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
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.
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.
“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.
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!”
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
- Banque Populaire VII/Loick Peyron/103ft – 7 days, 15 hours, 8 minutes, 32 seconds
- Spindrift II/Yann Guichard/131ft – 8 days, 5 hours, 18 minutes, 46 seconds
- Edmond de Rothschild/Sebastien Josse/modified MOD70 – 8 days, 14 hours, 47 minutes, 9 seconds
- Prince de Bretagne/Lionel Lemonchois/80ft – 8 days 17 hours 44 minutes, 50 seconds
- Musandam-Oman Sail/Sidney Gavignet/70ft – 8 days 19 hours 15 minutes, 24 seconds
- Idec/Francis Joyon/97ft – still racing
- Paprec Recyclage/Yann Eliès/70ft – still racing
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.
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.
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
The weather forecast for the first few days of La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe seems to suggest that the 3,542 miles from Saint-Malo to Pointe-à-Pitre will be quick. But first up there will be an active frontal system to cross before Ushant.
Sunday afternoon’s start will see the SSW’ly breeze at around 15-18kts with some squally bursts perhaps. But the first three days of racing will be quite tough for the 91 solo skippers competing on this legendary Transatlantic. And with such a promising forecast it seems there might be every chance the outright race record of 7 days 17 hours 19mins 6 secs of Lionel Lemonchois, set in 2006 on Gitana XI, might fall.
It had to happen some time. The blocking high pressure system which has provided summer-like weather for most of the times in Saint-Malo will give way to more usual Autumnal conditions, an Atlantic low pressure arriving on cue for Sunday’s start. The weather will worsen progressively along the Brittany coast and there will likely be rain just after the 1400hrs local time start gun.
The 91 solo skippers gathered for their final meteo briefing this morning as Meteo Consult provided them with their final weather analysis. Sunday afternoon will see SSW’ly winds of around 15-18 kts but with some much bigger gusts. The breeze will veer more west behind the front, easing slightly initially but it will always be gusty. The air temperature will be around 13-16 deg C. The Ultime leaders might well have passed Cap Fréhel ahead of the front but for most this will mean headwinds.
The soloists will have a long port tack to get out of the Channel. But around midnight a second, more active front will bring a big increase in wind strength from the SW, gusting to 40-45kts with a chaotic sea. And this will be one of the key phases of this Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe. Approaching and around the tip of Brittany there are a powerful combination of big untidy waves, busy maritime traffic and gusty winds, so the real strategy here will be trying not to break anything whilst still keeping the pace on.
By daytime Monday the biggest Ultimes should be into the brisk NW’ly which will make for a fast descent to Madeira which they should reach by Tuesday night. But meantime for the first part of Monday the IMOCA and Multi 50s will have a pretty tough time trying to find the right tempo across the first part of Biscay in an unruly, nasty sea making a messy, stressful passage to Cape Finisterre for Tuesday morning.
Overall it is quite a promising forecast. Class 40 and the Rhum fleet will need to take it more carefully but there really is only one general route south and the fleets should enjoy more of a speed rather than strategy race.
In the Class 40 fleet Briton Conrad Humphreys says he has never been better prepared or felt as good before a race start but the pressure will be on from the start. There is a critical stage early on where the skippers must time their approach through Sunday night’s front to make sure they can get comfortably inside the Ushant traffic separation zone, or not. There is a tactical danger in being squeezed out to the west by the zone when the main opposition is inside, able to cut the corner and get south across Biscay earlier.
“The critical thing will be how far west you get and whether you are positioned inside or outside the separation zone at Ushant. If you are caught half way you can’t cross the separation zone. And so the timing of that shift is important. After that the Bay of Biscay is going to be quite lively. I think the sea state will be one of the worst things, 4-5m swell with waves on top and then a lot of rain. The further south we get the High will have an effect and it will start to calm down a bit, but I think for most of the first 24-36 hours it will be quite wild. It is so critical to be with the pack and to get through that first shift with them. If you don’t they can be going quite fast and the ones who don’t will be still on the wind, have less runway to get around Ushant and so on. I have to say you will have to sail quite aggressively.”
In boisterous sea and wind conditions, with rain showers passing through, the start itself holds the possibility is problems. Indeed that is the phase that concerns Miranda Merron (Campagne de France) most immediately. The France-based English soloist said after the weather briefing:
“It’s November. You are going to take a kicking some time and this first bit looks tough, but it is the start with all the traffic and stress around that worries me most. I just want to get away cleanly and safely.”
Ari Huusela (FINLAND) – Rhum Class, Neste Oil:
“It is a victory to be here. In total we have had almost 20 people involved in the project at home in Finland. It is my passion to sail alone, that is why I want to do this race. This is the pinnacle. I have had this boat two years after it took me seven years to realise my dream. I think the boat is good, I am going to enjoy it as much as possible.”
Yann Guichard (Ultime) – SPINDRIFT 2:
“Everyone knows that the start phase is always critical. I know that if I have to do an emergency change of tack, it can’t be done in two minutes. The first twelve hours are going to be complicated. It looks like we’re going to have to do two changes of tack. This isn’t where the race is going to be won, but it is where it can be lost.”
Loïck Peyron (Ultime) – MAXI SOLO BANQUE POPULAIRE VII:
“The start is never easy for anyone. And here it’s going to be violent. There is going to be wind and lots of rain: typical sailor’s weather. This will make things a bit more dramatic, as we’re straight into the rough stuff.”
To follow the race on click La Route du Rhum-Destination Guadeloupe
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!
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…”
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.”
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.
Musandam-Oman Sail on top of the world after breaking Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Record by 16 minutes
Musandam-Oman Sail have set a new world record for sailing round Britain and Ireland after shaving 16 minutes off the current record and taking line honours in the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race after a nail-biting end to a remarkable three days.
An exhausted but jubilant Sidney Gavignet and his crew of Damian Foxall, Fahad Al Hasni, Sami Al Shukaili, Yassir Al Rahbi and Jan Dekker crossed the Cowes finish line at 12.42.36 BST on Thursday 14th August 2014.
Their time for the 1956 nms course was 3 days 03 hours 32 minutes and 36 seconds which was just 16m 38s faster than the previous World Record set by Banque Populaire 5 in 2011. They averaged an incredible 23.8 knots all the way round the course and had no idea until they crossed the finish line that they had taken the record.
“We didn’t realise we had broken the record until we crossed the finish line,” said Gavignet.
“We got to St Catherine’s two hours before doing 30 knots but suddenly there was a cloud and no wind so we thought our chances had gone. But we kept working and working and finally we made it 16 minutes before the time limit.”
There was plenty of luck involved, he added.
“The weather was exceptional…I doubt you could find better for the Round Britain and Ireland Race except for two little clouds at the finish. We went round Great Britain and the islands without a tack, only gybes. No tack, zero tacks. That is rare possibly unique.
“It’s amazing to beat Loick Peyron and his boys on Banque Populaire 5 which is almost two times bigger than us. I kept saying there is no way we can beat that boat so it is a surprise. I’m a happy skipper.”
Musandam-Oman Sail also knocked a massive 2 days 17 hours and 52 minutes off the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race Record of 5 days 21 hours 26 minutes 55 seconds set by Franck Cammas’ monohull Groupama in 2010.
For the first time, Musandam-Oman Sail was racing with three Omani sailors in a total crew of six, with Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi joining Oman Sail’s flagship boat just one month prior to the race.
“It was my dream to race on the MOD70 when I joined Oman Sail,” enthused Al Shukaili.
“I pushed myself hard to lose weight and to sail hard every day to get into shape for the MOD70 and Fahad gave me a big push to sail with him. I knew there was a time to beat to break the record but at the finish I wasn’t sure if we had done it. But I saw everyone was happy so I was happy with them.”
Gavignet paid tribute to his Omani crewmembers, especially his two new recruits.
“They were not seasick, which is impressive and did not get tired and had a fantastic attitude. They picked up a lot of things on this trip and gained valuable experience. We have found two new Omani sailors which is great for us, great for them and great for Oman Sail.”
Fahad Al Hasni has been with Musandam-Oman Sail from the day it was launched in 2012 and has many thousands of trimaran racing miles under his belt but this world record represented a special moment in his career, he said.
“It was good fun and it is great to come back with the record and to have the boat in one piece. Everyone is good and we are happy to have a crew that is half Omani for the first time and feel it is a really big thing to have done.”
Ireland’s foremost offshore sailor Damian Foxall has raced around the world seven times yet he too said this world record was one of his finest achievements.
“I would put this record up at the top of my list of achievements – the enormity hasn’t really sunk in yet!” he said.
“Just to put things into context, two of our Omani crewmates had only stepped on to the MOD70 at the beginning of the season and they have made huge progress.
“The fact that we were able to push that hard around the course is a reflection of the crew’s ability and bodes well for the future of Oman Sail – we are on the right track.”
The stars of the show, according to Jan Dekker, one of the most experienced offshore sailors in the world but racing a MOD70 for the first time, were the ‘amazing’ boat and crew.
“Amazing conditions but mostly an amazing boat,” he said.
“Doing 30-35 knots all the time. It was quite brutal – I have sailed ORMA 60s a fair bit but this was full on. The only thing you can do down below is to hang on. The three Omanis were great – some more experienced than others but all totally at home on the boat.”
Tributes started pouring in as soon as Musandam-Oman Sail’s success was confirmed.
“This record is a testament to hard work all round,” said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail. “Sidney and Damian have dedicated much of their time training our Omani sailing squad in all aspects of offshore sailing.
“Our Omani sailors have soaked that up over the last couple of seasons and worked hard in self-improvement. The world record beating crew was 50% Omani Nationals and this is a real achievement. We are a step nearer our goal and I am delighted for all the sailors.”
When the celebrations have died down and the crew taken a well-earned rest, Gavignet will be on the move again, fitting his ‘solo’ kit to the MOD70 and kicking off his preparations for the single-handed Route du Rhum in November.
“We will have a little rest and a chat then head back to Lorient with our solo kit – our first single handed experience on this boat. I’m not sure what it will be like sailing solo on this boat. I think it will be tough so I will need plenty of luck. It is easy to capsize these boats so it will be about staying upright.
“This is a great way to finish our crewed season – a real high point, before going into the next phase towards the Route du Rhum.
“I think Musandam-Oman Sail and I can go quite fast together. I know the challenge is massive but it is a gift for me and I will go step by step.”
The record is yet to be ratified by the WSSR Council.