Oman Air Musandam Lloyd Images

Oman Air Musandam Lloyd Images

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

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

Sidney Gavignet by Lloyd Images

Sidney Gavignet by Lloyd Images

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

Oman Air Lloyd Images

Oman Air Lloyd Images

Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014

MOD70 programme

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

M34 programme

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

Oman Sail MOD70 & M34 squad 2014

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

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

Transat Jacques Vabre Le Havre  Jean-Marie Liot  DPPI TJV13

Strong wind in the Transat Jacques Vabre village in the Vatine Marina in Le Havre (North France) on October 28, 2013 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI/TJV13

Young British duo Sam Goodchild and Ned Collier Wakefield are expected in Le Havre this Tuesday after a tough battle to have their new, recently launched Jason Ker designed Class 40 fully optimised in time for the start of the race. They may have been pressed for time, but have left absolutely nothing to chance. After being cruelly forced to retire from the last Transat Jacques Vabre just after they had taken the Class 40 lead, overhauling, and battling through the last big storm of the race, they discovered some delamination in the front sections of their boat and had to abandon and head to the Azores. But they report that they are in good shape, ready to make the short hop from Hamble to Le Havre.

“We are waiting for the wind to die to get going, we still have 40kts but it is dropping fairly quickly and we should get going fairly soon. We have been watching the weather very closely”, Co-skipper Ned Collier Wakefield reported this morning.

To make sure nothing untoward happened on their final night in their home marina at Hamble Yacht Services before leaving for Le Havre, Collier-Wakefield decided to sleep on their boat through the storm force winds.

“I got a little sleep. I was more worried something would come crashing into us during the night. Actually I probably got better sleep than I would at sea! Otherwise we are getting there and will be ready to go shortly.”

“Race Direction have been very understanding. To be honest we just ran out of time. We had to get new spreaders made in Cape Town at the last minute. There has been some work to do with the rig and rudders. Andy Meiklejohn has been great in helping us set up the rig. We have had a few problems with the kick up rudders but have a good solution now. They have had a good test now and we are confident.”

Concise 8 has had ten days of trialling at sea including a tough sail down to Ushant and back from Hamble.

“We are incredibly impressed with the boat. We brought her back upwind in big seas and did some proper slamming. The performance is especially good reaching, I am sure we have one of the quickest boats when the wind is between 95-130 degrees especially. And we have had some great sailing under the big kites.”

The new Concise has a much more inboard chainplate position, which allows them to set big upwind Code Zero sails, especially potent for pushing through light wind transition zones, like in the Doldrums.

“The boat has the Transat Jacques Vabre and Route du Rhum as two key events. We looked at a lot of historical weather data for the races and developed a potent hull form. The rig is a little heavier for this set up, but we did a lot of work with the sail and rig development, with Chris Williams and Scott Ferguson and so it feels like we have a proper closed loop, grand prix set up.”

Collier-Wakefield is confident he knows their new boat better than any of his rivals, having been in the yard in China throughout the build.

“Yes we have not had the time we might have wanted on the water but we have had great guys involved all the way through.”

Living the Dream, Taking A Chance
And while the young English duo are on the ascent as professional sailors, looking to make their mark at the front of the fleet, so Class 40 of the Transat Jacques Vabre is also where many of the most committed and talented amateur sailors will compete, living their dreams. Some of them have limited expectations of winning, looking to get to Brazil safely and to sail to the best of their ability. Budgets and racing experience may be correspondingly less than their professional rivals but these amateurs are no less enthusiastic.


There are osteopaths, project managers, emergency doctor, company directors but now they are taking time out from their wage paying careers to take on the adventure of the Transat Jacques Vabre.

“It is really not easy to find time to prepare. I delivered the boat from Marie Galante with a friend who could barely sail. Let’s say it was a real baptism of fire!” recalls Dominique Rivard (Marie Galante ).Australians Michelle Zwagerman and Pat Conway on the Class 40 are also living their dream.


Doctor Damien Rousseau skipper of the Class 40 Mr Bricolage engaged in the Transat jacques Vabre in Le Havre (North France) on October 28, 2013 – Photo Jean-Marie Liot / DPPI/TJV13

“It started last year in April. We bought the boat and have done it all ourselves. For us, it is a huge challenge”.

Christoph Petter (co-skipper on Vaquita), is an Austrian entrepreneur who set sail on his adventures five years ago and enjoys offshore races, but the Transat Jacques Vabre will be his first big one.

“We feel both excitement and fear”, says Michelle Zwagerman. “We’ll have to control our anxiety during gales, but most of the time, it will be fantastic. Dolphins, the moon, the stars, I am looking forwards to some great moments.”

Tough budgets
And even making it to the start of Transat Jacques Vabre requires great perseverance and tenacity.

Damien Rousseau explains: “I started without money but wanted to realise a childhood dream. I took the big chance and plunged into debt. I thought it was no worse than buying a nice car but I finally also found myself a sponsor who has helped me do it a bit more comfortably.”

Rousseau has been able to race in various events in preparation including a good ninth place in Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables . But, in contrast, without a sponsor Dominique Rivard has had to draw on his own money: “I took a bank loan to buy a boat at EUR 250,000. Everything is very expensive, I have put another EUR 80,000 euros in the pot since, and I have worked 70 hours a week.”

All of these sailors are on a break from their daily lives and careers: some see it as big step towards new adventures, others a unique one off experience, like Pat Conway: “Our boat is already for sale and once we have completed the Transat Jacques Vabre we return a normal life in Australia.”

Village life
Closed since 2000hrs Sunday night due to the storm force winds the village of the Transat Jacques Vabre will reopen tomorrow (Tuesday) morning at 1000hrs.

All of the technical teams have remained on high alert around the village of the Transat Jacques Vabre. Buses and lorries were parked along the perimeter to protect the tents around Paul Vatine dock.

2011 Title Defenders
Monohull 60′:
Jean-Pierre DICK & Jérémie BEYOU
15days 18h 15min 54sec

Multihull 50′:
17days 17h 7min 43sec

Class 40′:
21days 17h 59min 8sec

2013 Participants



  • 11TH Hour racing  – Hannah Jenner, Rob Windsor
  • APRIL / DELTACALOR -Lionel Regnier, Tim Darni
  • BET1128  – Gaetano Mura, Sam Manuard
  • Campagne de France  – Halvard Mabire, Miranda Merron
  • Caterham Challenge  – Mike Gascoyne, Brian Thompson
  • Concise 8  – Ned Collier Wakefield, Sam Goodchild
  • Croix du sud  – Michelle Zwagerman, Patrick Conway
  • DUNKERQUE – PLANETE ENFANTS  – Bruno Jourdren, Thomas Ruyant
  • Eärwen  – Catherine Pourre, Goulven Royer
  • ECOELEC – FANTRONIC – Eric Darni, Florent Bernard
  • ERDF – Des pieds et Des mains  – Damien Seguin, Yoann Richomme
  • Fantastica  – Stefano Raspadori, Pietro D’Ali
  • GDF SUEZ  – Sébastien Rogues, Fabien Delahaye
  • Groupe Picoty  – Jean-Christophe Caso, Aymeric Chappellier
  • Mare  – Jörg Riechers, Pierre Brasseur
  • MARIE-GALANTE  – Dominique Rivard, Wilfrid Clerton
  • Matouba  – Bertrand Guillonneau, Sébastien Audigane
  • Mr Bricolage  – Damien Rousseau, Matthieu Alluin
  • Obportus³  – Olivier Roussey, Philippe Burger
  • Phoenix Europe  – Louis Duc, Stéphanie Alran
  • Proximedia – Sauvez Mon Enfant  – Denis Van Weynbergh,
  •                                                               Jean-Edouard Criquioche
  • SNCF – GEODIS  – Fabrice Amedeo, Armel Tripon
  • Solidaires En Peloton   –  Victorien Erussard, Thibaut Vauchel-Camus
  • Tales Santander 2014   –  Alex Pella, Pablo Santurde
  • Vaquita    –  Christof Petter, Andreas Hanakamp


  • Bureau vallée    –  Louis Burton, Guillaume Le Brec
  • Cheminées Poujoulat   –  Bernard Stamm, Philippe Legros
  • Energa    –  Zbigniew Gutkowski , Maciej Marczewski
  • Initiatives-Coeur  –  Tanguy de Lamotte, François Damiens
  • MACIF   –   François Gabart, Michel Desjoyeaux
  • Maitre CoQ   –  Jérémie Beyou, Christopher Pratt
  • PRB  –  Vincent Riou, Jean Le Cam
  • Safran   –   Marc Guillemot, Pascal Bidégorry
  • TEAM PLASTIQUE  – Alessandro Di Benedetto, Alberto Monaco
  • Votre Nom Autour du Monde  – Bertrand de Broc, Arnaud Boissières


  • Edmond de Rothschild   –  Sébastien Josse, Charles Caudrelier
  • OMAN AIR – MUSANDAM   –  Sidney Gavignet , Damian Foxall

Multi 50

  • Actual  – Yves le Blévec, Kito de Pavant
  • Arkema-Région Aquitaine   –  Lalou Roucayrol, Mayeul Riffet
  • FenêtréA Cardina  –  lErwan Le Roux, Yann Elies
  • Maître Jacques   –   Loïc Féquet, Loic Escoffier
  • Vers un monde sans SIDA  –  Erik Nigon, Samy Villeneuve
Thomas Ruyant, Winner Mini Transat 650 (Photo by Denis van den Brink / GPO)

Thomas Ruyant, Winner Mini Transat 650 (Photo by Denis van den Brink / GPO)

Doing little jumps, a carnival hat from his hometown Dunkerque on his head, crying, Thomas Ruyant (Faber France) made a grand entrance in the Marina of Bahia. In front of the pack of journalists in a big smile, he started: “I do not like it too much and I do not know what to say in those moments. It was a great feeling when I crossed the finish line. A great moment of happiness.”

Thomas Ruyant (Faber France) has just cut the line of the second leg of The Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6,50. His journey between Funchal and Bahia was 18 days 20 hours and 16 minutes long at a speed of 6.92 knots on average.

After a good caïpirinha, Thomas still very moved talked about his race: “The difference, I work on it for two years. Two years of work to achieve this. We stayed in contact with Schipman and Delesne and it was really nice. We spoke to the VHF. But it is so difficult this Transat. Crossing the Atlantic on such boats is not really effortless.”

And he says: “I talked every day to my boat. I know her qualities and imperfections. She answered to all my expectations. I really took risks in the Doldrums. I was constantly at the helm saying, after there you will beat and you will rest. I really did not let go. I sometimes used my spinnaker even when I met with a squall. At this point I have gradually widened the gap. Then I made the crossing at top speed by helming almost all the time.”

We bring him fruits and caïpirinha. He is pleased: “That, that is missing. Food. That is so good. Now, what I want is to eat well, be with family and friends and… sleep on my belly. ”

What is the Mini Transat?  Racing school,  first step to become a professional skipper, life’s adventure,  having the will to live  closest to the ocean for over a month of sailing.  The challenge of vanquishing the sun, solitude, thirst, hunger and fear of sailing without any external assistance, accustom the body to sleep by 20 minutes slots, optimize a 4m3 ” flat ” with an ocean view, kitchen, bedroom, and integrated toilets… The Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6, 50 is all that and remains THE out of the common race.

They all participated and admit that the transatlantic is the 1st world’s race to start single-handed racing. That race is subtitled: ” Get your Mini first! “It must be said that the predecessors are famous ones and the list of registrants can get you dizzy: Ellen Mc Arthur, Isabelle Autissier, Catherine Chabaud, Yves Parlier, Jean-Luc Van Den Heede, Michel Desjoyaux, Loïck and Bruno Peyron, Yvan and Laurent Bourgnon, Roland Jourdain, Sébastien Josse, Thomas Coville, Lionel Lemonchois, Halvard Mabire… They are all here! ” On water, I really learned what solitude is because I had no way to communicate. When I finished the race I realized that I had made it by myself as a real solo guy and that everything had been fine without asking myself any questions. We become tough to pain… And crazy “, Thierry Dubois, winner in 1993 on Amnesty International.

 Thirty-two years after the race was created, the 17th edition of The Charente-Maritime/Bahia Transat 6,50  fleet  began  racing to Salvador de Bahia (Brazil). Previously known as Mini-Transat, this now legendary event brings together every two years, skippers of all backgrounds, (small ones, large ones and future large ones) in a spirit made of solidarity, and mutual respect with all nationalities represented! The Charente Maritime / Bahia Transat 6.50 race is the most international solo race with no less than 12 nationalities represented. This 17th edition will bring together American, Australian, English, Spanish, Italian, Swiss, South African, French, German, Portuguese, Norwegian and Brazilian…

 Impressive! Really impressive to see the power of the Finot-Conq and the control of the skipper who is now 65 miles away from the second HP Schipman (Maisons de l’avenir-Urbatys). With in his wake, Francois Cuinet (Plan Jardin); François that continues to push his Plan Bouvet 2002, but that can only observe the maestro, the young and talented Thomas. He is now 74 miles behind! And it continues with the two plans Manuard launched at 12.53 knots for Bertrand Delesne (Entreprendre durablement) and 12.33 knots for Stéphane Le Diraison (Cultisol-Marins sans frontières). That have to do something, it is now or never, and they know it.
Yet, the accordion played its favourite tune once more out of the Doldrums and Thomas managed to establish almost 100 miles between him and the 5th…