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

 

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.”

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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)