Oman Air's Majan (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Oman Air's Majan (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)


In an interview with Sam Davies the French skipper explains how his 100ft trimaran Oman Air Majan broke up.

After a long night for the Oman Air Majan team, they are pleased to report that skipper Sidney Gavignet is now safely onboard the bulk carrier Kavo Alexander. The incident which occurred at 16:35 CET yesterday (3 November) was dealt with swiftly by the shore team, race management, rescue teams and crew of the Kavo Alexander who ensured Sidney’s rescue within four hours or his first call. (Read previous story here.)

Kavo Alexander is en route to Turkey, and it is not confirmed if Sidney will be dropped off in Gibraltar or Malta with an approximate ETA between the 6 and 9 November respectively. The Oman Air Majan technical team drove through the night from the base in Lorient to Paris to board a flight to the Azores early this morning (4 November). They are due to arrive in Horta this afternoon. A boat is on standby and ready to leave with the team to take them to Oman Air Majan, which is still being tracked by the team, and is approximately 250 miles north east of the Azores.

The technical team are monitoring the weather, conditions are good and the forecast looks set to improve over the next 24-36 hours.  It will take approx 24-hours for the technical team to reach Oman Air Majan by boat, during that time they will be preparing a plan to recover as much of the boat as possible. At this time the team believe that all parts of the boat are still together and they will aim to tow Oman Air Majan back to the Azores.

Transcribe of an audio call with Sidney onboard bulk carrier Kavo Alexander 22:00 CET (3 November):

Sam Davies: Can you explain the conditions you were in and what happened?

Sidney Gavignet: I was going upwind, at 70 true wind angle and I had two reefs, and a J2.  I was ready with the J3, the wind was increasing and planned to increase a little bit. But I thought it was still safe handling for the boat.

It was daylight, I was well rested, well fed. Everything was fine, I thought nothing was damaged on the boat at that time so far it was a good race on that side. After we jumped over a wave, probably a little  harder than others, I heard a crack and I thought it was the daggerboard even if the top of it was higher than deck level which is quite far up*. Then I came out and looked around and I saw on the front leeward crossbeam probably 1m away from the float the crossbeam was broken. Then it went very very quick, in probably 2 to 3 seconds I was easing the traveller and the float came out of the crossbeam I think it was still linked at that time with the aft crossbeam. But because the front was not linked to the float the boat capsized almost, the mast was horizontal and platform vertical.

I was pretty disorientated at that time but the damage was done so my first concern was to find my survival suit, liferaft and grab bag, which I found very quickly.  I then realized in fact there was no massive panic as I had a feeling very quickly that the boat would stay afloat, and was safe in the boat. Which was my first concern in the beginning. I put the survival suit on and I called Race Director Jean Maurel. I didn’t reach him so left a message and then I called Seb Chernier from Oman Sail to explain the situation, I told him I would put the eprib on.

(*The daggerboard was not fully down. Sidney judges the level of the board by comparing the top of the board with the deck level.)

SD: What was your immediate reaction when this happened?

SG: When your boat breaks you realise it’s very serious, but about my life no, I reacted quickly to look for my survival suit. The safety de-brief we had before leaving in St.Malo was fresh in my mind so that was an important de-brief. I don’t think I was scared for my life. I was in some sort of control and I didn’t have any fear. My first concern was that the boat was totally broken and I needed to find a way to tell the family without making them too scared. They realised quickly it was safe, so that was a good thing.

SD: It is pretty hard to help the boat in that situation, did you attempt to try amd secure anything on the boat?

SG: I thought about it, but at the beginning I didn’t want to go out of the companion way too much, because there were cables moving around the exit, and the shrouds were just in front of the doors I thought it was a bit dangerous and I wanted to look at situation a little more before going outside. I was thinking about cutting the rig to let go of the mast, which was probably a good solution because I don’t think it is composite sandwich and would therefore sink. The problem is that you need to cut many, many cables and some were attached to the free float (which was separate from the float), that was pretty difficult because on the leeward side you have the broken mast and float so I think it was too dangerous to try that.

SD: Can you describe the next part of the rescue?

SG: Not long after a call to Jean Maurel race director, who said he would call the COSS (French organization for safety at sea), they called my iridium phone which was still working. After a few tries I managed to give them a position. Not long after I had a call from the Portuguese rescue organization who asked if I was ready to leave the boat. My first answer was yes, but after they asked me the question I was a bit concerned. I said yes, but then I thought is this really the right thing to do? I thought about it a bit more, I think it was the correct decision as there was nothing more I could on the boat. Before leaving to make sure we could track the boat (Oman Air Majan) I activated a spare tracker and an Argos beacon which is also giving a signal for the boat at the moment. I had to take the rescue beacon off the boat to make sure that the world knows the rescue operation is complete.

SD: What happens next?

SG: The boat is coming from Canada and going to Turkey, they don’t know if we will stop in Gibraltar or Malta in order for them to re-fuel. We are doing 13 knots towards Gibraltar at the moment. But for them it’s a risky situation and the people were great, they risked their life for me, especially when we had to climb in the small rescue boat when they came to pick me up. I’m not feeling very proud to have put them in that situation and I would like to thank them for all their help. Here on the ship I am very welcome but I can see that life continues for them.

SD: Can you briefly described the state of Oman Air Majan when you left her?

SG: Just before I left the boat the platform was vertical and the mast horizontal. Not long after that the mast was still in one piece but not long after the mast broke. As the mast broke the platform came back almost horizontal between 15-20 degrees. In fact it came back completely horizontal just between the port float and main hull, and the reason for that is that starboard float came totally loose, it was still partially attached by the aft cross beam, and then it finally broke. I thought it was a good thing but in fact I don’t think it is because that float came underneath the starboard crossbeam and I think now it is a free float which is hitting the main hull so I don’t know which one will resist but I don’t think it is good that the two pieces are hitting each other, and the mast is still attached of course.

SD: When do think you will arrive?

SG: It is not very clear. They have an ETA of the sixth but I think you can probably see we’re doing 13 knots and we are north of the Azores so you can probably calculate that. For me they still do their watch system and I didn’t have time to speak much with them. I try to be as discreet as possible to make the captain and those people accept me.

SD: How are you, were you injured?

SG: No, not at all. I have no injury from the crash. How do I feel? I don’t know, I feel very weird.

David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail, commented: “Sidney Gavignet is a strong man, a hugely focused racer, a man of the sea who had a phenomenal start to the Route du Rhum 2010. I’m astonished at how well Sidney dealt with this scenario, he did everything right which meant we didn’t have to ask another competitor to divert. Dressed in his survival suit, mast wrecked, starboard float disconnected from the front of the boat, potentially sinking he asked me formally for permission to abandon ship.

Like Formula 1 it is a mechanical sport, Sidney was totally focused in racing mode. We have no idea what caused the failure, our capable team are on the way to the boat as we speak, and we hope that they will be able to recover the boat. Yes, of course we’re hugely disappointed about the breakage. Oman Sail and Oman Air worked incredibly hard with this part of the project, however Sidney is unhurt and safe and this is what really matters. We are inspiring the Omani nation to sail and with that come inherent risks – ones we will also make in the future.

I would like to extend my sincere thanks to Oman Air our fully supportive sponsor, Jean Maurel the race director and his team at Pen Duick for thier assistance. The captain of KAVO Alexander and his crew, my extremely capable response team, and of course Sidney for his phenomenal performance.”

Oman Air's Majan (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Oman Air's Majan (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

At 1648hrs (GMT+1) the skipper of Oman Air Majan, Sidney Gavignet called to say that his boat has suffered a major damage to the leeward front beam. Oman Air Majan was sailing in headwinds of 20 knots, but the conditions were not extreme. Sidney Gavignet has activated his distress beacon. He has put on his survival suit and is uninjured. He is in the central pod and is clear of the water. Course Director Jean Maurel is in contact with the Portuguese MRCC to coordinate the rescue and is in permanent contact with Sidney and his shore team.

Mega Crowds in St. Malo For The Route du Rhum Skippers (Photo by Colin Merry)

Mega Crowds in St. Malo For The Route du Rhum Skippers (Photo by Colin Merry)

Crowds flocked to the skippers reception last night.   Even a vociferous demo by the French unions (complaining about France’s rise in pensionable age) couldn’t dampen the way in which each skipper was applauded as they mounted the stage.   People crowded the whole area stretching back as for as the eye could see! 

More Crowds For Pre-start Festivities (Photo by Colin Merry)

More Crowds For Pre-start Festivities (Photo by Colin Merry)

 Some climbing trees and still others clinging to the lamp posts! Everyone was determined to get a glimpse of these brave men and women before they set off on the ”Route de Rhumb”.   I was particularly warmed by the reception Pete Goss got as his name was announced and he mounted the stage to what was the loudest applause and cheers all night.   The French still hold him in very high esteem to this day.

At Skippers Presentation Pete Goss shares a photo with Richard Tolkien, ICAP (Photo by Colin Merry)

At Skippers Presentation Pete Goss shares a photo with Richard Tolkien, ICAP (Photo by Colin Merry)

After the reception Team DMS, the sponsors and guests retired to a pub for some very welcome R&R.  I say pub but once inside it became clear that this was a strange hostelry indeed!   Dolls and weird bric a brac everywhere.  

At A Very Strange Bar (Photo by Colin MerrY)

At A Very Strange Bar with Swings for seats (Photo by Colin Merry)

 The bar seats were swings hanging from the ceiling.   Oh and did I mention the three piece ensemble that entertained us?   They were completely off the wall but good in a ‘different’ sort of way.

Swings At Bar Seats?  (Photo by Colin Merry)

A Very Strange in a good way bar . (Photo by Colin Merry)

Anyway, back to the race.   I walked past one tri for the best part of a week before recognising her. None other than Ellen MacArthur’s B&Q!

B&Q  (Photo by Colin Merry)

B&Q (Photo by Colin Merry)

  Gone is the familiar livery and now she is plain white. Turned into a Pizza delivery judging by the logos being applied as I watched one evening.

B&Q Pizza Delivery?  (Photo by Colin Merry)

B&Q Pizza Delivery? (Photo by Colin Merry)

On DMS we have a constant stream of visitors, Media crew who want interviews.   Other skippers. Sponsors and guests. Plus old friends of Pete and Tom’s that reads like a who’s who of sailing.   One such visitor was Frederick Meunier, the boat builder responsible for DMS. 

Frederick Meunier top man in Class40' building (Photo by Colin Merry)

Frederick Meunier top man in Class40' building (Photo by Colin Merry)

  Fred’s Tunisia based yard ”MC Tech” has order books full until next May for the ”Akiliria” brand known as the RC2.   As we sat and chatted he was looking around at the mods that Tom had made since she left his yard.   A testament to Tom’s attention to detail when said he reckoned that she was the best turned out boat in the Class 40′ fleet.

Another Media Interview (Photo by Colin Merry)

Another Media Interview for Pete (Photo by Colin Merry)

As crowded as our boat was, at times it paled into insignificance compared to the crowds who by now had swelled to massive proportions!   It was gridlock on the roads in and around St. Malo and it threatened to become gridlock on the pavements too.   Looking out from a high vantage point it seemed that the predicted 1.2 million visitors had all arrived together today!   I can’t even begin to envisage what 18,000 people on the water tomorrow are going to look like.   Also add to that 100 ribs that will be inside the exclusion zone prior to the start and you begin to get some idea of the huge logistical enterprise that is the ”Route de Rhumb”.

The welcome that awaits in Quadalupe on the the streets of St. Malo (Photo by Colin Merry)

The welcome that awaits in Quadalupe on the the streets of St. Malo (Photo by Colin Merry)

Hope you’ve all enjoyed my snapshot of the ‘Route de Rhumb”. Catch up with the start tomorrow on or of course
Cheers, Colin Merry


Crowds At Skippers Presentation  (Photo by Colin Merry)

Crowds At Skippers Presentation (Photo by Colin Merry)

A100 Majan Passing a Container Ship (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

A100 Majan Passing a Container Ship (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

Just 97 days after Oman Sail’s A100 multihull Majan left her mooring in Muscat, the crew has completed tracing out the course of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, crossing the longitude of cape Ras Al Hadd for the second time yesterday at 23:30 GMT.
Leg 5 has been a magical final journey between the Cape Piai (Malaysia) and Majan’s home, steeped in history and spirituality courtesy of India’s Cape Comorin – but also high on emotion for the crew: whilst en route towards home, Mohsin Al Busaidi received a phone call informing him of the birth of his daughter!

After an activity-packed stopover in Singapore, Majan set sail again and crossed the longitude of Cape Piai on the 27th of April, welcoming on board a new crew member, Ali Hamad Ambusaidi, who shared his enthusiasm with onboard reporter Mark Covell: “I have always wanted to sail in the Indian Ocean and see the long rolling waves”, he said. “I have also wished that one day I could sail on Majan. Now I get the chance to do both at once.”

Ali Hamad Ambusaidi (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

Ali Hamad Ambusaidi (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

After a slow start, day 2 brought speed back on the menu, and thanks to warm winds Majan was starting to stretch her legs on fabulously flat seas, which meant the crew could enjoy the trimaran’s power without any shaky movement, under a glorious full moon… “Hard to beat,” as Mark Covell put it! The next day brought even better news, as Mohsin became the father of a little girl named Thura, a happy event that Paul Standbrige, Majan’s skipper, had never had celebrated on board a boat before despite his packed racer’s career.

Mohsin’s patience was certainly put to the test since Majan soon became trapped in light airs like a “fly in a sticky web.” As Mark Covell reported: “There is so little wind and the sea lies so still and lifeless. It’s 40º on deck and 33º in the water. Eating a hot meal is the last thing you want and sleep is harder to achieve in your roasting bunk. Will we ever get to Muscat?” It certainly has been a long slog back home, and it eventually took 15 days and 19 hours to complete the fifth and final leg, cape to cape (Piai to Ras Al Hadd).

Majan Crew At Sunset (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

Majan Crew At Sunset (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

With the pressure of the ticking clock lifted, Mark Covell sat down at his keyboard one last time while Majan was making her way towards Muscat: “As is the same with so many ocean voyages, we’re happy to have finished safely, but sad that it’s all over. By the time we get to the dock 140 nm from here we will have logged 20,419 nm sailed. The sun is rising over us and more poignantly it’s rising over Oman. We are home!”

97 days after their departure, the crew will now be duly welcomed and celebrated by their team and the Omani public after tracing out this new and challenging course that links together the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia, ahead of the first official edition of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race planned for spring 2012. OC Events Asia, organisers of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, would like to send Majan’s crew heartfelt congratulations for having superbly written the first chapter of a story bound to open new horizons!


Leg 5 in figures…

• Distance: 3,200 nm / 5,900 km

• Dock to dock:16 days 1 hours 00 minutes

• Cape to Cape: 15 days 19 hours 30 minutes


Mohammed and Sidney Helming Majan (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

Mohammed and Sidney Helming Majan (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)


Majan (Photo Courtesy of Oman Sail)

For the crew on board Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ the departure from the penultimate stopover in Singapore, proved a poignant moment as they set out on the final leg to cover the final 3,200 miles (5,900km) of this new Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course. Eager to reach their homeport of Muscat, Oman, but at the same time knowing this was the last stopover of the tour. The Oman Sail team, who have been promoting the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race ahead of the first official planned edition in 2012 as well as the new A100 class of boat, have been warmly received at every stopover from the Maldives, Cape Town to Fremantle and, lastly, Singapore.
‘Majan’ spent just over a week in Singapore showcasing Majan to the local media and VIP guests and left Keppel Bay Marina on Tuesday, 27th April to cross the start line of leg 5 south of Cape Piai: “On a beautiful day with 6 knots from a westerly direction we crossed the line to the south of Cape Piai at 04:00 UCT, midday local time,” reported media crew, Mark Covell. “Now, as we pick our way northwards up the course, we enter the Malacca Straits. With Malaysia to the East and Sumatra to the west, the straits get slowly wider, starting at 35nm and opening out to 145nm.” From an economic and strategic perspective the Strait of Malacca is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, being the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as India, China, Japan and South Korea. Over 50,000 vessels pass through the strait per year.

 Mark further explains the route to Muscat: “In about 600 miles we can turn to port and round Banda Aceh, northern Indonesia and head out to Sri Lanka. After passing Sri Lanka, we will carve around the bottom of Cape Cormorin [the final Cape on the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course], the southern most tip of India, which will be the last sight of land before seeing Oman. We will then race as fast as we can to the finish line off Cape Ras Al Hadd to enter the Gulf of Oman and home to Muscat. By then we will have raced over 16,000 sailing miles.”

The international crew led by skipper Paul Standbridge includes Frenchman Sidney Gavignet, Mark Covell, Mohsin Al Busaidi, Mohammed al Ghailani and they will now be joined by fellow Omani and Oman Sail’s academy instructor, Ali Hamad Ambusaidi: “I wished that one day I could sail on Majan, now I have the chance to do it. It’s an honour to be one of the crew. I look forward to learning a lot and seeing things I have only dreamed of before.”

Majan Crew Start Out On Leg 5 (Photo Courtesy of Oman Sail)

Majan Crew Start Out On Leg 5 (Photo Courtesy of Oman Sail)


The Oman Sail Majan crew will be eager to reach home having left Muscat nearly three months ago on the 16th February. “We are all looking forward to reaching Muscat. Mohsin and Mohammed have not seen their family and friends since we left. Mohsin’s wife is expecting a new baby very soon after we get back, so the homecoming will be very special indeed,” said Mark. The final leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race is expected to arrive in the first week of May.

About Cape Comorin:

Today known under the name of Kanyakumari, that tip of the Tamil Nadu State is the southernmost one of the Indian Peninsula and sits at the confluence of the Gulf of Mannar, the Arabian Sea and the Indian Ocean. Taking its name from the Kumari Amman Temple, this cape has been widely documented and is at the heart of numerous mythical episodes. Mentions of Comorin can be found in the works of Claudius Ptolemaeus (Ptolemy), the famous Greek geographer and mathematician, who notably produced a detailed – if not completely accurate – world description in his Geographia. Among the numerous legends linked with the place, one has it that the rocks scattered around the cape are grains that remained uncooked when the wedding between Hindu deity Shiva and Kanya Devi failed to happen: the husband-to-be never showed up, and the rice gradually turned to stone… But perhaps the most interesting story is that of Kumari Kandar, a mythical continent (or sunken landmass) which has long been believed to face the cape, its triangular shape pointing northwards taking up almost all of the Indian Ocean! Kanyakumari (Comorin) has always been an important commercial, cultural and spiritual centre, famous for its pearl fishing and beautiful temples which grant it today a special attraction power when it comes to tourism.
Coordinates: 8°07’ N – 77°54’ E

More on The Strait of Malacca:

From an economic and strategic perspective the Strait of Malacca is one of the most important shipping lanes in the world, being the main shipping channel between the Indian Ocean and the Pacific Ocean, linking major Asian economies such as India, China, Japan and South Korea. Over 50,000 vessels pass through the strait per year, carrying about one-quarter of the world’s traded goods including oil, Chinese manufactures, and Indonesian coffee.
At Phillips Channel close to the south of Singapore, the Strait of Malacca narrows to 2.8 km (1.5 nautical miles) wide, creating one of the world’s most significant traffic choke points. There are 34 shipwrecks, some dating to the 1880s, in the Traffic Separation Scheme (TSS), the channel for commercial ships. These pose a collision hazard in the narrow and shallow parts of the Straits.

The Strait of Malacca is a narrow, 805 km (500 mile) stretch of water between Peninsular Malaysia (West Malaysia) and the Indonesian island of Sumatra. It is named after the Empire of Melaka that ruled over the archipelago between 1414 to 1511.

Sunrise from Majan  (Photo Courtesy of Majan Crew)

Sunrise from Majan (Photo Courtesy of Majan Crew)


The crew of Leg 4 Marc Lagesse, Mohammed al Ghailani, Mohsin Al Busaidi, Paul Standbridge, Sidney Gavignet, Yann Regniau (Photo by Mark Covell / Majan / Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race)

The crew of Leg 4 Marc Lagesse, Mohammed al Ghailani, Mohsin Al Busaidi, Paul Standbridge, Sidney Gavignet, Yann Regniau (Photo by Mark Covell / Majan / Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race)



Majan .

The international crew on board Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ have celebrated their arrival in Singapore on the penultimate leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race. Majan left Fremantle (Australia) on the 9th April for the 2,700-mile leg to Singapore which has proved to be a ‘mild affair’ compared to the storm-fuelled leg from Cape Town to Fremantle with Majan surviving 70-knot winds in the Southern Ocean. The high-performance A100 trimaran crossed the finish line off Cape Piai, the fourth great Cape of the course, at 14:47 GMT on Sunday (18th April) completing the fourth leg that started from the Fremantle ‘city’ start line in 9 days and 10 hours and a Cape Leeuwin-Cape Piai reference time of 8 days, 15 hours, 12 minutes, then reached Keppel Bay Marina late evening.

As Majan has traced out this inaugural Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course via the Maldives, Cape Town, Fremantle and now Singapore – the first race to link together the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia – the 105-ft multihull has generated a huge amount of interest. Every effort has been made by the crew to share the stopover and promote this new race, ahead of the official edition in spring 2012, with the media, VIPs, school children and local government. The Majan crew have engaged with the locals at every stopover giving talks at the local yacht club, opening up Majan to the public with some enjoying the privilege of sailing on board.

Singapore in particular has close maritime ties with Oman and shortly after Majan departs, a second Oman ship will be arriving. The Jewel of Muscat is a recreation of a 9th century AD 60-ft trading vessel that was hand-built with 70,000 stitches and without one nail on a beach near Oman’s capital Muscat. Launched into the Oman Sea for the first time last November, the ship was named at a special ceremony in Muscat attended by an official delegation from the Republic of Singapore before setting sail on 16th February. The Jewel of Muscat has already stopped in India and will now stop in Sri Lanka and Malaysia before arriving in Singapore in July. As part of Oman’s programme to reignite its maritime eminence, the Sultanate will be giving the Jewel of Muscat to the People of Singapore as a gift to heighten the awareness of the old trading routes between the two countries.


Back on the high speed trimaran, Majan’s crew got off to good, albeit upwind, start to Leg 4 as they headed south to Cape Leeuwin – not easy when you’re next destination lies to the north! Omani crew, Mohammed al Ghailani, wrote: “I always find the first 48 hours at sea very hard. As soon as my body and sleep clock has become accustomed to the timing, I am happy again. When you have your sea legs you have stopped feeling sick. We had an upwind start again, and yes I was very ill!” After Cape Leeuwin the ride got easier as Majan pushed northwards, however, four days into the leg drama struck.


Media crew, Mark Covell, takes up the story: “Mohsin [Al Busaidi] was steering in around 15 knots of breeze and we were sailing downwind off the north-west corner of Australia, under our huge cuban-fibre gennaker, the G1. Suddenly, the halyard snapped about a foot below the top of the mast sending the sail tumbling over the side in the dark. Mohsin, Marc [Lagesse] and Sidney [Gavignet] were on watch at the time. Quick thinking by Mohsin, meant little damage was done as he turned the boat down, slowing us right down, and shouted for Paul to come up on deck. This was quickly followed by a call for ‘all hands on deck’. It took about twenty minutes to haul the sail back on board.”

Thankfully no lasting damage was done and two days later the cry of ‘Land Ahoy’ went out as Majan came within sight of Jawa and Sumatra: “We have sailed in open ocean most of the time since we left Oman so this feels a bit strange for us,” wrote Mohsin. “Now we are having to navigate round obstacles, instead of sailing for days on one heading. No more long and open ocean swells and weather systems. This is flat water, island-hopping, coastal racing!”


Close to land and getting ever closer to the Equator, the wind dissipated in the soaring temperatures but with the bad comes the good: “A multihull can handle very big waves but give Majan flat water and she purrs along like a happy cat stretched out in the sun.

So far, we have made better progress than expected. The forecast has been for very little wind by day and a touch more by night. We did have a hot and painful 4 hour stretch of under 3 knots – but last night we fed off the updraft of a large thunderstorm about 10 miles away. As the hot are was sucked up into the system, it drew air past us giving us a solid 15 knots for most of the night,” reported Ghailani.

Now the Majan crew can relax for a while ahead of their scheduled departure from Singapore on the 27th April on the final leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, homeward bound to Oman.

About Cape Piai:

Marking the southernmost point of mainland Asia, Tanjung Piai (or Cape Piai) is located in the Johor district of Malaysia, that opens on the eponymous Strait, and across which the Singapore skyline is visible. The Cape itself, set in the preserved environment of the Johor Regional Park, is surrounded by spectacular mangrove forests and has become a touristic destination. Piai is also the point at which the Johor Strait joins the famous Strait of Malacca, which has made the headlines over the past decade due to piracy. Coordinates: 1°15’ N – 103°30’ E.

 Article Photos Courtesy Mark Covell / Majan / Oman Sail

Marjan On Her Maiden Voyage (Photo by Mark Lloyd)

Marjan On Her Maiden Voyage (Photo by Mark Lloyd)

After a busy and very successful Australian stopover, Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ left the dock this morning, en route to Cape Leeuwin where she will embark on the penultimate leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course that the Majan crew are tracing out for the first time. As media crew Mark Covell reported by phone shortly after having hoisted the sails, “We are sailing in bright sunshine, on a very bumpy windward beat towards Cape Leeuwin, with Australia on our port side.” The Majan boys are in for a few rough hours before being able to head North with the wind gently pushing them!”

Mark Covell continues: “We left the dock waving goodbye to a large group of spectators who had turned out to send us on our way. Then we were followed out to our city start line by a couple of local boats. We are in about 15 knots of wind heading South. When we reach Cape Leeuwin, we will re-cross our finish line from Leg 3, and then pick up our Indian Oceans 5 Capes Race course, and turn and head northwards up towards Singapore. We should reach the line in the early hours of the morning, which is a shame as we wanted to see the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. It’s one of the three major Southern Ocean Capes, along side Cape Agulhas and Cape Horn.”

 The 15-day stopover has seen a lot of activity aboard Majan, with some technical refinements being implemented, but mostly an impressive array of guests, spectators and VIPs turning up to see the giant trimaran up-close and to learn more about the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race ahead of the first official race planned for 2012. On the public side, people were invited to view Majan at the Fremantle Sailing Club. Crew member Mohammed Al Ghailani was there: “By 4pm groups of individuals and families started arriving; it was beyond our expectations. Over 150 people came to see Majan and were shown onboard! The amazing turn out of individuals, families, teenagers, children and professional sailors actually made our day. Every one was impressed not only with Majan, but with our beautiful country and the vision and mission of Oman Sail as a project. It made me so proud being part of this race and representing my country. It has also confirmed to me that the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race is not just a race, it’s a unique race linking nations and humans from different races and cultures, making this world a better place.”

 Coming back to Fremantle after a well-deserved break in Oman with his family, Mark Covell consigned his impressions in his blog: “My first impressions are that the boat has been tweaked and perfected taking Majan even closer to race spec (…) The next few days it’s all about the media,” he added. Reporters and press from Fremantle’s broadcast and print media took up the opportunity to sail on the A100 including Channel 10 News, ABC Radio and the West Australian: “We have invited an eclectic mix of Australia’s travel, yachting and consumer media to sample the dynamic sailing experience of Majan. From two scheduled sails we ended up with 3! 18 guests experienced a sail on an A100!” Mona Tannous, Manager of Oman Tourism in Australia & New Zealand was one of the guests in Fremantle. “The first group of guests have just come off the boat, totally raving about the experience. I myself was dumbfounded yesterday when I finally saw her in ‘real life’ so to speak,” she said.

Next port of call… Singapore, where hopefully the giant trimaran and her crew will receive a welcome as warm as the one they just experienced in Australia!

Leg 4 preview – Cape Leeuwin / Cape Piai
Majan will have to re-cross the longitude of Cape Leeuwin in order to get the clock ticking on that fourth leg, since the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course is strictly a “cape to cape” affair! As Sidney Gavignet explains, “It will take us a good 10 hours to get there, with the wind on the nose. It will not be very fun, but it’s good to study the behaviour of the boat upwind. The following portion should be more pleasant, with downwind conditions for a few days. From Sunday night, the breeze seems to vanish. The end of the leg might be a bit on the quiet side.” Majan will head North, leaving Australia to starboard before taking the Sunda Strait, separating Java and Sumatra then crossing the Equator and finally arriving in Singapore. The initial ETA is between the 19th and the 21st of April…

The View from the top - Michael Giles at the top of the mast 35m up (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

The View from the top - Michael Giles at the top of the mast 35m up (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)


Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ arrived in Fremantle the 24th of March 2010 at 10:00 (Local Time – 2:00 am GMT), after having crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, the third cape of the Indian 5 Ocean Capes Race and the finish line of Leg 3 on Monday, 22nd of March at 04:10 GMT. It has been yet another eventful leg for the A100 trimaran and her crew as they trace out this new race course ahead of the official edition in 2012, and an Indian Ocean crossing that will leave its mark durably on the minds of the Oman Sail team members.

For most sailors, even the most seasoned ones, the odds of one day getting to the very top of the Beaufort scale are quite low. But “thanks” to the Indian Ocean’s wrath, Majan’s men have been through a hurricane on their way to Cape Leeuwin and as Mark Covell puts it, “The experience of 70+ knots is now something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.” It might be hard to figure out seen from dry land, but winds that strong and the resulting sea state definitely give the term of “survival” its legitimacy, both for men and machine. The A100, designed to withstand the fiercest conditions on all the world’s oceans, has proven its worth and the teams who have worked on her build and assembly, both at BoatSpeed Australia and at Oman Sail’s dedicated facility, should today feel very proud of the work carried out. Majan’s crew led by Paul Standbridge and including Sidney Gavignet who will go on to race in the solo Route du Rhum this November on ‘Majan’, relied on the boat to make it through the hurricane, and as they made it safely back ashore it is thanks to their outstanding seamanship, but also thanks to the inherent reliability and seaworthiness of the trimaran.

Extreme team-bonding
One can only imagine the unspoken anguish, the heavy silences, the anxious glances at the mast, the shrouds or the beams connecting floats and central hull – “Please don’t break!”, can we easily imagine the sailors silently addressing the boat whilst she was taking a major beating. In that kind of situation, each wave slamming on the structure and each gust taking the rigging to unprecedented stress levels is physically felt by the crew, with that horribly sinking feeling that yes, the breaking point is near – and if things break, there goes the solid ground under your feet. On a multihull, that feeling is amplified by the awareness that flipping over can be easily done without great seamanship… the boat heels at the top of 8 to 10-metre waves, and there’s no lead bulb to keep her upright. The magic of flying machines does have its drawbacks, and multis have, as Loïck Peyron once put it, that “strange tendency to be much more stable capsized than upright”. Quite a scary thought when you’re thousands of miles away from land.

The fury of the elements was bound to take its toll on the Omani crew – Mohsin Al Busaidi may be the first Arab to sail non-stop round the world but the most breeze he saw was 55 knots and for offshore ‘novice’ Mohammed Al Ghailani, he was certainly not lost for words when it was time to describe the experience: “I felt very scared at first. All the parts coming together were too much for me. The wind, the rain, the noise all built up, I didn’t like it. I sat in the cockpit with Mike and Paul. They made me feel much better because they were okay and not frightened. I was in all my wet whether gear and I still felt cold and wet. When I took it off later I was dry but the water in the air made me feel soaking wet and cold. I didn’t sleep at all on my off watch and that always makes things hard.”

11 days, 18 hours and 48 minutes after having crossed the starting line of Leg 3 in Cape Town, Majan cut through an imaginary line south of Cape Leeuwin, the southwestern tip of Australia. They had to cope – somewhat ironically – with a light patch on the final stretch towards Fremantle, just after turned the “left indicator” on. Fortunately the breeze picked up rapidly and by early afternoon (GMT) the crew was back at more than 16 knots, looking forward to a decent hot meal and a night in a comfortable bed, with its four fleet firmly planted on the floor!

Sidney Gavignet On Majan's Helm (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)

Sidney Gavignet On Majan's Helm (Photo by Mark Covell / Oman Sail)


About Fremantle

Located 12 miles southwest of Perth, at the entrance of the Swan River, Fremantle was established in 1829 and is renowned for its quality of life. With its active fishing port, the city offers a wide variety of restaurants and seafood cafés, and its cultural life also attracts a lot of visitors. Official stopover of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, Fremantle has a strong nautical tradition, having hosted the 1987 America’s Cup and will next year welcome the ISAF Sailing World Championships.