Groupe Edmond De Rothschild (Photo by Roberto Foresti/ Canon/ OC Events)

Groupe Edmond De Rothschild (Photo by Roberto Foresti/ Canon/ OC Events)

In 30 degrees and 8-10 knots of the breeze the Sicilian town of Trapani provided a stunning backdrop for the opening day of racing on the penultimate stopover in the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010.
 
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, skippered by Yann Guichard, fresh from their win in Kiel just three weeks ago, came out of the starting blocks with a bang, taking the first three bullets of the day, but The Wave, Muscat, is hot on the Frenchman’s heels, just one point behind after six races.

Seven teams are here in the Medieval town of Trapani, the fleet augmented by a local ‘wildcard’ entry from America’s Cup Strategist, Gabriele Bruni, with his team Trapani, the Sailing Seacily. “It was really great! We had three good races, then in the last three we finished last, but that’s part of the game. The most important thing is that we enjoyed ourselves on the water. The other teams are very well prepared, sometimes we were playing with them, but obviously generally a bit behind. It’s also fantastic to sail in Trapani, in front of the islands, with good breeze.”

Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team, has seen some stunning performances over the past four months of racing and once again looks to be in a good position to challenge for the podium, but is threatened by the fastest man around the planet, Franck Cammas, just one point behind.

With six races completed on day one, there were four boats taking the top spot, Groupe Edmond de Rothschild with three wins, but Groupama 40, Red Bull Extreme Sailing each taking a win and The Wave, Muscat finishing the day with a first.

Extreme Sailing Series (Photo by Roberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events)

Extreme Sailing Series (Photo by Roberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events)

The Extreme Sailing Series™ Trapani continues tomorrow, Friday 24 September, with the seven teams racing right inside the harbour, in front of the public and VIP spectators, from 2pm. Our weather partner WetterWelt expects 11 to 14 knots of breeze, with potential gusts up to 20 – which given the tight situation on the leaderboard will undoubtedly make for hotly contested races. 
 

Trampani (Photo by Toberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events )

Trampani (Photo by Toberto Foresti / Canon / OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series Fleet  (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

The beautiful, medieval port of Trapani, on the western coast of Sicily, will play host to the penultimate round of the Extreme Sailing Series™ 2010 in just a few days time. Seven teams will line up on 23 September including local hero Gabriele Bruni with his ‘wildcard’ entry Trapani the Sailing Seacily.

“So far we have raced on the coastal waters of Sète, with its Mistral winds, then Cowes on the Isle of Wight, which challenged the crews with its complex, tidal conditions. At the end of August, Kiel in Germany gave the teams their tightest racecourses where over 60,000 people turned out in the pouring rain – their loyalty was rewarded with some thrilling, close quarter combat,” commented Event Director, Gilles Chiorri.

“And now Trapani, where the courses on the three public-facing race days will see the state of the art catamarans put through their paces inside the narrow confines of the medieval harbour. Not only will it be a spectacle, it will challenge the very best skippers and sailors we have on the circuit.”

French rising star, Yann Guichard, skipper of Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, currently leads the overall Extreme Sailing Series™ leaderboard, having battled his way to the top demonstrating his picture-perfect starts and his team’s impressive boat-handling skills latterly at the last event in Kiel. Guichard, on 22 points, leads by just 2 points ahead of the youngest skipper in the fleet at just 28, Paul Campbell-James and The Wave, Muscat. The all-British Ecover Sailing Team team led by, Vendée Globe star Mike Golding, is in third place one point behind Campbell-James.

Trapani, Sicily

Trapani, Sicily

Gilles Chiorri concluded, “It’s very tight at the top of the leaderboard, with just three points separating the top three boats, it’s all to play for. There isn’t one clear winner in the fleet by far, anything can happen, and the overall 2010 champion will not be decided until the final event in Andalucia.”

The first day of racing on 23 September will see the fleet head out of the harbour for some longer, classic windward/leeward courses before finishing inside the harbour ahead of the official opening ceremony in the evening.

The in-harbour, stadium-style racing in front of the public will start on the afternoon of Friday 24 September for the seven top professional teams. With 48 World Championship titles, 21 Olympics attended, 14 round the World navigations and 19 sailing records amongst them, the pressure is on amongst the teams to prove their mettle.

Mr Mimmo Turano President of the Province of Trapani said, ‘We are very pleased to have concluded this agreement for many years with a major corporation that brings another important event in Trapani for professional sailing teams.
“We are really satisfied for us to see some of the sailors, who have already competed in Trapani in the America’s Cup in 2005, gladly return to the province of Trapani as evidence of good memories that they’ll bring to the event,” he concluded.

Local Sicilian sailing hero and Olympian Gabriele Bruni will skipper the ‘home’ team, Trapani the Sailing Seacily. Bruni, who represented Italy at the Sydney Olympics in the 49er class and along with his brother, Francesco, races with the Italian America’s Cup team Azzurra, will be joined by his fellow Hobie Tiger World Champion Alberto Sonino on the helm, European Lightening and Optimist Champion Mario Noto on the bow and Giuseppe Leonardi will be the Trimmer.

“I’m really happy to be involved in this international event held in the Trapani waters. The best sailors of the world will line-up and I’m sure we’ll enjoy a lot,” commented Bruni. “Our professional crew is proud to race the Extreme Sailing Series onboard Trapani the Sailing Seacily. In the last years we spent a lot of our time racing the monohulls so it is pretty exciting to come back, especially with my old mate Alberto Sonino, to the unique emotions that only the multihulls can provide.”

Trapani is the most Western port town on the Italian island of Sicily. Twinned with the famous French sailing port of Les Sables-d’Olonne, its crystal clear waters provide beautiful sailing and cruising conditions for thousands of sailors every year and its wind conditions are famed for delivering a consistent breeze throughout the year for both cruisers and racers alike. A rich trading centre throughout the early Middle Age, and a halfway point for Tunisia and Africa, Trápani is enjoying a renewed revitalization thanks to the huge salt pans to the south of town.

Gabriele Olivo, trimmer onboard Red Bull Extreme Sailing, was the lone Italian sailor in the circuit up until now. “I’m really looking forward to sailing in Italy and especially in Sicily. Trapani has been proved in the past to be one of the best places in the world for sailing. The crowds will love the event and I’m sure it will prove to be a really popular event and it will be a fantastic week.

“I’m very happy that I won’t be the only Italian in the circuit, like in the other venues, because we are joined by a local boat skippered by Gabriele Bruni. I hope this will help to inspire the Italian sailors to these incredible and extreme races.”

Teams/Skippers entered into the Extreme Sailing Series™ Trapani:

Ecover Sailing Team (GBR) – Mike Golding (GBR)
Groupama 40 (FRA) – Franck Cammas (FRA)
Groupe Edmond de Rothschild (FRA) – Yann Guichard (FRA)
Oman Sail Masirah (OMA) – Loick Peyron (FRA)
Red Bull Extreme Sailing (AUT) – Roman Hagara (AUT)
The Wave, Muscat (OMA) – Paul Campbell-James (GBR)
Trapani the Sailing Seacily (ITA) – Gabriele Bruni (ITA)

Red Bull Sailing Team ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Red Bull Sailing Team ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Paul Campbell-James and Muscat Crew Wins Extreme 40 Cowes (Photo by Mark LLoyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events)

Paul Campbell-James and The Wave, Muscat Crew Wins Extreme 40 Cowes (Photo by Mark LLoyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events)

Paul Campbell-James on The Wave, Muscat has won the UK Round of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week – the first ever regatta win for the youngest skipper on the circuit – claiming an OMEGA Seamaster Planet Ocean watch as part of the prize as top Skipper for the UK round.  Thirty-six races over six days in front of 60,000+ spectators – the UK round of the five-stop circuit has delivered everything that the Extreme Sailing Series is about. Spectacular, adrenalin-pumping action on the water, enthralling the thousands of spectators who packed into the Extreme Race Village at Egypt Point and along The Esplanade.

The conditions throughout the event have demanded the utmost focus and physical effort from the nine competing teams and today was no exception with 20-25 knots of south-westerly breeze across the short race course and a choppy sea state.  Classic conditions for a potential pitch-pole or capsize and the crews knew it, racing with one reef in the mainsail and an extra fifth pro crew to add a bit of extra weight. The top mark proved a dangerous turning mark as they hoisted their giant gennakers to head downwind at full pelt – the crews ready in a second to ease the sails if the bows dug into the waves too deep.

Going into the fifth and final double points race of the day, Paul Campbell-James and his crew had almost done enough to keep the lead from Britain’s Mike Golding, but they had to finish the race – zero points and Ecover would claim the top spot. As it was the team did enough, scoring a 4th in the final race, to win the UK round of the Extreme Sailing Series on 249 points: “We knew if we capsized it would be the end of the regatta so pretty pleased to get through it,” said a relieved Campbell-James on the podium. 

Extreme 40 Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Weyth/ OC Events)

Extreme 40 Sailing Series Fleet (Photo by Paul Weyth/ OC Events)

But the Ecover team is ecstatic with their second overall place, their best result to date and appreciated the home crowd support: “It’s been great to have the support from the shore – you can even hear the yells and shouts from on board the boat,” said Golding. Tornado Olympic sailors Leigh McMillan and Will Howden have bought a new performance level to Mike’s team, who stepped back to allow the McMillan take the helm. It was a shrewd move and Golding’s team are really starting to gel, and will certainly be a force to contend with in the future.  Yann Guichard’s men on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, winners at the first round in France, always excel in light airs but struggle at times in heavy conditions. A final win in the last race would have lifted their spirits to secure third overall on the podium.

A real battle developed mid-leaderboard between Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah, Red Bull Extreme Sailing and Groupama 40. Only a handful of points separated these three going into the final race. Peyron secured fourth overall, although he never really got into his stride here, and Roman Hagara on Red Bull Extreme Sailing claimed 5th and although lacked consistency they, nonetheless, scored six bullets, ahead of the fastest man round the planet Franck Cammas on Groupama 40.  Groupama 40 provided the most dramatic moment of the UK round on the second day when the 40-foot catamaran careered towards the concrete sea wall without steerage. Franck and the crew had no option but to leap to safety.

Team GAC Pindar, who had the satisfaction of claiming some race wins here, proving that when they get it right they are competitive, finished in 7th place ahead of Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who is competing in the UK round as a one-off experience (for now!).  For the co-creator of the Extreme 40 class, Mitch Booth and the Team Ocean Racing Club, it proved to be a disastrous regatta, breaking their front beam ahead of the penultimate day and then having to sit and watch the other eight boats have some of the best racing this circuit has ever seen.

The Wave, Muscat’s victory here means they now share the top spot on the overall Series leaderboard with 14 points apiece.  Two points behind Oman Sail Masirah on 12 points.

Next stop for the Extreme Sailing Series is Kiel in Germany between 26-29 August.

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

Franck Cammas and Groupama 40 Crew In The Water After Collision with Boat and Wall ( Photo by Mark Lloyd / Lloyd Images / OC Events )

There was plenty of dramatic action on day two of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week today. With 18-20 knots of breeze, gusting over 20 at times, the nine teams were racing right on the edge, demanding 100% concentration and a constant rush of adrenalin for both the sailors and the spectators from the near capsizes, near misses and some not so near misses…
 
In race 11 (the fourth inshore race of today), approaching the windward mark Yann Guichard’s Groupe Edmond de Rothschild hit Franck Cammas’ Groupama 40 wiping out both rudders, leaving Groupama with no steerage whatsoever. Groupama 40 were heading straight for the shore at speed and for safety the crew leapt into the water to avoid the impact of hitting the sea wall – deciding they would prefer getting wet than being thrown forward on the boat and potentially injuring themselves. Groupama 40 has sustained both rudder and daggerboard damage and it will be a long night for the shore team to get them back racing tomorrow. Groupe Edmond de Rothschild has lodged a protest which the jury will hear and award redress if relevant.

 

 
Paul Campbell-James, the youngest skipper on the circuit at just 28, ensured The Wave, Muscat finished inside the top four in today’s races including the morning offshore race and the five inshore races this afternoon held off Egypt Point. Two wins this afternoon, two seconds and two third places put them top of the Extreme Sailing Series leaderboard on 85 points: “We got good starts which is a big part of today and we were pushing really hard downwind when we needed to. Sometimes we were so close to capsizing but you have to push it hard at times and back off at others.”

Yesterday, British skipper Mike Golding said he didn’t mind if they didn’t score any ‘bullets’ today, stating finishing inside the top four was more important. But his helm Leigh McMillan and the crew had other ideas – posting a win in the offshore race in the morning, then two further bullets in the penultimate and ultimate race of the day to finish in second place with 80 points. This kept the home crowd, who packed into the Extreme Bar and along the shoreline, happy as they cheered Golding’s crew all the way.

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth /  OC Events)

The Wave, Muscat At Cowes Week Extreme 40 Sailing (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events)

All the skippers talk about the importance of consistency but yesterday’s leader Loick Peyron on Oman Sail Masirah found his top form elusive today, only posting a third place in the second race this afternoon which leaves Peyron’s team in third place overall with 74 points – 7 points ahead of Guichard’s team in 4th.

Double Olympic Gold Medalist Roman Hagara had another day of mixed fortunes – one race win and a second place in the penultimate race, keeps them in contention in the middle of the leaderboard in 6th place, five points behind Mitch Booth’s The Ocean Racing Club who did well in this morning’s offshore finishing in second. Another frustrating day for Roland Jourdain’s Veolia Environnement who had rudder problems before the start of the first race then had to drop the mainsail between races to sort out another problem. The team unpracticed in the art of Extreme 40 racing, put a reef in early and raced cautiously throughout the afternoon, although the 1989 Formula 40 World Champion demonstrated why he clinched that title with a couple of great starts.

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes ( Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

 

The opening day of the UK round of the Extreme Sailing Series at Cowes Week opened at full throttle delivering some stunning race action to the crowds lining Cowes shoreline at Egypt Point as the nine Extreme 40s took centre stage for five short course races this afternoon.
Newcomers Veolia Environnement had their first extreme drama in the very first race when, just metres after the start in the afternoon, they collided with a mooring bouy ripping the helm out of skipper Roland Jourdain’s hand and breaking the starboard rudder. It put them out of action for the day but Veolia Environnement is anticipated to be back on the start line for tomorrow.

It was Loick Peyron and his crew that put in the most consistent performance of the afternoon starting with a fifth, then three second places and a bullet in the last race to put Oman Sail Masirah at the top of the leaderboard at the end of Day 1 with 46 points: “We work together to keep consistent because that’s what count here. Our objective is to make the top 4 in each race.”

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes Day One (Photo by Paul Wyeth/ OC Events )

Extreme Sailing Series At Cowes Day One (Photo by Paul Wyeth/ OC Events )

Ecover’s combined local knowledge of the Solent waters put Golding’s team in the running, finishing day 1 in second place on the leaderboard – the best result ever in his second year of campaigning in the Extreme Sailing Series: “The main thing about today is that we loved the win to begin with but the key thing for us was that we were consistent in pretty much every race and really that’s the key to it. If we can be consistent tomorrow and don’t mind if we go the whole day without a bullet so long as we’re consistently doing well in the regatta.

After the offshore morning race from the Royal Yacht Squadron to the mainland at Calshot, won by Mike Golding’s Ecover Sailing Team, the afternoon inshore racing started in earnest. After a gloomy start, the sun kicked in and lit up the race course as a solid 12-18 knots of wind built and the spectators that sat out all afternoon were rewarded for their dedication as the nine Extreme 40s scorched around the very short racecourses, often with their bows down and rudders out drawing gasps and cheers from the public. The short courses and their proximity to the shore combined with the wind ensured the pace was frenetic, forcing plenty of mistakes, keeping the umpires on their toes and the Extreme crews having to think fast on their feet.

Double Olympic Gold Medallist Roman Hagara and his Red Bull Extreme Sailing team came out of the starting blocks on a mission but the conditions proved challenging in more ways than one, as Hagara summed up: “We crashed into a rock in the first race [long offshore], won the second race and will try and forget the rest of the day! One pre-start, one penalty and some mistakes…. We know that we can do it in a better way.”

“It was right on the limit today – the whole racecourse was very, very short and the differences between the front boat and the back boat were minuscule. It’s so easy to lose places and if you make one mistake you can drop three or four places, but you can win it back if you keep your game together. The fact that everything was happening at such a frenetic pace you can’t really think at that pace as there is so much happening, it’s hard to take it all in. It’s lovely here at Cowes – great venue, great shorefront and we can see and hear the people on the shore cheering and yelling, and that’s a great feeling which is unusual in sailing.”

Hot favourites Yann Guichard’s crew on Groupe Edmond de Rothschild, found the conditions testing and finished in third place on the leaderboard with 38 points. It make take Guichard’s men a while to get used to the vagaries of The Solent but no one is under-estimating their comeback.

For full results, go to http://www.extremesailingseries.com/results/cowes/

Schedule for Sunday 1 August:

Planned from 12h00 – Moth Demonstrations & Racing
First Extreme 40 start at 3pm off Egypt Point
Daily public prizegiving 5.30pm
Jakey Chan & Wills of Steel 7-11pm Free entry

 

Cowes Action (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

Cowes Action (Photo by Paul Wyeth / OC Events )

 

The crew of Leg 4 Marc Lagesse, Mohammed al Ghailani, Mohsin Al Busaidi, Paul Standbridge, Sidney Gavignet, Yann Regniau (Photo by Mark Covell / Majan / Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race)

The crew of Leg 4 Marc Lagesse, Mohammed al Ghailani, Mohsin Al Busaidi, Paul Standbridge, Sidney Gavignet, Yann Regniau (Photo by Mark Covell / Majan / Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race)

 

  

Majan .

The international crew on board Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ have celebrated their arrival in Singapore on the penultimate leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race. Majan left Fremantle (Australia) on the 9th April for the 2,700-mile leg to Singapore which has proved to be a ‘mild affair’ compared to the storm-fuelled leg from Cape Town to Fremantle with Majan surviving 70-knot winds in the Southern Ocean. The high-performance A100 trimaran crossed the finish line off Cape Piai, the fourth great Cape of the course, at 14:47 GMT on Sunday (18th April) completing the fourth leg that started from the Fremantle ‘city’ start line in 9 days and 10 hours and a Cape Leeuwin-Cape Piai reference time of 8 days, 15 hours, 12 minutes, then reached Keppel Bay Marina late evening.

As Majan has traced out this inaugural Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course via the Maldives, Cape Town, Fremantle and now Singapore – the first race to link together the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia – the 105-ft multihull has generated a huge amount of interest. Every effort has been made by the crew to share the stopover and promote this new race, ahead of the official edition in spring 2012, with the media, VIPs, school children and local government. The Majan crew have engaged with the locals at every stopover giving talks at the local yacht club, opening up Majan to the public with some enjoying the privilege of sailing on board.

Singapore in particular has close maritime ties with Oman and shortly after Majan departs, a second Oman ship will be arriving. The Jewel of Muscat is a recreation of a 9th century AD 60-ft trading vessel that was hand-built with 70,000 stitches and without one nail on a beach near Oman’s capital Muscat. Launched into the Oman Sea for the first time last November, the ship was named at a special ceremony in Muscat attended by an official delegation from the Republic of Singapore before setting sail on 16th February. The Jewel of Muscat has already stopped in India and will now stop in Sri Lanka and Malaysia before arriving in Singapore in July. As part of Oman’s programme to reignite its maritime eminence, the Sultanate will be giving the Jewel of Muscat to the People of Singapore as a gift to heighten the awareness of the old trading routes between the two countries.

 

Back on the high speed trimaran, Majan’s crew got off to good, albeit upwind, start to Leg 4 as they headed south to Cape Leeuwin – not easy when you’re next destination lies to the north! Omani crew, Mohammed al Ghailani, wrote: “I always find the first 48 hours at sea very hard. As soon as my body and sleep clock has become accustomed to the timing, I am happy again. When you have your sea legs you have stopped feeling sick. We had an upwind start again, and yes I was very ill!” After Cape Leeuwin the ride got easier as Majan pushed northwards, however, four days into the leg drama struck.

 

Media crew, Mark Covell, takes up the story: “Mohsin [Al Busaidi] was steering in around 15 knots of breeze and we were sailing downwind off the north-west corner of Australia, under our huge cuban-fibre gennaker, the G1. Suddenly, the halyard snapped about a foot below the top of the mast sending the sail tumbling over the side in the dark. Mohsin, Marc [Lagesse] and Sidney [Gavignet] were on watch at the time. Quick thinking by Mohsin, meant little damage was done as he turned the boat down, slowing us right down, and shouted for Paul to come up on deck. This was quickly followed by a call for ‘all hands on deck’. It took about twenty minutes to haul the sail back on board.”

Thankfully no lasting damage was done and two days later the cry of ‘Land Ahoy’ went out as Majan came within sight of Jawa and Sumatra: “We have sailed in open ocean most of the time since we left Oman so this feels a bit strange for us,” wrote Mohsin. “Now we are having to navigate round obstacles, instead of sailing for days on one heading. No more long and open ocean swells and weather systems. This is flat water, island-hopping, coastal racing!”

 

Close to land and getting ever closer to the Equator, the wind dissipated in the soaring temperatures but with the bad comes the good: “A multihull can handle very big waves but give Majan flat water and she purrs along like a happy cat stretched out in the sun.

So far, we have made better progress than expected. The forecast has been for very little wind by day and a touch more by night. We did have a hot and painful 4 hour stretch of under 3 knots – but last night we fed off the updraft of a large thunderstorm about 10 miles away. As the hot are was sucked up into the system, it drew air past us giving us a solid 15 knots for most of the night,” reported Ghailani.

Now the Majan crew can relax for a while ahead of their scheduled departure from Singapore on the 27th April on the final leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, homeward bound to Oman.

About Cape Piai:

Marking the southernmost point of mainland Asia, Tanjung Piai (or Cape Piai) is located in the Johor district of Malaysia, that opens on the eponymous Strait, and across which the Singapore skyline is visible. The Cape itself, set in the preserved environment of the Johor Regional Park, is surrounded by spectacular mangrove forests and has become a touristic destination. Piai is also the point at which the Johor Strait joins the famous Strait of Malacca, which has made the headlines over the past decade due to piracy. Coordinates: 1°15’ N – 103°30’ E.

 Article Photos Courtesy Mark Covell / Majan / Oman Sail

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)

Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ has reached their second stopover in Cape Town, South Africa, after another epic leg full of drama, myths and one legendary Cape. The Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race is a new race, conceived by OC Events, that links the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia, and Majan is tracing out the new course ahead of the first official edition planned for spring 2012.

French sailor Sidney Gavignet will be joining Majan’s crew in Cape Town and will sail onboard the new A100 for the final three stages of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race. A very experienced offshore sailor, Sidney has just been announced as the skipper of Majan for the next edition of the solo Route du Rhum, starting from Saint-Malo in France this November.

majan

Paul Standbridge and his five crew on board Majan left the paradise of the Maldives on 16th February for the 4,200m second leg, taking 13 days and 6 hours to reach the longitude of Cape Aguhlas at 16:02:57 GMT on Monday (1.3.10) marking the finish of leg two.

The big dive South proved eventful aboard Majan, after thousands of miles at sea, a crossing of the Equator with due respects paid to Neptune, a grinding halt due to the threat of a hurricane, Cape Agulhas in her wake, and up to 50 knots on the final night speeding Majan to the dockside below Table Mountain with her ‘memories tank’ brimming.

storm gelane

A fierce Indian Ocean weather system – Hurricane Gelane, to be precise – played with the sailors’ nerves and forced them to take counter-intuitive measures. Paul Standbridge and his troops had no idea they would be forced to pull the handbrake on hard in order to avoid nature’s wrath on their way South. But their caution paid dividends as they avoided the worst of the hurricane until she was downgraded to a tropical storm.

A cry of liberation welcomed the weather report downloaded last Wednesday as the tropical storm was replaced by a perfect breeze under glorious skies. “With 20 knots under our wings, amidst deep blue ocean rollers and a bright sunny sky, we were back on the quest like Knights of the Round Table, going South,” wrote Covell. But Majan was entering a whole new world on this challenging Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course, getting the first hints of the feared and revered Southern Ocean. As Mohsin described it: “The waves have changed from being those ‘bumps in the road’, to large show-jumps, and now they are looking more like the side of a stable block!” By Monday (1.3.10), the crew were only 150 miles away from Cape Agulhas – the southernmost tip of the African continent (read below), separating the Atlantic and Indian oceans that marked the end of the second leg. This cape is set in a famously treacherous part of the world navigation-wise, and one of the most significant landmarks of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race.

mohsin

All weather considerations put aside, arguably the most important aspect of the second leg has been the “transformation”, witnessed by media crew Mark Covell, of Mohsin Al Busaidi whose metamorphosis into a pure offshore racer now seems complete. “I asked him how he was doing,” Mark reported, and Mohsin replied on behalf of the boat rather than himself, “thinking the language of a sailor and dealing in the international currency of boat speed – his conversion is almost complete.” This episode marks a real milestone in the life of the campaign – a year on since Mohsin became the first Arab to circumnavigate the globe non-stop, and earning his way into the great confederacy of wave chasers is a moment to be proud of! The new A100 multihull not only has a great pedigree – designed by Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret, constructed by Boatspeed and assembled in Salalah, Oman, under the expertise of Offshore Challenges’ Neil Graham – she was created for fully crewed inshore and offshore races whilst providing a training platform for up and coming novice sailors, as well as the option to be campaigned single-handed, all within a one-design rule.

Majan

As Majan skipper Paul Standbridge commented: “This has also been a good sea trial for Majan. We have just safely completed ten thousand sea miles [Note to Editors: since the launch of Majan last year]. We have had some damage and some wear and tear but nothing we can’t fix on the water. Structurally she is sound, she has been a very good boat and we are very happy with her. I’m very pleased with the two trainees – Mohsin continues to steer the boat well and the most improved is Mohammed. Leg 3 will be a much tougher leg. We are moving into the Southern Ocean with consistently higher winds and consistently bigger waves. We’ll hopefully do more than 600-miles in a day. I’m looking forward to it!”

Oman Sail’s Majan will remain in Cape Town until 9th March, then depart on the 4,800-mile Leg 3 for Fremantle, Australia, via Cape Leeuwin. Unfortunately for Oman Sail’s 75-ft trimaran Musandam, a boat that took Oman Sail’s crew non-stop around the world a year ago, was forced to return to Muscat. The intention was for Musandam to complete the entire course but technical problems with the mainsail prompted the decision to return to their Muscat base early to undergo a refit before handing the multihull over to a new owner who will also be competing in the Route du Rhum.

Cape Agulhas, between two oceans
cape Lying 90 nautical miles southeast of Cape Town, Cape Aghulas (“Cape of the Needles”) is the official dividing point between the Atlantic and the Indian Ocean – whose eastern border is marked by the southern tip of Tasmania. The region is notorious for being extremely dangerous for ships, notably because the Agulhas current (flowing from east to west) opposes the prevailing winds, allowing for the sudden formation of massive and steep waves… The area is now known as one of the high-risk zones as far as rogue waves (that can seem to come out of the blue and reach 30 metres in height) are concerned. Geologically speaking, Cape Aghulas’ mountainous formations are part of the Table Mountain Group. Its lighthouse was the second one built in the country, following a long series of shipwrecks, and was erected in 1848.
Geographical Coordinates: 34° 50’ S – 20° 00’ E