last season especially was very demanding – so we have a very good team with a great team spirit,” said skipper Gavignet.
“We would like to win the race but know it will not be easy because the other MOD70s have been sailing a lot in the past few months. We have trained hard and the guys are performing at a different level now so we are very happy to go and do our best against the others.
“We hold the record but it is possible to do better and it is likely that whoever wins will set a new record, depending on the conditions. It is very exciting to be racing against Phaedo and Concise – it will be a good contest.”
Preparations for the race have included some intensive training offshore as well as participation in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez, France, last weekend where the Omani Diam 24 team onboard Oman Airports by Oman Sail finished in 3rd place.
This weekend MOD70 sailors Fahad, Sami and Yasser are due to compete on Oman Sail’s J80 at the Grand Prix Ecole Navale at the French Naval Academy in Lanvéoc to get some crucial fleet race practice.
Success in sailing against the clock for a speed record requires a different mindset to racing in a fleet, said Fahad, Oman’s most experienced and successful offshore sailor.
“Competing with other boats in the Round Ireland race will be different to breaking the record and probably a lot more difficult,” he said.
“The other MOD70s have been training and racing all year and have achieved some good results so they will be hard to beat. But we will be sailing the boat as fast as we can and if we can win, it will be fantastic for us because this is a two thirds Omani crew.”
Records are one thing but when you get two boats racing side by side, the results speak for themselves, commented Damian Foxall, acknowledged as Ireland’s most accomplished ocean sailor.
“This season, our campaigns are all about fleet racing. When you are racing against the clock, you never know if you are performing 100% but in fleet racing, if you are not going 100%, you probably aren’t winning. And you know pretty quickly whether you have taken a good or bad option.
“Fleet racing is more like a game of chess and what the other boats do on the course can affect your own tactics. So you have to be on your game 100% all the time and sail a lot harder. Our guys understand that completely.”
A couple of years ago, Musandam-Oman Sail would have been favourite to win the multihull class, Foxall continued but an upsurge in activity on the other MOD70s means they have a contest on their hands.
“The guys on Phaedo and Concise are sailing extremely well now so a couple of years ago, we might have been favourites but that is certainly no longer the case and we are going to have to compete really hard to get a result this year. But we know how to sail the boat so this is great and exactly how it should be.”
To stay up to date: www.omansail.com
For more information on the race, please go to: http://roundireland.ie/wp/
Currently on stand-by for the right weather to start their Jules Verne Trophy record attempt, Dona Bertarelli, Yann Guichard and their crew present the opportunity to share their adventure.
SPECIAL JULES VERNE TROPHY WEBSITE
Spindrift racing has created a new platform devoted entirely to the record attempt. Using your computer, tablet or smartphone, you can explore the history of the Jules Verne Trophy and retrace the steps of the previous record holders. Go behind the scenes, meet the Spindrift 2 crew and see how they organise life on board for 45 days at sea. Experience Spindrift 2 as if you were actually there thanks to video footage of her at the dock, ready to depart.
The fun, accessible, entirely responsive website will be the place to go for daily updates during the around-the-world tour. The logbook will contain messages, photos and videos sent by the crew. Various experts will regularly shed light on the record, while the team’s onshore router Jean-Yves Bernot will provide several illustrated weather reports. Finally, once a week, a live video link will provide an even closer experience of life on board.
FOLLOW SPINDRIFT 2 IN REAL TIME
The map will go online as soon as the boat starts the record attempt and will be updated every 15 minutes, allowing you to follow the progress of Spindrift 2 around the world. The map is compatible with all screen types, and can be viewed in standard view, Google Maps or Google Earth. One dashboard shows the current race time, the lead or deficit with the current record, the distance covered, the average speed, and the trimaran’s sail plan. The other provides the main environmental data such as the general weather situation, the wind speed and direction, and the air and water temperatures.
SPINDRIFT FOR SCHOOLS
CLASSROOM ADVENTURE BOOK
Since the birth of Spindrift racing, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard have sought to share their passion for sailing, the sea and offshore sailing with children. The Spindrift for Schools programme was conceived as soon as the team decided to attempt the Jules Verne Trophy and has grown as the team has moved from one project to another.
Spindrift racing has worked alongside scientists and teachers to develop tools that fit into the French and Swiss curricula. Launched several weeks ago for primary school teachers, Spindrift for Schools already has 25 partner schools: 17 in France, 8 in Switzerland.
The material available includes a classroom adventure book designed for teachers of 7-12 year-olds and developed by Spindrift racing and Cité de la Voile Éric Tabarly. This comprehensive, illustrated document uses the around-the-world tour as a platform to look at geography, history, science and the arts with the children, and includes practical workshops for the classroom.
The material is supported by five turnkey lessons designed specifically for schools on the oceans, the climate and the water cycle. The lessons will soon be available for download from the Spindrift for Schools page on the team’s website.
Cité de la Voile Eric Tabarly, which receives more than 12,000 students a year, has devised a fun game open to all school classes in France and Switzerland. Like Jules Verne did back in his day, the schoolchildren must design an “extraordinary machine” capable of beating Spindrift 2 in the around-the-world sailing record attempt. A jury formed by educational advisers, the Head of the Cité de la Voile programmes, Dona Bertarelli and Yann Guichard will determine which entries best meet the criteria. The winning classes will be given the chance to visit the Cité de la Voile and meet the members of Spindrift racing.
A PLACE TO DISCOVER AND SHARE THE ADVENTURE
Following trips to Kiel (Germany), Brest (France) and Geneva (Switzerland), Spindrift immersion is returning to France, first to La Trinité-sur-Mer harbour, then to Brest for the winter. Spindrift immersion uses fun, educational tools to reveal to the general public what life is like for Spindrift racing and its sailors and what lies ahead for them during the Jules Verne Trophy. Immersive videos will give the public the opportunity to simulate sailing Spindrift 2 and the GC32 foiling catamaran. Spindrift racing has also designed and produced an exhibition on the history of Jules Verne, the around-the-world record and the various trophy winners. The exhibition shows the innovations on Spindrift 2, reveals what life is like on board the boat, and explains how the team prepare for such an extraordinary voyage around the world.
OFFICIAL VIRTUAL REGATTA GAME
Spindrift racing and the world’s most popular virtual regatta game are launching a special Jules Verne Trophy 2015 edition. Players must choose a departure window based on the weather and attempt to beat the current “real-life” record of 45 days, 13 hours and 42 minutes, as well as the “virtual” record set by the winner of the 2012 Jules Verne Virtual Regatta, who completed the course in 43 days, 19 hours and 45 minutes. This year, the famous game will include rankings for schoolchildren. First prize is the chance to spend a day with the Spindrift racing team. Many other prizes are also provided by partners and official suppliers.
With 2,800 miles to sail and just two boats on the starting line, a conservative start would seem like the smart play. But for the 63-foot trimaran Paradox, owned by Peter Aschenbrenner and skippered by Jeff Mearing, the start of the multihull class in the Transatlantic Race 2015 offered up a wondrous opportunity to throw a little mud in the eye of Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo3, the 70-foot MOD 70 trimaran that is the odds-on favorite to take overall line honors in the race. It was too good to pass up, no matter what the overall risk-reward analysis might say.
Anticipation for today’s second start—the final act of the fortnight of U.S.-based activity for the Transatlantic Race—has been building since last summer when the news broke that two new super maxis – the 100-foot Comanche and Rambler 88 – would be competing in the race. While both skippers have downplayed the duel—the boats have different design briefs and there is a 12-foot difference in overall length, in a sport where longer is often faster—the sailing public hasn’t let go of the “which one is faster” debate. It doesn’t hurt that the two skippers—Ken Read, who is skippering Comanche for owners Jim Clark and Kristy Hinze-Clark, and George David, the owner/skipper of Rambler 88—were once crewmates on David’s IMS 50 Idler, which competed as a part of the American team in the 1999 Admiral’s Cup.
Whether despite this or because of it, the final start of the Transatlantic Race 2015 was more true to expectations for such an event. Both boats maneuvered significantly through the pre-start, probing for an advantage. But with neither boat providing an opening, the afterguards of each boat were content to blast across the line in sync, Comanche to leeward and slightly ahead. As with the trimarans, the speeds jumped significantly once the boats passed the R4 channel marker south of Brenton Reef and were able bear off and ease the sheets. At press time, Comanche had pulled out to approximately a 1.3-mile lead over Rambler 88, with both boats recording speeds in the low 20s.
No matter where they stand relative to their respective competitors, sailors on all four boats have to be extremely pleased with the weather, which provided them with ideal reaching conditions for the escape from Newport. Whether it lasts, however, is a significant question. In the immediate future it appears to be some lighter winds. Any advantage or disadvantage at the start will be quickly forgotten if any of the boats struggle to push through to the next band of breeze.
Comanche, Jim Clark & Kristy Hinze-Clark, New York, N.Y., USA
Phaedo3, Lloyd Thornburg, Santa Fe, New Mexico, USA
Paradox, Peter Aschenbrenner, San Francisco, Calif., USA
Rambler, George David, Hartford, Conn., USA
Google Play/Android https://play.google.com/store/apps/details?id=com.yellowbrick.raceviewer&hl=en
The Ministry of Tourism of Oman’s flagship MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail made history for the Sultanate this morning when it broke the 22-year-old Round Ireland record after completing the 700 mile course in a remarkable 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, slashing almost four hours off the existing record.
They needed to be back by 1500 to take the record but their breakneck speeds down the west coast of Ireland, at one stage reaching 38 knots, meant they were finished well before that, some three hours and 50 minutes faster than the 44 hours and 42 minutes set by Steve Fossett in his first ever world record back in September 1993 aboard his 60ft trimaran Lakota.
Helmsman Fahad Al Hasni said this record attempt coming at the end of a European winter, had proved tough.
“It was both scary and exciting because we saw 40 knots of wind and massive waves that we reckoned were around six metres but the main challenge was the cold,” said Al Hasni.
“It is still winter here and my hands were so cold I still can’t feel them but I’m really happy because there have been some very famous sailors who have made attempts on this record but we are the ones who now hold it. We have become a really good, tough team and it feels great to be part of it.”
It had been a challenging but amazing experience for the Omani sailors, added Gavignet, who was full of praise for his crew.
“This was a real test for them and they came through with flying colours – the whole crew put in a great effort.
“We had to be very careful in these conditions and had no choice but to slow down at times but to have achieved the record so early in our season is a great feeling. It had been a priority and now it is done.”
This was Musandam-Oman Sail’s second attempt on the Round Ireland record. Two years ago they set off from Dublin Bay with high hopes but were forced to abandon due to unsafe conditions.
Today was a different story and everyone on board was delighted to add this one to their burgeoning collection.
“This is a great accomplishment for Oman and Oman Sail,” said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail.
“Attempting to break the Round Ireland record has been our goal for many years now and achieving the feat is a shining example of the hard work and dedication of our sailing squad.”
“Racing against yourself to set a time is the hardest test of discipline. The team must remain focused and motivated at all times, and we have instilled these values since the start of the Oman Sail programme.
“With a 50% Omani crew, this record shows that the present and the future of sailing in Oman is on the right course.”
*** Times subject to World Record Sailing Speed Council ratification
Oman Sail’s record-chasers on the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail began their 2015 summer season yesterday late afternoon when they set off from Dun Laoghaire in Ireland for an attempt on the Round Ireland record.
French skipper Sidney Gavignet was reunited with his three Omani crew Fahad Al Hasni, Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili who were key members of his triumphant team when Musandam-Oman Sail smashed the Round Britain and Ireland world record last August.
Also on board was Spanish sailor Alex Pella and the French multihull veteran Jean Baptiste Levaillant who have joined the Omani trimaran for the attempt to beat the long standing Round Ireland record of 44 hours set back in September 1993 by Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota.
“The goal is to give my Omani crewmates some real life training in a range of conditions and we are taking advantage of an ideal weather window,” explained Gavignet who was last on the boat when he raced it single-handed across the Atlantic in the Route du Rhum in November 2014.
The forecast before they threw the lines at 17:04 UTC on Monday was for light conditions that were scheduled to build significantly overnight. Before casting off, Sidney warned that they would be playing it safe: “We will be watching the weather carefully and avoiding risks.”
Musandam-Oman Sail made an attempt on the Round Ireland record two years ago but were forced to abandon due to unsafe conditions but hopes are high that this time, the weather will be kinder and allow Oman Sail to add this speed record to their growing collection.
“The current record is held by great sailors, so it would be a huge source of pride for us to break it and add such an achievement to our experience as sailors. We are expecting a lot of challenges and very low temperatures to the north, but we are prepared and hope to return with another record for Oman,” said Fahad Al Hasni.
“We are focusing this season on the sailor’s strength and fitness, but also on preparing the boat and studying the weather to make them better all round offshore sailors. There won’t be many record attempts on our schedule in 2015, but this one is a primary goal and if we can get the record, it would be very good for the guys, for the country and for Oman Sail,” added Gavignet.
Since the boat was launched following a routine refit, Gavignet has been training with his crew in Lorient and taking part in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez in Brittany, France, where they flew the Omani flag in Europe for the first time this year and got back into competitive racing mode after a winter sailing with other crew in other boats.
At the time of writing, the boat has rounded the top of Ireland and is doing around 20 knots. The ETA is scheduled for Wednesday morning.