Musandam-Oman Sail Picture of Oman Sail - Musandam takes line honours at the 2015 Artemis Challenge (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail Picture of Oman Sail – Musandam takes line honours at the 2015 Artemis Challenge (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

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.

Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

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.

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

“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

Trimaran MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Trimaran MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

 The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam - Oman . Finishing the Route du Rhum in 5th place this morning Credit: Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam – Oman . Finishing the Route du Rhum in 5th place this morning ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship, Musandam-Oman Sail, crossed the finish line of the Route du Rhum in Guadeloupe at 9:15:24 CET this morning completing the epic adventure in 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes and 24 seconds. After 4,446 nautical miles at an average speed of 21.5 knots he was delighted to reach dry land.

“Mission accomplished!” he said as he came ashore to speak to the media who welcomed him in at 03:30 local time. “The boat was superbly prepared by the shore team and is in as good shape as when I left St Malo 8 days ago, a testimony to their great work.

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam - Oman . Sidney speaks with reporters after the finish  ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

The 2014 Route Du Rhum finish. Guadeloupe. Pictures of Sidney Gavignet onboard his MOD70 Trimaran Musandam – Oman . Sidney speaks with reporters after the finish ( Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

“My primary objective was to get to Guadeloupe in one piece and here I am. I made a few small errors during the last few hours of the race, but I managed to finish on the same night as Prince de Bretagne, a boat that is 10 feet bigger than Musandam-Oman Sail, and as Gitana, a heavily modified MOD70. I am immensely proud to have flown the flag of the Sultanate of Oman all the way across the Atlantic and into Guadeloupe. This place is very special to me as I met my wife here 23 years ago while I was training for the Whitbread.”

He was given a hero’s welcome in Pointe-a-Pitre by his Oman Sail teammates who have lived every moment of the race, highs and lows, alongside the skipper. Support for the 45-year-old Frenchman across three different time zones was immense with cheers going up in France and Muscat when he crossed the finish line.

Sidney Gavignet and shore crew member Suliman Al Wahaibi happily celebrate Musandam's arrival in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd  Images)

Sidney Gavignet and shore crew member Suliman Al Wahaibi happily celebrate Musandam’s arrival in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

CEO David Graham, who waved Sidney off in St Malo was the first to applaud such a triumph: “Huge congratulations to Sidney for this incredible achievement. It has been a voyage of discovery for the whole Oman Sail team that has lived this epic experience alongside him, every nautical mile of the way. It has proved very inspiring for our Omani sailors, especially our offshore team who have been sending Sidney messages of support throughout the race, as well as our younger sailors that aspire to greatness on the water in years to come.

“This event has been a great success for us both on the sporting front and in terms of promoting Oman as a high-end tourism destination – we are very proud of Sidney’s achievement and the impact it had with our sailors in terms of inspiration. It may have been a single-handed race, but the reality is there were hundreds of people on the MOD70 with Sidney!”

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Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail – Musandam arrive in Guadaloupe under a full moon sky (Photo © Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

After a nail-biting first 48 hours of the race that saw the French skipper and his 70ft trimaran battle 40knot gusts and huge seas across the Bay of Biscay and then around Cape Finisterre, with a broken jet burner and no hot food, and a hurt and swollen forearm, the Frenchman bounced back with cheerful and awe inspiring tales of full moon sailing at 30knots and nerve-wracking squalls rolling in one after the other.

He punched way above his weight as he wrestled with Prince de Bretagne, an 80ft trimaran 10 feet his senior, all the way across the Atlantic and led right up to hours before the finish when boat length finally prevailed and Lionel Lemonchois gave him the slip to finish ahead.

The Oman Sail Route du Rhum had two objectives, the first to raise awareness of the Sultanate of Oman as a high-end tourist destination, and with over 2 million visitors to the St Malo race village and the “Visit Oman” tourism pavilion, over the course of a week at the start, this box was firmly ticked. The second was to finish – Sidney himself had estimated a 50/50 chance of catastrophe – and as a result to share the experience with the Omani sailors that aspire to follow in Sidney’s footsteps. Mission accomplished.

“One of the highlights of my race was receiving an email from Fahad Al Hasni, one of our best MOD70 sailors – it made me so happy I picked up the sat phone to tell him about life onboard. I think he was very surprised to hear from me, but I could hear the grin in his voice – I know that this race is inspiring my Omani teammates and making them want to go further in their careers and getting his message was a happy moment for me.”

Sidney will take some well-earned rest now and have a long overdue hot meal before the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail is prepared for the return trip to Europe with Fahad Al Hasni, Yassir Al Rahbi, Abdulrahman Al Mashari and Sami Al Shukaili, onboard.

Route du Rhum Ultime Class – provisional results

  1. Banque Populaire VII/Loick Peyron/103ft – 7 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes, 32 seconds
  2. Spindrift II/Yann Guichard/131ft – 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 46 seconds
  3. Edmond de Rothschild/Sebastien Josse/modified MOD70 – 8 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds
  4. Prince de Bretagne/Lionel Lemonchois/80ft – 8 days 17 hours 44 minutes, 50 seconds
  5. Musandam-Oman Sail/Sidney Gavignet/70ft – 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes, 24 seconds
  6. Idec/Francis Joyon/97ft – still racing
  7. Paprec Recyclage/Yann Eliès/70ft – still racing
Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail - Musandam finish the Route du Rhum in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images )

Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail – Musandam finish the Route du Rhum in Guadaloupe (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images )

ROUTE DU RHUM - DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM – DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start photo © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM - DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start      © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM – DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start © ALEXIS COURCOUX

As the tenth edition of the legendary Route du Rhum solo Transatlantic race to Guadeloupe started off Saint Malo, France this Sunday afternoon under grey skies and a moderate SSW’ly breeze. The perennial question of just how hard to push through the first 24-36 hours at sea was foremost in the minds of most of the 91 skippers.

 

When the start gun sounded at 1400hrs local time (1300hrs CET) to mark a spectacular send off for a 3,524 miles contest, which engages and entrances the French public like no other ocean race, breezes were only 15-17kts. But a tough, complicated first night at sea is in prospect, a precursor to 36 hours of bruising, very changeable breezes and big unruly seas.

Such conditions, gusting to 40kts after midnight tonight, are widely acknowledged to be potentially boat or equipment breaking. But the big ticket reward for fighting successfully through the worst of the fronts and emerging in A1 racing shape, will be a fast passage south towards Guadeloupe. Such an early gain might be crucial to the final result.

ROUTE DU RHUM - DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start      © ALEXIS COURCOUX

ROUTE DU RHUM – DESTINATION GUADELOUPE 2014 Start © ALEXIS COURCOUX

The converse is doubly true. Any trouble or undue conservatism might be terminal as far as hopes of a podium place in any of the three classes.

In short, the maxim of not being able to win the race on the first night, but being able to lose it over that keynote, initial period, has perhaps never been truer.

The routing south is relatively direct, fast down the Iberian peninsula with a fairly straightforward, quick section under the Azores high pressure which shapes the course. The Ultimes – the giant multis – are expected to be south of Madeira by Tuesday night when the IMOCA Open 60s will already be at the latitude of Lisbon and the Class 40 leaders passing Cape Finisterre.

Vincent Riou, Vendée Globe winner who triumphed in last year’s Transat Jacques Vabre two-handed race to Brasil, said of the forecast: “I carried out statistical studies, set up 140 different routings using ten years of files in my pre-race analysis and I can’t recall a single example of the weather being as favourable for the IMOCAs as what seems to lie ahead‏.”

The change in weather from the idyllic Indian summer conditions which have prevailed through the build up weeks to gusty winds, heavy rain showers and cooler temperatures could do nothing to dampen the extraordinary ardour displayed by the crowds which so openly embrace the Rhum legend. From all walks of life, from babes-in-arms to the elderly, they descend on Saint Malo and the nearby beaches and promontories to see the start and the opening miles.

Lemonchois Leads
It was fitting then that the tens of thousands who braved the deluges and the breeze were rewarded when it was the owner of the race record, Lionel Lemonchois, winner of the Multi 50 Class in the last edition and overall winner in 2006, who passed their Cap Fréhel vantage point, 18 miles after the start line leading the whole fleet on the Ultime Prince de Bretagne.

 

Thomas Coville on Sodebo lead the Caribbean-bound armada off the start line dicing with the more nimble, smaller Multi70 of Sidney Gavignet Musandam-Oman Air which also lead for a short time. The fleet’s ultimate Ultime, the 40m long Spindrift (Yann Guichard) was seventh to Fréhel, clearly needing time and opportunity to wind up to her high average top speeds. Coville has the potent mix of tens of thousands of solo miles under his belt as well as an Ultime (the 31m long ex Geronimo of Olivier de Kersauson with new main hull and mostly new floats and a new rig) which is optimised for solo racing.

The favourites to win each of the different classes seemed to make their way quickly to the front of their respective packs. Vendée Globe victor François Gabart established a very early lead in the IMOCA Open 60s on MACIF, ahead of PRB (Vincent Riou) and Jérémie Beyou (Maitre-CoQ). In the 43 strong Class 40 fleet Sébastien Rogue quickly worked GDF SUEZ in to the lead. He remains unbeaten and won last year’s TJV. Defending class champion Italy’s Andrea Mura was at the front of the Rhum class with his highly updated Open 50 Vento di Sardegna.

Spain’s highly rated Alex Pella was second in Class 40 on Tales 2, Britain’s Conrad Humphreys 20th on Cat Phones Built For It and Miranda Merron sailing Campagne de France in 22nd.

The key international, non-French skippers made solid starts to their races. Self-preservation was key priority for 75 year old Sir Robin Knox-Johnston on Grey Power, who said pre-start that his main goal was to get safely clear of Cape Finisterre, before pressing the accelerator.

He is in good company not least with ‘junior’ rivals Patrick Morvan, 70 and Bob Escoffier, 65 all racing in this Rhum class which features race legend craft as well as sailors. Two of the original sisterships to Mike Birch’s 11.22m Olympus – which stole victory by 98 seconds in the inaugural race in 1978 – are racing in this fleet replaying the fight against the monohull Kriter V which finished second.

First to return to Saint-Malo with a technical problem- needing to repair his rigging – was the Class40 of Jean Edouard Criquioche, Région haute Normandie, who had to turn round after just 45 minutes on course. And the Portuguese skipper in the Rhum class Ricardo Diniz was also reported to be heading back with trouble with his diesel.

Order at Cap Fréhel

1 – Lionel Lemonchois (Prince de Bretagne) / 1st Ultime
2 – Sidney Gavignet (Musandam – Oman Sail)
3 – Thomas Coville (Sodebo Ultim’)
4 – Loïck Peyron (Maxi Solo Banque Populaire VII)
5 – Sébastien Josse (Edmond De Rothschild)
6 – Yann Eliès (Paprec Recyclage)
7 – Yann Guichard (Spindrift 2)
8 – Yves Le Blévec (Actual) / 1st Multi50
9 – Francis Joyon (Idec Sport)
10 – Erwan Leroux (FenêtréA – Cardinal)
11 – Lalou Roucayrol (Arkema Région Aquitaine)
12 – François Gabart (MACIF) / 1st IMOCA
13 – Vincent Riou (PRB) 14 – Loïc Fequet (Maître Jacques)
15 – Jérémie Beyou (Maître Coq)
16 – Marc Guillemot (Safran)
17 – Louis Burton (Bureau Vallée)
18 – Bertrand De Broc (Votre Nom Autour du Monde)
19 – Tanguy De Lamotte (Initiatives-Coeur)
20 – Armel Tripon (Humble for Heroes)
21 – Erik Nigon (Vers un monde sans sida)
22 – Pierre Antoine (Olmix)
23 – Andrea Mura (Vento Di Sardegna) / 1st Rhum
24 – Sébastien Rogues (GDF SUEZ) / 1st Class40‏

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Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran "Musandam". Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran “Musandam”. Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

The countdown to the start of the epic single-handed 4,471nm offshore race across the Atlantic Ocean has begun with just 10 days to go to the start of France’s La Route du Rhum. And it is not only the flagship of the Sultanate of Oman, Musandam-Oman Sail, that is making its final approach to the start line, but the team behind the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion too!

 

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran "Musandam". Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran “Musandam”. Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

The Oman sail flagship campaign, Musandam-Oman Sail, a 70ft trimaran skippered by Frenchman Sidney Gavignet and more commonly used by the national initiative Oman Sail as an ultra high-performance sailing school to a number of successful Omani sailors, arrived at the Route du Rhum race village in St Malo, France, this afternoon after a last crewed delivery from the team base in Lorient. Ireland’s offshore veteran, Damian Foxall, Abdulrahman Al Mashari – Oman’s latest recruit to the MOD70 squad – and Loik Gallon, key member of the shore team, joined Gavignet for the trip.

Gavignet received a warm welcome in St Malo with MOD regular Fahad Al Hasni, shore crew member Suleiman Al Manji and one of the original Oman Sail recruits and mentor to the Women’s Sailing Programme back home, Mohsin Al Busaidi, on site to catch his lines. They were joined by the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion team, just in from Muscat, Oman.

“I really enjoy the period just before the race starts,” said Gavignet. “It is an opportunity to immerse myself in the race and to mentally prepare for the enormous challenge ahead.

“I am feeling pretty calm going into the final 10 days to the start, both personally and with regards to the boat, I am not sure yet whether I will feel stressed on the day of the start! I am approaching the challenge with pleasure even though I am aware that anything can happen out there…”

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran "Musandam". Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran “Musandam”. Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

This will be Oman’s second entry to the legendary race from St Malo, France, to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean, their first in 2010 ended abruptly with a breakage in the early stages, but Sidney Gavignet who has thousands of offshore miles under his belt, including most recently setting a new Round Britain and Ireland World Record with a 50% Omani crew for the first time – is eager to have another go and proud to be representing Oman again:

“The last edition for me remains an amazing memory and to have a chance to do it again in the colours of Oman is a great honour – we have achieved a huge amount already with our Omani sail training programme onboard the MOD70 and I hope this next challenge will provide further inspiration. For me, growing up sailing, the Route du Rhum was always THE race that made me dream.”

And the objective is that it will also make young Omani sailors dream. As Oman Sail CEO, David Graham, explains:

“The Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 campaign is the pinnacle of the Oman Sail sailing development programme. We are very proud to be competing in the Route du Rhum, such an important benchmark event in France, under Omani colours, and while we do not have an Omani sailor on the boat this time, competing in such a prestigious offshore event will help us with our sailing awareness campaign back home in Oman.

“Racing the Route du Rhum will encourage and inspire our young Omani sailors to aim high with their ambitions.”

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran "Musandam". Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard the Oman sail MOD70 trimaran “Musandam”. Shown here training offshore prior to the Route du Rhum 2014 Credit: Vincent Curutchet/Lloyd Images

The arrival of the boat in St Malo heralds the opening of the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion which throws open its doors to the general public visiting the Race Village on Friday the 24 October at 1030. Over 2 million visitors are expected throughout the week and according to Gavignet a visit is a must: “Don’t miss the “Visit Oman” tent which is located right next to the boat, it is a chance to experience the warm welcome of the Omani people, learn about the country through the exhibition and enjoy the hospitality that the Sultanate is famous for!” he said.

The Route du Rhum starts on the 2 November and takes the 90-strong fleet 4,471 nautical miles across the Bay of Biscay – a perilous stretch of water – then west across the Atlantic Ocean to the island of Guadeloupe. Oman Sail and the Ministry of Tourism see the event, not only as a sporting challenge, but as a platform to share the beauty of the Sultanate with the French general public through the Visit Oman – Tourism Pavilion.

Oman Air Musandam Lloyd Images

Oman Air Musandam Lloyd Images

Oman Sail, the Sultanate of Oman’s national initiative that uses the power of sport to contribute to the development of young Omanis, announced its entry to the 2014 edition of the Route du Rhum, one of France’s greatest offshore races, today at a media event in Paris. Oman Sail will compete onboard the country’s flagship MOD70, skippered by French offshore sailor Sidney Gavignet.

This will be Oman’s second entry to the legendary race from St Malo to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe, their first in 2010 ended abruptly with a breakage in the early stages of the race, but Sidney Gavignet who has numerous offshore miles under his belt, including most recently the Transat Jacques Vabre two-handed race across the Atlantic – which he also did on the MOD70 – is eager to have another go and proud to be representing Oman again: “The last edition for me remains an amazing memory and to have a chance to do it again is a great honour. Growing up sailing in Annecy, the Route du Rhum was always THE race that made me dream.”

Sidney Gavignet by Lloyd Images

Sidney Gavignet by Lloyd Images

And the objective is that it will also make young Omani sailors dream. As Oman Sail CEO, David Graham, explains: “The Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 campaign is the pinnacle of the Oman Sail sailing development programme. We are very proud to be competing in the Route du Rhum, such an important benchmark event in France, under Omani colours, and while we do not have an Omani sailor on the boat this time, competing in such a prestigious offshore event will help us with our sailing awareness campaign back home in Oman. Racing the Route du Rhum will encourage and inspire our young Omani sailors to aim high with their ambitions.”

The Oman Sail equal opportunity project runs sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani men and women and encompasses a national sailing squad and high achieving inshore and offshore racing teams, including the MOD70, the Extreme Sailing Series, the M34 and J80, all of which benefit from world-class coaching. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to win an Olympic medal for Oman and it has young Omani athletes training in the Olympic performance programme on the 49er, Laser and RSX.

Oman Sail has pledged to teach 70,000 Omani children to sail by 2020 at eight sailing schools around the country, four of which are already up and running.

Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Oman and Chairwoman of Oman Sail added her pleasure to the campaign announcement: “The Ministry of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman is extremely proud to support Musandam-Oman Sail, Oman Sail’s MOD70, for the Route du Rhum, one of France’s greatest offshore races. The giant multihull is proudly Omani and carries our flag and message of welcome to a global audience. Through the relationship with Oman Sail and our participation in international events throughout the season, in France, the UK and Germany, we seek to connect with the high-end tourist that attends and follows these elite sailing events and to impart what the Sultanate of Oman has to offer in terms of natural beauty and culture. With a direct flight from Paris to Muscat with Oman Air, the French tourist is very important to us and we look forward to raising awareness of our country’s attractions through our participation in the Route du Rhum.”

Arrival MOD 70 Oman Air Musandam, with Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) - TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE 2013 in Itajai, Brazil, on 18th november 2013 - Photo © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / TJV2013 Arrival MOD 70 Oman Air Musandam, with Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) - TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE 2013 in Itajai, Brazil, on 18th november 2013 - Photo © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / TJV2013

Arrival MOD 70 Oman Air Musandam, with Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) – TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE 2013 in Itajai, Brazil, on 18th november 2013 – Photo © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / TJV2013 Arrival MOD 70 Oman Air Musandam, with Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) – TRANSAT JACQUES VABRE 2013 in Itajai, Brazil, on 18th november 2013 – Photo © Vincent Curutchet / DPPI / TJV2013

The Route du Rhum is the climax of what is set to be a busy season of training and racing for Sidney Gavignet and the Omani and international race squad that will rotate on both the M34 and MOD70 crews throughout the season. The objectives are a podium place in the Tour de France a la Voile and a strong front of the fleet performance in the Round Britain and Ireland Race in August on the MOD70. After that, Sidney will transition to training single-handed on the MOD70 ahead of the start of the Route du Rhum on 2 November. Alterations on the MOD70 have already begun and each event and delivery will serve as a testing opportunity throughout the summer.

“My Omani teammates will live the Route du Rhum experience and preparations with me throughout the season,” said Gavignet. “We will race together on both the M34 towards the Tour de France a la Voile and the MOD70 in France, Germany and the UK. Developing the sailors as a squad that rotates on both boats will give them a deeper knowledge and understanding of the sport and make them more rounded,” he added.

Musandam-Oman Sail will compete in the ‘Ultimes’ Class for the 10th edition of this famous 4,471 nautical mile race, which since its first edition in 1978 has proved popular. It is already fully subscribed, with 100 boats across five classes, including 10 Ultimes, 10 Multi 50s, 15 IMOCAs, 45 Class 40s and 20 Rhum Categories.

Oman Air Lloyd Images

Oman Air Lloyd Images

Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014

MOD70 programme

  • 2-5 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez, France
  • 30 May-1 June: Armen Race, La Trinite sur Mer, France
  • 21-29 June: Kiel Week, Germany
  • 2-9 August: Artemis Challenge, Cowes Week, UK
  • 10-14 August: Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race
  • 2 November: Start of the Route du Rhum

M34 programme

  • 8-11 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez, France
  • 9-15 June: Normandy Sailing Week, France
  • 4-28 July: Tour de France a la Voile

Oman Sail MOD70 & M34 squad 2014

  • Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
  • Damian Foxall (IRL)
  • Fahad Al Hasni (OMA)
  • Ali Al Balushi (OMA)
  • Sami Al Shukily (OMA)
  • Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA)
  • Cedric Pouligny (FRA)
  • Gilles Favennec (FRA)
  • Damien Iehl (FRA) – M34 only
  • Shane Hughes (IRL) – M34 only
  • Thomas Ruyant (FRA) – M34 only
  • Alex Pallu (FRA) – M34 only
  • Guillaume Beranger (FRA) – M34 only
Sidney Gavignet and Musandam on the Ocean (Photo By Lloyd Images)

Sidney Gavignet and Musandam on the Ocean (Photo By Lloyd Images)

Lloyd ImagesDescription:Oman Air - Musandam MOD70. The Oman Air MOD70. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with team mates Thomas LeBreton (FRA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Neal McDonald (GBR),Damian Foxall (IRL), Ahmed Al Hassani (OMA) and Giles Favennec (FRA)

Lloyd ImagesDescription:Oman Air – Musandam MOD70. The Oman Air MOD70. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with team mates Thomas LeBreton (FRA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Neal McDonald (GBR),Damian Foxall (IRL), Ahmed Al Hassani (OMA) and Giles Favennec (FRA)

Oman Sail skipper Sidney Gavignet and a mixed Omani and European 12-man squad will make a bid on both the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland and the Tour de France a la Voile titles in 2014 as part of an intensive summer’s racing in Europe on the MOD70 flagship, supported by the Ministry of Tourism of Oman, and the M34 to continue developing an Omani sailing squad.

Fresh from a win in the popular EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour, Gavignet is turning his attention to training and racing around France and Britain, taking part in a total of eight different events between April and August and rotating members of Oman Sail’s 12-strong squad to build further on skills and performances.

Copyright:Lloyd ImagesDescription:Route des Princes. Valencia. Spain The Oman Air MOD70 - Musandam skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA)

Copyright:Lloyd ImagesDescription:Route des Princes. Valencia. Spain The Oman Air MOD70 – Musandam skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA)

The squad will comprise some of Oman’s best-known offshore sailors including Nasser Al Mashari (who just won the Extreme Sailing Series Act 2 with the team on The Wave, Muscat), Ali Al Balushi who returns for another Tour de France a la Voile, Mohammed Mubarak Al Makrini, Mohammed Al Mujaini and Fahad Al Hasni who is a regular on the MOD70.

The Omanis will be joined by a mix of Irish and French sailors who once again are familiar faces in Oman Sail teams; they feature Cedric Pouligny, Oman Sail’s skipper in three previous Tour de France a la Voile campaigns, Shane Hugues, Alex Pallu, Guillaume Berenger, Gilles Favennec, Damien lehl and well-known Irish sailor, Damian Foxall who most recently raced under Omani colours during the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre with Sidney.

Gavignet already has a Tour de France a la Voile trophy in his cabinet. He won it in 1996 as part of the Edouard Leclerc – Région SCASO crew. He came second the year before on Brut de Faberge and last competed in 1998 when he came fifth on Le Pradet/DCN.

“I would hope we can get a podium place in the Tour,” he said, breaking off from M34 training in France. “If we can get on the podium, it would be a great result for Oman Sail. We are aiming to build an elite squad made up of Omani and European sailors and as a team, we hope to improve on previous results.”

Description:The Oman Sail M34 training in France prior to the 2013 season starting picture shows Jean-Marie Liot / Lloyd Images

Description:The Oman Sail M34 training in France prior to the 2013 season starting picture shows Jean-Marie Liot / Lloyd Images

Results from the M34 contests at Spi Ouest France, Grand Prix Guyader in May, Normandy Sailing Week then Tour de France a Voile will serve as both development and performance benchmarks for the team.

The MOD70 programme, starting with work up events, Grand Prix Guyader and Armen race in France in May, also includes corporate sailing at Kiel Week, the Artemis Challenge during Cowes Week and culminates in the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race that starts just over a week after the end of the Tour de France a la Voile, in August.

“Even if there isn’t the kind of MOD70 racing we have had in previous years, sailing this multihull is still a challenge,” said Gavignet. “Being able to sail a very fast boat well is a very useful development experience for our Omani sailors. The best possible scenario this summer would be to win the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race on corrected time and to gain a place on the podium in the Tour de France a la Voile. That would be perfect.

“The MOD70 is very different from the M34 so by the end of the summer, we should see some real improvements in the squad,” he said.

In addition to its MOD70 and M34 campaigns, Oman Sail will continue to develop its fledgling Women’s Sailing Programme with a girls team on the J80 European circuit between April and July. The girls squad will include regulars Ibtisam Al Salmi, Raiya Al Habsi and Raja Al Owaisi who will be joined by Nashwa Al Kindi one of the Oman Sail female instructors who most recently completed a trans ocean crossing with Hilary Lister, and British Olympic sailor Mary Rook. For Spi Ouest, an all-Omani male crew will race alongside the girls on a J80; the team will include Fahad Al Hasni, Nasser Al Mashari, Ali Al Balushi and Sami Al Shukily.

by gahinet

by gahinet

Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014

MOD70 programme

  • 2-5 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez, France
  • 30 May-1 June: Armen Race, La Trinite sur Mer, France
  • 21-29 June: Kiel Week, Germany
  • 2-9 August: Artemis Challenge, Cowes Week, UK
  • 10-14 August: Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race

M34 programme

  • 17-21 April: Spi Ouest, France
  • 8-11 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez, France
  • 9-15 June: Normandy Sailing Week, France
  • 4-28 July: Tour de France a la Voile

J80 programme

  • 17-21 April: Spi Ouest, France
  • 28-31 May: Grand Prix Ecole Navale, France
  • 9-15 June: Normandy Sailing Week, France
  • 27 June-4 July: J80 European Championships, Spain (TBC)

 


Jean-Marie Liot / Lloyd ImagesDescription:The Oman Sail M34 training in France prior to the 2013 season starting picture shows Mohamed Al Makhrini(OMA) bowman Jean-Marie Liot / Lloyd Images

Jean-Marie Liot / Lloyd ImagesDescription:The Oman Sail M34 training in France prior to the 2013 season starting picture shows Mohamed Al Makhrini(OMA) bowman Jean-Marie Liot / Lloyd Images

OMAN AIR MUSANDAM MOD70  Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall (Photo by Jean Marie Liot)

OMAN AIR MUSANDAM MOD70 Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall (Photo by Jean Marie Liot)

This transatlantic race for the MOD70s was characterised by a fast, relatively testing exit of the English Channel followed after the Bay of Biscay by a difficult passage of Cape Finisterre in big seas and building winds – which skipper Gavignet later described as the worst he had seen on a MOD70 –before escaping into the Portuguese Trade Winds allowed an initial break by Edmond de Rothschild.The two MOD70s closed up after the Doldrums and Oman Air – Musandam were less than 30 miles behind on Saturday night before they dropped off the back of the cold front there.

Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall arrive in Brazil to take second in the Transat Jacques Vabre by Jean-Marie Liot

Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall arrive in Brazil to take second in the Transat Jacques Vabre by Jean-Marie Liot

Damian Foxall, co-skipper Oman Air-Musandam: “I think that we made a few mistakes but Edmond de Rothschild made less. The most important thing for us when we finish an event like this is to say we have no regrets, and we have small sporting regrets, a couple of things we could have done a little bit better, but we crossed the finish line and feel very happy with the two weeks we have been at sea, Edmond de Rothschild deserved the win. It would have been nice to have been a little bit closer but we dropped off the back after coming out of the cold front off Cabo Frio, and we had a few little technical things which slowed us down, but to be in is awesome. I guess going around Finisterre we kind of overestimated the conditions, we maybe went a little bit into defensive mode, thinking long term, whereas we really needed to be pushing on then to stay with the strategic game, to go in the right direction and to get south fast. The further south you got, the faster you got there and that was right through into the following week. We dropped off the back of it there a bit. And the other tough moments were putting a lot of work into getting back up to the other guys and I think we were up to 20 miles behind and then we lost the hydraulics and the rake on the rig.

That was about 36 hours ago. One moment that was pretty tough as well was when the port autopilot failed, the display on the helm, and so when the guy was helming on port, the other guy could not sleep, you stayed in the cuddy and every time you needed to trim, you had to call the other guy and so when you were off, you were not off.

There were difficult periods, we realised after the third of fourth day when we started to recover, really how much we had put in over the first couple of days, it does not take much to throw you out of your watch schedule, you don’t realise that you are digging into the reserves a bit.

Obviously one of the objectives was to arrive here in good shape, we have managed to do that and now we are ready for Brazil. The main objective was get here in good shape and if we did that it means we managed the machine well.

Once again we realise how fantastic these boats are, they are very close one designs, and they are really reliable in terms of the structure, we have been doing over 30kts averages through many of the watches, and over 600 mile days, and we had probably a little bit of apprehension going into this event as to how we would manage this machine with two people. But we realised very quickly that we worked out systems that worked, it worked well under autopilot and there are ways to set up the boat so that you can have 100% performance most of the time. And we were really surprised by that. It is brilliant, fantastic.”

Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Oman Air – Musandam: “In sport you have a spectacle and these boats certainly give you that. They are exceptional. When we arrived we had brilliant weather and just wanted to carry on sailing, they are just brilliant racing machines and I hope that there will be more next time. The race is fantastic and I was watching the website and it is great to read about all the boats, the big and the small. It is a beautiful race. It is tough and now that we are on land I look back and am surprised at just how well we were able to adapt, now we are no longer scared and we learnt a lot.”

Long Lining
Meanwhile the two leading Multi 50s continue their duel down the Brazilian coast in steady E’ly trade winds on what is presently just a straightforward head to head boatspeed contest. They have no real strategic options ahead until Cabo Frio at the entrance to the Bay of Rio. They should pass the entrance to Salvador de Bahia today in just a little over 12 days which will stand up well against the 2005 mark set by Franck Yves Escoffier of 12 days and 6 hours 14 minutes.

FenêtréA Cardinal (Le Roux-Elies) and Actual (Le Blévec-de Pavant) remain in close contact with some 25 miles separating this closely matched leading duo.

It is one long straight for the IMOCA Open 60 monohulls, the leaders having crossed the Equator last night. Just as the feedback from the pre-race training sessions for the Famous Five at Port La Foret indicated, it seems MACIF find a sweet spot at times and are simply quicker. From being a matter of half a mile to a mile away from PRB (Riou-Le Cam) yesterday Francois Gabart and Michel Desjoyeaux have been able to climb steadily away in the trade winds, opening the gap to over 12 miles this morning, the Vendée Globe winning duo sailing almost a knot faster than Riou and Le Cam as they passed the Fernando de Noronha island group. Presently they are just around one day behind the leading Multi 50s. As their SEly trade winds back E then they should accelerate still further away from the boats behind them.

Italian Vendée Globe skipper Alessandro de Benedetto was on typically excellent form when he spoke to Race HQ in Itajaí from his trusty Team Plastique. He and his co-skipper Alberto de Monaco are enjoying their race against their friends on Energa and Initiative Coeur.

It is a sunny day and we are taking the advantage to be at the helm all the time, to exploit our capacity to sail faster than the autopilot. Energa are a faster boat and it is difficult to keep them behind us, Magic and Gutek are faster, and so is Initiatives Couer. So we are really taking this chance to always be at the helm and push. It will not be easy to stay ahead of them, but we will try and do out best.

The Polish duo Magic and Gutek on Energa were tidying up after an encounter with an unspecified sea mammal or big fish, lying just five miles behind the Italians on Team Plastique. Gutek reported:

After our collision with a with UFO we seem to be all OK after our keel inspection. We washed out all the blood from cockpit. After an inspection with the GoPro we’re sure the keel is OK, no traces of yesterday’s collision. Huge relief… Fish are flying like crazy, but only at night. Temperature – hot!!! Very hot! We wish we’d like some good lightwind sails, but for now we need to go with what we have.

In Class 40 Jorg Riechers and Pierre Brasseur on second placed Mare are waiting for the Doldrums for their chance to pounce on long time leaders GDF SUEZ, sailed by Sébastien Rogues and Fabien Delahaye.

Everything is good on board, we are in good shape and the wind is building, we should catch up some miles on GDF SUEZ soon. I still have some pain in my back with the bruising I got when I fell during the first night out from Roscoff. It will pass.” Riechers said today.

“And looking at the Doldrums we can certainly see an option. We have an idea of what we are going to do but we are not saying what.”

Class40 ‘ are still in the NE’ly trade winds passed or passing the Cape Verde islands, most at least 80 miles to the west. Only Phoenix (Duke – Alran) passed through the islands without losing out too much. But now the target seems to be 29 ° W for the most favourable passage which is good for those in the west but those to the east will have to run deeper and slower or maybe make two gybes to get down. So that is the choice for the chasing pack but the leaders seem to have it taped,

Philippe Legros, co -skipper Cheminees Poujoulat: “Congratulations to the MOD70s. They were fast. I sailed with Roland Jourdain at first and they are really fantastic boats. I congratulate them for their performance. Our boat is going well but we are bit down after the Doldrums option which sees us feeling it now, trying to pick up the pieces, to keep getting the rankings and be going backwards, but we are happy to be here and keep attacking. In front of us there is a long, straight line of 1000 miles but after that there is a Cabo Frio where there might be some options, a few potholes perhaps and after that still three or four hundred miles of coast. The Multi 50s have chosen to stay near the coast, but the weather files change , it is not really clear whether it will be as good an option for us when we get there. The gap to MACIF? Well I’d love to say that we can catch up, but in fact we are not really seeing it as possible right now. But nothing is wrong with the boat, it works perfectly, and so there is no reason not to continue to push very hard.”

Sounds in English:

Brian Thompson (Caterham Challenge)
http://www.transat-jacques-vabre.com/sites/default/files/audio/son/brianthompson_catheramchallenge_20131119.mp3

Alessandro Di Benedetto (Team Plastique)
http://www.transat-jacques-vabre.com/sites/default/files/audio/son/alessandrodibenedetto_teamplastique_20131119_uk.mp3

Michelle Zwagerman (Croix du Sud)
http://www.transat-jacques-vabre.com/sites/default/files/audio/son/michellezwagerman_croixdusud_20131119_0.mp3

 

See latest postions for the fleets:
http://www.transat-jacques-vabre.com/fr/classement
2011 Title Defenders
Monohull 60′:
Virbac-Paprec
Jean-Pierre DICK & Jérémie BEYOU
15days 18h 15min 54sec
Multihull 50′:
Actual
Yves LE BLEVEC & Samuel MANUARD
17days 17h 7min 43sec

Class 40′:
Aquarelle.com
Yannick BESTAVEN
& Éric DROUGLAZET
21days 17h 59min 8sec

Follow the race:
Internet
Live tracking updated every 30 minutes.
Race Tracker URL: http://tracking.transat-jacques-vabre.com/en/

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) on the MOD70 Oman Air – Musandam crossed the finish line of the Transat Jacques Vabre finish line off Itajai, Brasil at 20h 04m 09 sec local time (22h 04m 09 secs) 5 hrs and 15 seconds after the winner Edmond de Rothschild (Sébastien Josse and Charles Caudrelier). The duo took 11 days 10 hours 04mins and 09 seconds to complete the 5,450 miles (theoretical course) between Le Havre and Itajaí, at an average speed of 19.71 kts. They actually sailed 5968 miles at an average of 21.77 kts.
Oman Air- Musandam

Oman Air- Musandam

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with co skipper Damian Foxall

The Transat Jaques Vabre 2013. Le Havre – Itajai, Brazil The Oman Air Musandam MOD70 skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with co skipper Damian Foxall (IRL). Shown here in the race village prior to the race start. (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images

Gale force winds sweeping in from the Atlantic over the weekend in Le Havre have forced the race committee to postpone the start of the 11th edition of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Initially scheduled for Sunday 3 November, the start will now be on Monday at 14:15 CET for the IMOCA 60, Class 40 and Multi 50 fleets.

The Transat Jaques Vabre 2013 Oman Air - Musandam by Mark Lloyd

The Transat Jaques Vabre 2013. Le Havre – Itajai, Brazil Pictures of the Oman Air Musandam MOD70 skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with co skipper Damian Foxall (IRL). Shown here in the race village prior to the race start. (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Oman Air-Musandam will line up with fellow MOD70 Edmond de Rothschild for a 20 nautical mile prologue on Monday starting from the northern-most point of the race start line and racing up the coast and back, before returning to the dock in Le Havre to wait for their official start, currently planned for Wednesday 6 November.

The prologue results will define the starting time on Wednesday, so winning will be important, but as Oman Air-Musandam’s French skipper Sidney Gavignet pointed out: “Most importantly, the idea for the prologue is not to make a mistake and break something before the start of the race. We want to sail clean and simple and I think Edmond de Rothschild is on the same page as us.”

Co skipper onboard, Damian Foxall, Ireland’s most celebrated offshore sailor and recent winner of the Volvo Ocean Race onboard Groupama, explained the weather situation that has prompted the race committee’s decision: “We are into a typical November situation with intense lows following each other across the Atlantic and bringing a lot of wind to the North of France, the Bay of Biscay and the race course area. The tidal current is very strong as well, so for six hours twice a day we have wind over tide, which really makes the sea state very difficult and dangerous.

“For the race committee it is a case of finding the least dangerous and difficult window to get the fleet off safely. The start will be upwind and bouncy – there is a really big sea out there and it is really a case of finding the safest moment. The goal of trying to finish all the classes together is really out of the window now, the main thing is to get everyone started safely,” he added.

Looking forward to Wednesday’s MOD70 start, Sidney Gavignet said: “It is going to be very hard for the whole Transat Jacques Vabre fleet until we reach Finisterre – Biscay is very rough with a 4-5metre swell. We will have a strong upwind start to the race, but the committee is open to delaying more if necessary. The conditions at this time of the year are constantly changing and evolving. Their decision to delay is a good one.”

In the meantime, the Oman Air-Musandam duo is looking forward to getting cold and wet again on Monday: “We went out last Tuesday to sail the area a bit and to stay fresh and sharp and we are looking forward to going out again on Monday. We have been sitting around for a week so it is time to get back out there and stay fresh!” said Foxall.

News ashore for the Sultanate of Oman’s Ministry of Tourism “DISCOVER OMAN” exhibition is excellent with thousands of people passing through to sample the traditional coffee and dates on offer and to watch the henna artist in action. “In just one day last week, 1,000 people entered the Visit Oman competition. The numbers of people we are seeing at our exhibition has exceeded all our expectations. We are very excited by the favourable reaction of the French public. This is a very important tourism market for the Sultanate of Oman,” said Salma Al Hashmi, marketing and communications director for Oman Sail.

Oman Air-Musandam team for the Transat Jacques Vabre 2013

Oman Flag and the Oman Air Crew onboard MOD70 Oman Air-Musandam

Oman Flag and the Oman Air Crew onboard MOD70 Oman Air-Musandam (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Sidney Gavignet (FRA) skipper

Sidney is one of the most highly respected French offshore sailors with multiple Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup campaigns to his name, including a VOR win in 2005-06 onboard ABN AMRO. He joined the Oman Sail project in 2010 as skipper of the 105ft trimaran, Oman Air-Majan, on which he broke the Round Britain and Ireland record. In 2011 he joined the Oman Air Extreme 40 team before switching his focus to the MOD70 project for 2012. He led the team for the 2012 MOD70 European Tour and returned as skipper in 2013. With 20 transatlantics, of which three were double-handed, four round the worlds, two Solitaire du Figaro races, one transatlantic record and a Volvo Ocean Race win, he brings much experience to the team.

Sidney Gavignet bio

m8996_sg-bio

Damian Foxall (IRL) co skipper

Damian is one of the world’s greatest offshore sailors and Ireland’s most accomplished yachtsman. He is a Volvo Ocean Race veteran in his own right with four campaigns behind him, including the recent Groupama victory in 2011-12.

He won the Barcelona World Race in 2007-08, raced with the K-Challenge America’s Cup team in 2004. With 30 years of ocean and dinghy racing experience, 350,000 nautical miles, 18 transatlantics and nine round the world events to date he makes a solid co skipper on the Oman Air-Musandam team.

m8997_damian-foxall-bio

 

Oman Air - Musandam by Mark Lloyd

The Transat Jaques Vabre 2013 Oman Air – Musandam by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images