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

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

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Route du Rhum Ultime Class – provisional results

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

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

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

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

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

 

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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