Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record for the fastest-ever sail round Ireland when the team crossed the finish line at Wicklow in 38 hours, 37 minutes and 7 seconds. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with team mates Damian Foxall (IRL) and Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jean Luc Nelias (FRA), Yasir Al Rahbi (OMA) and Sami Al Sukaili (OMA) Credit : Lloyd Images

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record for the fastest-ever sail round Ireland when the team crossed the finish line at Wicklow in 38 hours, 37 minutes and 7 seconds. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with team mates Damian Foxall (IRL) and Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jean Luc Nelias (FRA), Yasir Al Rahbi (OMA) and Sami Al Sukaili (OMA)
Credit : Lloyd Images

Musandam-Oman Sail set a new world record for sailing around Ireland* and posted a sensational victory in the 2016 Volvo Round Ireland Race after a cliff-hanger finish with just minutes separating the three giant trimarans on the line.

Arriving back in Wicklow Bay, after a thrilling contest with the other MOD70s, Phaedo and Concise, for most of the 700 nautical mile course, Sidney Gavignet’s crew were exhausted but exhilarated by their victory and the new record, which they had set themselves last year beating Steve Fossett’s longstanding Lakota record from 1993.

They crossed the finish line at 03:47 local time as dawn was breaking after setting a new time of 38 hours 37 minutes and 7 seconds, which was more than two hours faster than their previous time of 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds set last year.

Racing with just six crew, including Oman’s three leading offshore sailors Fahad Al Hasni, Yasir Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili, Musandam-Oman Sail claimed line honours while Phaedo 3 were hot on their heels and arrived six minutes later with the third MOD70, Concise 10 trailing by a single minute.

Musandam-Oman Sail 2016 (Photo by Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail 2016
(Photo by Lloyd Images)

The final few moments turned their race upside down, said Gavignet, since for most of the time, they had been chasing the other boats until an opportunity came up to take the lead less than a mile from the end.

“It feels fantastic because at times we were slower than the other boats and I was thinking we might finish last and lose our record but a few minutes before the finish we had a bit of luck and were close enough to the others to take advantage.

“The guys showed real commitment – we had no watch system so didn’t sleep much and didn’t use the bunks to keep more weight at the back so they were sleeping on the floor and on wet sail bags. They have been grinding a lot and worked really hard so they are exhausted but happy.”

It had been without question the most demanding race he had ever done, added Irishman Damian Foxall as he stepped off the boat, but coming out on top represented a new high in his long career.

“I have done a few round the world races but this was up there as one of the best,” he said.

“Racing with six meant one or two less than the other boats so we only had one hours sleep each at the most but being so close to the other boats was so motivating and intense.

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016.  Credit : Lloyd Images

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016.
Credit : Lloyd Images

“We knew at times we were off the pace but we kept pushing hard and found opportunities to come back into the race. There was a reasonable chance we were going to lose our record so Sidney was fairly tight-lipped coming down the east coast but it is very satisfying to win AND set a new record because this race is not for the faint hearted.”

Al Hasni, who shared helming duties with Gavignet and Foxall agreed it had been tiring but rewarding.

“We are really happy with this result; it makes me very proud to raise the Omani flag in Ireland for the second time with this world record – we dedicate our win to the Sultanate of Oman.

“In the last few miles, we were aware that there were potential passing lanes near the coast so we moved into position which worked and we were able to gain the advantage when it mattered most.

“It was really hard and we thought we had missed our opportunity but those last few minutes turned it round so we are very happy.”

David Graham, Oman Sail CEO, was delighted with the team’s performance: “This was one of the most difficult challenges that the guys on Musandam-Oman Sail have faced, I could hear the smile on Fahad’s face when he answered the satellite phone when I called them as they crossed the finish line to congratulate the team on both the victory and the record.

“We are especially pleased that Fahad, Yasir and Sami are an integral part of the race crew for a second Round Ireland Record – the team has been working hard and it is great to see their efforts pay off. This experience and success is key to their pathway. They had world class mentors on board with Sidney, Damian and Jean Luc [Nelias] and it all worked to deliver our desired result.”

The crew will return to training immediately after food and sleep in preparation for the delivery to Quebec, Canada, where they will set off on the Transat Quebec – St Malo Race across the Atlantic on July 10, returning to Europe for an action-packed summer season of events.

*pending ratification by World Sailing Speed Record Council

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record Credit : Lloyd Images

Dublin. Ireland. 20th June 2016. The Volvo Round Ireland Race . Musandam-Oman Sail set a new record
Credit : Lloyd Images

 

Musandam-Oman Sail Picture of Oman Sail - Musandam takes line honours at the 2015 Artemis Challenge (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail Picture of Oman Sail – Musandam takes line honours at the 2015 Artemis Challenge (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail’s crew on flagship MOD70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail return to the race track on Saturday with their first big race of the season, the 2016 Myth of Malham off the south coast of England.

This English classic, run by the Royal Ocean Racing Club, is a weekend race starting at the Royal Yacht Squadron in Cowes with the top mark set at the Eddystone Lighthouse, some 12 miles south-west of Plymouth and the finish back in the Solent.

At 256 nautical miles, it may be a relatively short course but it will test the team, since the Solent and Channel are amongst the busiest shipping channels in the world and a hub of recreational boating and sailing in Britain with thousands of boats taking to the waters on a nice sunny day.

Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

For the Musandam-Oman Sail crew which features Omani professionals Fahad Al Hasni, Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi, plus skipper Sidney Gavignet, Damian Foxall and navigator Jean Luc Nelias, the race marks the transition from training to performance.

“All our preparations here this week have been about working efficiently round the clock, morning and evening, on the dock as well,” said Sidney Gavignet.

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

“We want everyone to perform. On our delivery runs, we have spent a lot of time teaching and experimenting but during the race, there will be no time for any of that. It will be time to perform and that requires a completely different state of mind.”

“It will be good preparation for the Round Ireland race next month.”

Musandam-Oman Sail, an ultra-fast trimaran, will be one of around 40 boats competing in the Myth of Malham but there is only one other contender in the fleet that Gavignet’s team want to beat and that is Team Concise, a rival British-owned MOD70 that recently set a new record in the Round Barbados Race.

“They have done a lot of racing in the Caribbean this year so it will be a very good contest but we have a good crew, and with some intensive training under our belt, we will be trying our best for a win,” added Gavignet.

Known as the mini-Fastnet, since it follows the same course through the Solent down to the 49-metre high Eddystone Lighthouse – which is mentioned in Herman Melville’s epic novel Moby-Dick – the Myth of Malham was named after the yacht of the same name, a 37’6″ sloop built in 1947 that went on to win the Fastnet race that year, and again two years later.

The Myth of Malham race starts on the morning of Saturday May 28 when the fleet will head west out of the Solent en route to the Eddystone Lighthouse before an exhilarating downwind ride back to the Solent under spinnaker.

“We can’t wait to get racing again and are looking forward to getting some speed up on Musandam-Oman Sail,” said Fahad Al Hasni, who is likely to be given helming duties.

“This is the first race of the season and we are keen to make an early impression. She’s a fast boat and because we have a few records under our belt, we know we can get the best out of her but we also know we will have to be at the top of our game to win.”

MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail Programme

Myth of Malham: Starts Cowes, Isle of Wight – Saturday 28 May
Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race: Starts Wicklow, Ireland – Saturday 18 June
Quebec – St Malo: Starts Quebec, Canada – Saturday 10 July

Trimaran MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Trimaran MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail (Photo © Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

The Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland, race start.Cowes. Isle of Wight. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

The Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland, race start. Cowes. Isle of Wight. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images)

Musandam-Oman Sail, the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship trimaran, will join a small fleet of MOD70s at the start of the Royal Ocean Racing Club’s classic Round Ireland Race on 18 June to kick off the European season.

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper Oman Sail Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Sidney Gavignet, Skipper Oman Sail Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

French skipper Sidney Gavignet’s crew of Omani sailors and Irishman Damian Foxall are no strangers to the 700 mile Round Ireland race track having famously smashed the record in 2015 after completing the course in 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, some four hours faster than anything achieved previously.

Fahad Al Hasni, Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili were all on board for the record-breaking voyage and all return to action for the Round Ireland Race.

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

The team has developed a strong bond, says Gavignet so the prospect of lining up against other professional MOD70 crews in June for the start in Wicklow, to follow a course that leaves Ireland and all its islands excluding Rockall to starboard, serves to stir their competitive spirits.

“This Omani crew has a long history – last season especially was very demanding – so we have a very good team with a great team spirit,” said skipper Gavignet.

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

“We would like to win the race but know it will not be easy because the other MOD70s have been sailing a lot in the past few months. We have trained hard and the guys are performing at a different level now so we are very happy to go and do our best against the others.

“We hold the record but it is possible to do better and it is likely that whoever wins will set a new record, depending on the conditions. It is very exciting to be racing against Phaedo and Concise – it will be a good contest.”

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Preparations for the race have included some intensive training offshore as well as participation in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez, France, last weekend where the Omani Diam 24 team onboard Oman Airports by Oman Sail finished in 3rd place.

This weekend MOD70 sailors Fahad, Sami and Yasser are due to compete on Oman Sail’s J80 at the Grand Prix Ecole Navale at the French Naval Academy in Lanvéoc to get some crucial fleet race practice.

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Success in sailing against the clock for a speed record requires a different mindset to racing in a fleet, said Fahad, Oman’s most experienced and successful offshore sailor.

“Competing with other boats in the Round Ireland race will be different to breaking the record and probably a lot more difficult,” he said.

“The other MOD70s have been training and racing all year and have achieved some good results so they will be hard to beat. But we will be sailing the boat as fast as we can and if we can win, it will be fantastic for us because this is a two thirds Omani crew.”

Records are one thing but when you get two boats racing side by side, the results speak for themselves, commented Damian Foxall, acknowledged as Ireland’s most accomplished ocean sailor.

Damian Foxall ,Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

Damian Foxall ,Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

“This season, our campaigns are all about fleet racing. When you are racing against the clock, you never know if you are performing 100% but in fleet racing, if you are not going 100%, you probably aren’t winning. And you know pretty quickly whether you have taken a good or bad option.

“Fleet racing is more like a game of chess and what the other boats do on the course can affect your own tactics. So you have to be on your game 100% all the time and sail a lot harder. Our guys understand that completely.”

A couple of years ago, Musandam-Oman Sail would have been favourite to win the multihull class, Foxall continued but an upsurge in activity on the other MOD70s means they have a contest on their hands.

“The guys on Phaedo and Concise are sailing extremely well now so a couple of years ago, we might have been favourites but that is certainly no longer the case and we are going to have to compete really hard to get a result this year. But we know how to sail the boat so this is great and exactly how it should be.”

m12436_crop11013_400x400_proportional_14078516906B4B

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

 

To stay up to date: www.omansail.com

For more information on the race, please go to: http://roundireland.ie/wp/

 

Oman Sail Crew Mark Lloyd

Oman Sail Crew on Musandam (Photo © Mark Lloyd/ Lloyd Images)

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial - official to follow) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial – official to follow)
Credit – Lloyd Images

The Ministry of Tourism of Oman’s flagship MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail made history for the Sultanate this morning when it broke the 22-year-old Round Ireland record after completing the 700 mile course in a remarkable 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, slashing almost four hours off the existing record.

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial - official to follow) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial – official to follow)
Credit – Lloyd Images

They needed to be back by 1500 to take the record but their breakneck speeds down the west coast of Ireland, at one stage reaching 38 knots, meant they were finished well before that, some three hours and 50 minutes faster than the 44 hours and 42 minutes set by Steve Fossett in his first ever world record back in September 1993 aboard his 60ft trimaran Lakota.

Helmsman Fahad Al Hasni said this record attempt coming at the end of a European winter, had proved tough.

m12435_crop11014_1000x1000_proportional_14078516774540

“It was both scary and exciting because we saw 40 knots of wind and massive waves that we reckoned were around six metres but the main challenge was the cold,” said Al Hasni.

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial - official to follow) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial – official to follow)
Credit – Lloyd Images

“It is still winter here and my hands were so cold I still can’t feel them but I’m really happy because there have been some very famous sailors who have made attempts on this record but we are the ones who now hold it. We have become a really good, tough team and it feels great to be part of it.”

It had been a challenging but amazing experience for the Omani sailors, added Gavignet, who was full of praise for his crew.

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial - official to follow) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial – official to follow)
Credit – Lloyd Images

“This was a real test for them and they came through with flying colours – the whole crew put in a great effort.

“We had to be very careful in these conditions and had no choice but to slow down at times but to have achieved the record so early in our season is a great feeling. It had been a priority and now it is done.”

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial - official to follow) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial – official to follow)
Credit – Lloyd Images

This was Musandam-Oman Sail’s second attempt on the Round Ireland record. Two years ago they set off from Dublin Bay with high hopes but were forced to abandon due to unsafe conditions.

Today was a different story and everyone on board was delighted to add this one to their burgeoning collection.

“This is a great accomplishment for Oman and Oman Sail,” said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail.

“Attempting to break the Round Ireland record has been our goal for many years now and achieving the feat is a shining example of the hard work and dedication of our sailing squad.”

“Racing against yourself to set a time is the hardest test of discipline. The team must remain focused and motivated at all times, and we have instilled these values since the start of the Oman Sail programme.

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial - official to follow) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial – official to follow)
Credit – Lloyd Images

“With a 50% Omani crew, this record shows that the present and the future of sailing in Oman is on the right course.”

*** Times subject to World Record Sailing Speed Council ratification

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial - official to follow) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam -Oman Sail trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as the team cross the line and set a new world record for sailing round Ireland in 40h51m57s (unofficial – official to follow)
Credit – Lloyd Images

 

The Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland, race start.Cowes. Isle of Wight. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) Please (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

The Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland, race start.Cowes. Isle of Wight. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) Please (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Oman Sail’s record-chasers on the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail began their 2015 summer season yesterday late afternoon when they set off from Dun Laoghaire in Ireland for an attempt on the Round Ireland record.

French skipper Sidney Gavignet was reunited with his three Omani crew Fahad Al Hasni, Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili who were key members of his triumphant team when Musandam-Oman Sail smashed the Round Britain and Ireland world record last August.

. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd /  Lloyd Images)

. Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skipper . Oman Sail MOD70 trimaran skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Also on board was Spanish sailor Alex Pella and the French multihull veteran Jean Baptiste Levaillant who have joined the Omani trimaran for the attempt to beat the long standing Round Ireland record of 44 hours set back in September 1993 by Steve Fossett’s 60ft trimaran Lakota.

“The goal is to give my Omani crewmates some real life training in a range of conditions and we are taking advantage of an ideal weather window,” explained Gavignet who was last on the boat when he raced it single-handed across the Atlantic in the Route du Rhum in November 2014.

The forecast before they threw the lines at 17:04 UTC on Monday was for light conditions that were scheduled to build significantly overnight. Before casting off, Sidney warned that they would be playing it safe: “We will be watching the weather carefully and avoiding risks.”

Musandam-Oman Sail made an attempt on the Round Ireland record two years ago but were forced to abandon due to unsafe conditions but hopes are high that this time, the weather will be kinder and allow Oman Sail to add this speed record to their growing collection.

 

Fahad Al Hasni (Photo by  Lloyd Images)

Fahad Al Hasni (Photo by Lloyd Images)

“The current record is held by great sailors, so it would be a huge source of pride for us to break it and add such an achievement to our experience as sailors. We are expecting a lot of challenges and very low temperatures to the north, but we are prepared and hope to return with another record for Oman,” said Fahad Al Hasni.

“We are focusing this season on the sailor’s strength and fitness, but also on preparing the boat and studying the weather to make them better all round offshore sailors. There won’t be many record attempts on our schedule in 2015, but this one is a primary goal and if we can get the record, it would be very good for the guys, for the country and for Oman Sail,” added Gavignet.

 

Since the boat was launched following a routine refit, Gavignet has been training with his crew in Lorient and taking part in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez in Brittany, France, where they flew the Omani flag in Europe for the first time this year and got back into competitive racing mode after a winter sailing with other crew in other boats.

At the time of writing, the boat has rounded the top of Ireland and is doing around 20 knots. The ETA is scheduled for Wednesday morning.

 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!”

m13356_crop11014_1000x1000_proportional_14157047385E74

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.

Musandam-Oman Sail Crew by Mark Lloyd

The Sevenstar Round Britain Race 2014. Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 Trimaran sets a new world record and finishes the race in 3days 3hours 32minutes 36 seconds. Beating the current record by 16 minutes. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and team mates Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA), Sami Al Shukaili (OMA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jan Dekker (SA), and co-skipper Damian Foxall (IRL) Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images )

Musandam-Oman Sail on top of the world after breaking Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Record by 16 minutes

Musandam-Oman Sail have set a new world record for sailing round Britain and Ireland after shaving 16 minutes off the current record and taking line honours in the 2014 Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race after a nail-biting end to a remarkable three days.

An exhausted but jubilant Sidney Gavignet and his crew of Damian Foxall, Fahad Al Hasni, Sami Al Shukaili, Yassir Al Rahbi and Jan Dekker crossed the Cowes finish line at 12.42.36 BST on Thursday 14th August 2014.

Their time for the 1956 nms course was 3 days 03 hours 32 minutes and 36 seconds which was just 16m 38s faster than the previous World Record set by Banque Populaire 5 in 2011. They averaged an incredible 23.8 knots all the way round the course and had no idea until they crossed the finish line that they had taken the record.

“We didn’t realise we had broken the record until we crossed the finish line,” said Gavignet.

“We got to St Catherine’s two hours before doing 30 knots but suddenly there was a cloud and no wind so we thought our chances had gone. But we kept working and working and finally we made it 16 minutes before the time limit.”

There was plenty of luck involved, he added.

“The weather was exceptional…I doubt you could find better for the Round Britain and Ireland Race except for two little clouds at the finish. We went round Great Britain and the islands without a tack, only gybes. No tack, zero tacks. That is rare possibly unique.

 The Sevenstar Round Britain Race 2014. Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 Trimaran sets a new world record and finishes the race in 3days 3hours 32minutes 36 seconds. Beating the current record by 16 minutes. Skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA)  Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images

The Sevenstar Round Britain Race 2014. Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 Trimaran sets a new world record and finishes the race in 3days 3hours 32minutes 36 seconds. Beating the current record by 16 minutes. Skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images

“It’s amazing to beat Loick Peyron and his boys on Banque Populaire 5 which is almost two times bigger than us. I kept saying there is no way we can beat that boat so it is a surprise. I’m a happy skipper.”

Musandam-Oman Sail also knocked a massive 2 days 17 hours and 52 minutes off the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race Record of 5 days 21 hours 26 minutes 55 seconds set by Franck Cammas’ monohull Groupama in 2010.

For the first time, Musandam-Oman Sail was racing with three Omani sailors in a total crew of six, with Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi joining Oman Sail’s flagship boat just one month prior to the race.

“It was my dream to race on the MOD70 when I joined Oman Sail,” enthused Al Shukaili.

“I pushed myself hard to lose weight and to sail hard every day to get into shape for the MOD70 and Fahad gave me a big push to sail with him. I knew there was a time to beat to break the record but at the finish I wasn’t sure if we had done it. But I saw everyone was happy so I was happy with them.”

Gavignet paid tribute to his Omani crewmembers, especially his two new recruits.

Musandam Crew  (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

Musandam Crew (Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images)

“They were not seasick, which is impressive and did not get tired and had a fantastic attitude. They picked up a lot of things on this trip and gained valuable experience. We have found two new Omani sailors which is great for us, great for them and great for Oman Sail.”

Fahad Al Hasni has been with Musandam-Oman Sail from the day it was launched in 2012 and has many thousands of trimaran racing miles under his belt but this world record represented a special moment in his career, he said.

“It was good fun and it is great to come back with the record and to have the boat in one piece. Everyone is good and we are happy to have a crew that is half Omani for the first time and feel it is a really big thing to have done.”

Ireland’s foremost offshore sailor Damian Foxall has raced around the world seven times yet he too said this world record was one of his finest achievements.

“I would put this record up at the top of my list of achievements – the enormity hasn’t really sunk in yet!” he said.

“Just to put things into context, two of our Omani crewmates had only stepped on to the MOD70 at the beginning of the season and they have made huge progress.

“The fact that we were able to push that hard around the course is a reflection of the crew’s ability and bodes well for the future of Oman Sail – we are on the right track.”

The stars of the show, according to Jan Dekker, one of the most experienced offshore sailors in the world but racing a MOD70 for the first time, were the ‘amazing’ boat and crew.

“Amazing conditions but mostly an amazing boat,” he said.

The Sevenstar Round Britain Race 2014. Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 Trimaran sets a new world record and finishes the race in 3days 3hours 32minutes 36 seconds. Beating the current record by 16 minutes. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and team mates Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA), Sami Al Shukaili (OMA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jan Dekker (SA), and co-skipper Damian Foxall (IRL) Credit - Lloyd Images

The Sevenstar Round Britain Race 2014. Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 Trimaran sets a new world record and finishes the race in 3days 3hours 32minutes 36 seconds. Beating the current record by 16 minutes. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and team mates Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA), Sami Al Shukaili (OMA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jan Dekker (SA), and co-skipper Damian Foxall (IRL) Credit – Lloyd Images

 

“Doing 30-35 knots all the time. It was quite brutal – I have sailed ORMA 60s a fair bit but this was full on. The only thing you can do down below is to hang on. The three Omanis were great – some more experienced than others but all totally at home on the boat.”

Tributes started pouring in as soon as Musandam-Oman Sail’s success was confirmed.

“This record is a testament to hard work all round,” said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail. “Sidney and Damian have dedicated much of their time training our Omani sailing squad in all aspects of offshore sailing.

“Our Omani sailors have soaked that up over the last couple of seasons and worked hard in self-improvement. The world record beating crew was 50% Omani Nationals and this is a real achievement. We are a step nearer our goal and I am delighted for all the sailors.”

Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA), Sami Al Shukaili (OMA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA) Credit - Lloyd Images

Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA), Sami Al Shukaili (OMA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA) Credit – Lloyd Images

When the celebrations have died down and the crew taken a well-earned rest, Gavignet will be on the move again, fitting his ‘solo’ kit to the MOD70 and kicking off his preparations for the single-handed Route du Rhum in November.

“We will have a little rest and a chat then head back to Lorient with our solo kit – our first single handed experience on this boat. I’m not sure what it will be like sailing solo on this boat. I think it will be tough so I will need plenty of luck. It is easy to capsize these boats so it will be about staying upright.

“This is a great way to finish our crewed season – a real high point, before going into the next phase towards the Route du Rhum.

“I think Musandam-Oman Sail and I can go quite fast together. I know the challenge is massive but it is a gift for me and I will go step by step.”

The record is yet to be ratified by the WSSR Council.

Musandam Round Britain and Ireland

The Sevenstar Round Britain Race 2014. Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 Trimaran sets a new world record and finishes the race in 3days 3hours 32minutes 36 seconds. Beating the current record by 16 minutes. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and team mates Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA), Sami Al Shukaili (OMA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Jan Dekker (SA), and co-skipper Damian Foxall (IRL) Credit – Lloyd Images