Oman Air Musandam Lloyd Images

Oman Air Musandam Lloyd Images

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

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

Sidney Gavignet by Lloyd Images

Sidney Gavignet by Lloyd Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oman Air Lloyd Images

Oman Air Lloyd Images

Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014

MOD70 programme

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

M34 programme

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

Oman Sail MOD70 & M34 squad 2014

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

by gahinet

by gahinet

Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014

MOD70 programme

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

M34 programme

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

J80 programme

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

 


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

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

EFG Bank Champions, Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail Crew

EFG Bank Champions, Sidney Gavignet and Oman Sail Crew (Photo courtesy of Oman Sail)

A consistent performance throughout the 15 days of racing including a second place in today’s Leg 7, was enough for EFG Bank (Monaco) to be crowned overall winner of the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2014 – the region’s only long distance offshore sailing endurance race between Bahrain and Muscat.

The winner of Leg 7, after a really exciting close race to The Wave, Muscat, the Tour’s final destination, was Kay Heemskerk and his young team of students on Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft. This final impressive result confirms third place overall.

Forty-one-year-old Gavignet – Olympian and winning Volvo Ocean Race skipper – who put together a strong team for this event including leading French sailors Cedric Pouligny and Damien Iehl, plus two of Oman’s best sailors – Ali Al Balushi and Mohammed Al Mujaini – sailed impressively throughout the series using their vast amount of experience to help extend their early lead. They finished with a six point clear margin over Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team skippered by Marcel Herrera.

Chatting as he stepped ashore this afternoon, Gavignet commented: “It is a good job done. I am very happy for the crew and EFG, and for Monaco also because we were flying the Monaco Yacht Club colours. It is a great, great race with fantastic competition. Every leg we were fighting and we only ever won by a close margin.”

EFG Bank (Monaco) was under constant threat from the exceptionally strong youth contingent – the European Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, and today’s final race winner, Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft.

The young crew on Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team, whose average age is just 26, gave the EFG Bank (Monaco) team plenty to think about throughout the series. Although they only won one leg of the Tour and two Inport races, their consistency, with a string of second places, was what kept them in contention.

Twenty-one-year-old Marcel Herrera – Messe Frankfurt Sailing Team’s skipper – was thrilled to have finished second overall: “It is fantastic and a really great result for the team. We were always at the top with anything from a first to a third and had consistent results so I am really proud of the guys because second is fantastic for us.

“We will be back for sure and we’ll do everything we can to promote this Tour because it is a seriously

great event.”

Kay Heemskerk and team on Team Delft Challenge – TU Delft made a promising debut at last year’s event finishing fourth but proved that, by focusing on intense training in the lead up to this event, they were able to deliver the result they were looking for – a podium position.

Going into today’s race they had to beat American Katie Pettibone, skipper of Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat’s all women’s team to ensure their place on the podium. A final race win for the Dutch boys was more than enough.

Heemskerk said: “Winning today was one of the highlights of the event. We focused on the girls on the first beat and, once ahead, we were able to sail our own race and manage to keep ahead of EFG Bank.

“I feel amazingly happy to have won today, and to have achieved our goal of a position on the podium. I will be back next year because it is such a beautiful area to sail. I hope that more Europeans take time to consider racing this event because it is unique and highly competitive.”

At the closing ceremony and overall prizegiving held at the Oman Sail headquarters at The Wave, Muscat this afternoon, competitors and guests were honoured with the presence of His Excellency Sayyid Hamoud Bin Faisal Albusaidi – Minister of Interior.

David Graham, Oman Sail CEO said he was impressed by the standard of competition: “The fourth edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour has produced a stronger than ever level of competition. I am particularly pleased to see the healthy mix of youth, women, regional and professional sailors develop into a highly competitive, international fleet.

“The vision by Oman Sail to develop the region’s sailing talent and reignite the rich maritime heritage has become a reality. EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour has offered an unrivalled opportunity to showcase the region as an exceptional international race destination with its splendid sailing conditions, and fascinating mix of ancient traditions and modern sophistication. I believe this year’s event has really strengthened that image and has put the Middle East on the map as a prime international yachting location.”

George Catsiapis, managing director of EFG International in Monaco added: “I would like to congratulate all the teams for completing the 760-nautical mile race, and Sidney Gavignet and his team EFG Bank (Monaco) in particular, for their impressive performance, which resulted in an overall win. It has been great to see such a high level of racing in this year’s edition of EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.”

Ghasi Humaid AL Hashmi, Deputy Director General of Tourism Promotion, Oman Ministry of Tourism was also present and was keen to congratulate the sailing teams: “The Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) 2014 has definitely helped in promoting the rich Arab heritage, culture, and traditions of Oman. Sailing enthusiasts from around the world came and participated in this major sporting event that further bolstered the country’s tourism sector and highlighted its vast maritime potential. We would like to congratulate all winners and participants in this competition and we hope to see you all again next year. We would also like to commend our sailors who brought pride to our country by competing with other international teams. Lastly, we would like to thank the organizers who worked hard to ensure the success of SATT 2014.”