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

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

In breathtaking style the giant A100 Trimaran ‘Majan’ shot across the Cape Town start line of the third leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race just off Table Bay harbour’s breakwater at exactly midday (12:00 Local time) today to track a course down south to the treacherous seas of the Southern Ocean for her next stop in Fremantle, Australia.

 

Majan

With skipper Paul Standbridge, one of the world’s top sailors and the former manager of South Africa’s America’s Cup Team Shosholoza, at the helm, and the start perfectly timed to coincide with the daily firing of the noon day gun from Cape Town’s landmark Signal Hill, the magnificent speed machine, which has utterly captivated Capetonians during her brief stay in the city, quickly built pace of over 23 knots in a brisk 14 knot south westerly breeze and dark rain threatening skies.

On the crew is world famous French round the world sailor Sidney Gavignet,crack French America’s Cup sailor Thierry Douillard, former Team Shosholoza sailor Michael Giles from Port Elizabeth, Omani sailor Mohsin Al Busaidi who became the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world last year, Mohammed Al Ghailani a young Omani trainee sailorand Olympic sailor Mark Covell who is the media crew on board.

Earlier the crew of Majan were given a rousing dockside farewell from family, newly made local friends and young sailors from the Izivunguvungu Foundation for Youth in Simonstown who were thrilled to tour the yacht and meet the crew just minutes before they cast off.

Cape Town is a designated as the first stopover for the race which is planned in 2012. Conceived by OC Events and campaigned by Oman Sail, the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race will be the first ever yacht race to link the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia and the first ever race of its kind in the Indian Ocean.

It will feature “city start lines” in Muscat, Cape Town, Fremantle (Australia) and Singapore and five “Cape” finish lines – Cape Ras Al Hadd off Oman, Cape Agulhas, the most southerly point of Africa, Cape Leeuwin on South West Australia, Cape Piai, the southernmost point of Mainland Asia, just west of Singapore and Cape Comorin on the southern tip of India. This next leg to Fremantle which will involve racing across the frozen and treacherous Southern Ocean will be one of the most exhilarating and dangerous of the course, before reaching the warmth of Cape Leeuwin and Australia’s west coast.

Majan

For sailors, the Southern Ocean is the vague term for the Southern Seas and the underworld where no land separates the oceans.

Below 40 degrees of latitude, a series of low pressure systems continuously ‘roar’ and move towards the east without being blocked by any land mass. Down there, the crew of Majan will find themselves in the Grey World – one of the most remote and dangerous parts of the planet.

Flag

Writing on his blog while at sea soon after the start Mohsin Al Busaidi said: “As we waved goodbye to the new friends we made in Cape Town, it was time to mentally prepare ourselves for the toughest leg yet to Fremantle, Australia. It’s an overcast, warm day. The wind is light, around 8 knots. We’re heading south out of Table Bay. The mood onboard is a mixture of excitement to be back on Majan and anticipation about entering the Southern Ocean – we have a great team and a great boat, it’s going to be an amazing adventure.”

The A100 trimaran ‘Majan’left Muscat, Oman, last month on 6th February and stopped briefly in the Maldives while en route to Cape Town to traces out this new course via 5 great Capes. She crossed the proposed new race finish line at Cape Agulhas – the second cape on the course – at 16:02:57 GMT, 13 days, 6 hours and 57 seconds after leaving the Maldives.

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.