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.
End.

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.”

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)

 

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.

Majan Crew Sees Last Sunbeam Before Storm (Photo by Mark Covell on board Majan)

Majan Crew Sees Last Sunbeam Before Storm (Photo by Mark Covell on board Majan)

Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ has been battling hurricane force winds in the Southern Ocean on leg 3 of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race en route to the next stop over in Fremantle, Australia. The six-man crew led by Paul Standbridge including new recruit Sidney Gavignet and two Omani crew, who are tracing out this new course ahead of the official race in 2012, have had their mettle tested to the limit in these ferocious conditions. ‘Majan’ left Cape Town on 10th March and are approximately 2,300 miles into the 4,600-mile leg, with another 5-6 days before arriving in Fremantle. Read Mark Covell’s log below which expertly describes the force of the Southern Ocean in all its fury…

 

 

It’s been a long couple of days. As I woke the first day of this storm Paul, Mohammed and Mike were on watch. The sky was grey with driving rain that stung your face. The wind was around 45 knots touching 55 in the gusts. The noise resembled a badly tuned television, on full volume, hissing out white noise.

The waves were mostly broadside, hitting us on our starboard (right) hull and sending the sea water high in the sky, then cascading down over the boat. Occasionally, we would be lifted by the top of a wave and slammed by another, resulting in a sudden shunt sideways. It felt like King Neptune had cupped us in his hand, lobbed us in the air and whacked us out of court with his watery tennis racket.

Mohsin Although admittedly both nervous at times, (as I think we all were at times), Mohsin and Mohammed handled the conditions very well. Mohsin had seen 51 knots in the Cook Straits on his last voyage round the world, but had never experienced anything like yesterday before. He commented on how well Majan had handled the wind and the waves. “When I started to feel scared I just touched the boat with my hands and immediately felt better – as Majan felt so solid.”

If you weren’t holding on tight you were smack, bang on the floor, for sure. Most of the crew were tipped out of their bunks a few times. Eventually everyone gave up, and found some place on the cabin floor to sleep – wedged onto a beanbag or nestled between a bulkhead and the engine block. The tighter the space the less damage you did to yourself, in your sleep!

Meanwhile, the roaring wind had started to growl as we saw more and more gusts up in the 60-knot zone. The waves seemed to flatten and grow long silver manes of white spume that flowed out behind the wave face. In fact, all the waves were doing were ‘hunkering down’ and forming a more powerful and solid stance to shoulder us sideways – and more frequently.

The air was now constantly full of sharp, biting spray. Every one lung-full you took of breath, you spat out a two mouthfuls of brine. It was time to reduce sail and slow down some more. Down came the J3 beautifully flaking itself as it dropped. Next was to reef the mainsail down from the size of a squash court to the size of a table tennis table. Dropping the sails is a very noisy, wet exercise, exerting yet more shaking on the boat as even these much-reduced sized sails flap violently in the process.

hurricane So why were we getting a good ‘dressing down’ like this in this low pressure system? For the initial part of this leg we had not been able to find the strong winds that normally send you fast across the roaring 40s to Australia. So when we saw this low on the weather charts, we ducked back up to ride the low south and get under a big high pressure sitting in our way. We had to sail deep into the storm front to hook up with the ride.

It was like stepping out into a fast moving motorway, getting run down, then hitching a lift with the truck that ran you over. We then drove into the other side of the low, take the flick flack wind change, waves and wind going in different directions, and then drive south east, heading us towards Cape Leeuwin and Fremantle. It was a crazy ride, but it paid off well.

The gybe was interesting because the winds were up in the high 60’s and gusting to 70! We are all impressed with how Majan has performed.

There is a B&G (electronic navigational) display in the media station that read over 70 knots. We were happy that it was dark so I didn’t need to go out side and try to film the madness. So Mohammed suggested I just film the red B&G display instead, and keep with my lap belt firmly pulled tight to keep me off the ceiling!

70 Knots Over The Deck Of Majan (Photo by Mark Covell onboard Majan)

70 Knots Over The Deck Of Majan (Photo by Mark Covell onboard Majan)

The Nigel Irens Design Majan, Skippered by Paul Stanbridge Under Sail (Photo by)

The Nigel Irens Design Majan, Skippered by Paul Stanbridge Under Sail (Photo by)

On Saturday, 6th February, Oman Sail’s new A100 ‘Majan’ alongside their 75-ft multihull ‘Musandam’ will depart Muscat [Oman] to begin a new chapter in ocean racing as they embark on tracing out the route of the future Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race.
 

With a total distance of 16,300 nautical miles (30,200km) this new course will take the new 105-foot multihull via the Indian Ocean’s five great Capes: “Today the Atlantic is the playing field for the sailing world’s greatest oceanic races and all the round the world races start and finish in Europe. The new Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course is 100% Indian Ocean utilizing the boundaries of the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Central Asia,” said Mark Turner, CEO, OC Group, owners of OC Events (Asia). “Professional sailing races have quite naturally developed with an Atlantic flavour in line with the growth of the sport. The actual and potential of growth in the sport in the whole of Asia provides us and other events, such as the Volvo Ocean Race, with a great opportunity to develop new events like this in what are relatively unchartered waters. The launch of the new A100 class – the first being Oman Sail’s ‘Majan’ – presents us with an opportunity to develop this new race track that has both historical and sporting credibility for this class and other multihull classes, and equally commercial interest for sponsors and nations of future competing teams.”
The purpose of tracing out this new course is aimed at raising the profile of the event ahead of the first official edition planned for Spring 2012 with key stakeholder activity planned in the stopover ports of the Maldives, Cape Town, Fremantle and Singapore. ‘Majan’ with a crew of five, will depart Muscat on Saturday [6.2.10] sailing through the tropical waters of Oman past Ras al Hadd (literally ‘Cape’ in Arabic) with their bows pointing towards the Equator. After a stop in the Maldives ‘Majan’ will then head down to the tip of South Africa, crossing Cape Agulhas, and Cape Town. Racing across the frozen and treacherous Southern Ocean will be one of the most exhilarating legs of the course, before reaching the warmth of Cape Leeuwin and Australia’s west coast. From here the boats sail north to Cape Piai in the Malacca Straits close to Singapore and up to Cape Comorin at the southern tip of India before returning the welcoming shores of Oman and the starting point of the journey in Muscat.

‘Majan’ skippered by renowned sailor Paul Standbridge, and including Mohsin Al Busiadi who became the first Arab to sail round the world non-stop on board Oman Sail’s ‘Musandam’ last year, will face many different challenges en route.
‘Majan’, the ancient name of the Sultanate of Oman, is Oman Sail’s new flagship and the first of the new Nigel Irens designed Arabian 100 [A100] one design class: “The main objective behind the creation of this new class is not to take on the ‘classic’ European events but to help pave the way for a thriving professional racing scene in the Gulf region and around the Indian Ocean,” commented Oman Sail CEO, David Graham. “Majan was assembled locally in Salalah and although the crew are led by Paul and two other international sailors, Mohsin has become an accomplished offshore sailor and he will be joined by Mohammed Al Ghailani, as Oman Sail continues to grow and expand the skills of the Omani sailors. There is a great national pride in the project and already other GCC nations are interested in developing similar sailing programmes and we encourage that. Ultimately, if by 2016 we had six big race boats racing on this new Indian Ocean course under the colours of different Middle East and Asian nations, for me, that would be a great achievement.”

OC Events continue to develop the sailing arena of Arabia, Asia and the Indian Ocean. Building on the foundations of the Asian Record Circuit established in 2007, and the Extreme Sailing Series Asia which is being staged this winter in Hong Kong, Singapore and Muscat, OC Events Asia launched its vision for two new premier racing events – the ‘Tour of Arabia’ and the ‘Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race’ – in November 2009.

 

Majan On Her Maiden Voyage (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Oman Sail)

Majan On Her Maiden Voyage (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Oman Sail)

The Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race will pass the Capes of Ras Al Hadd (Oman), down to Cape of Good Hope (South Africa), across the frozen wastes of the Southern Ocean to Cape Leeuwin (SW Australia), past Cape Piai on the tip of the Malaysian peninsula (the southernmost point of mainland Asia, just to the west of Singapore), and back underneath Cape Comorin (southern tip of India) to Oman on the Arabian Peninsula. As the class of large ocean going trimarans like Majan (sistership to Thomas Coville’s Sodebo) grows, it is planned for this to develop as a recurring event on the ocean racing calendar.

The entire region is steeped in maritime heritage and legend, and is criss-crossed by a multitude of ancient and historically significant ocean trading routes. Professional and competitive sailing is only just awakening, but development of pro circuits will probably happen faster than the decades it has taken in Europe

Oman Sail’s new A100 Majan, designed by Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret, was built in Australia before being assembled locally in Salalah (Oman).

Internationally renowned sailor, Paul Standbridge, skipper’s Majan alongside Mohsin Al Busaidi who became the first Arab to ever sail non-stop around the world on board Majan’s stablemate, the 75-ft trimaran Musandam back in March this year, and have for company two professional crew and two Oman Sail trainees plus a media crewman, Mark Covell.

Mark Turner, CEO, OC Events: “The launch of the new A100 class with the first sea miles of Majan presents us with an opportunity to develop these two new fascinating racetracks. These courses have both historical and sporting credibility, and equally commercial interest for sponsors of future competing teams. Between the ‘Tour of Arabia’ and the ‘Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race’, we’re visiting 10 Key markets, passing through all the corners of the Indian Ocean via five great Capes, and linking the Middle East with Central Asia. Professional yacht racing might have developed with an Atlantic flavour, but the Arabian Gulf and Indian Ocean remain great unchartered territory for future sailing events.”