Oman Sail to kick off busy Multi One Design season with Round Ireland Record attempt

Wednesday, 20 March 2013

The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 flagship Musandam-Oman Sail is due to kick off a busy racing season with a Round Ireland Record attempt in the second half of March. French skipper Sidney Gavignet returns to lead the 6-man crew made up of Omani sailors and well-known international pros for a season that will also include the Route des Princes and the Rolex Fastnet Race…

Sidney Gavignet’s new look crew on Oman’s flagship Multi One Design 70 Musandam-Oman Sail have brought with them new expectations for the 2013 season as their preparations start in earnest this week with an attempt on the long-standing Round Ireland record.

As part of an intensive three week training programme, the Oman Sail crew, featuring three new faces from last season, will make a bid on the 20 year-old record as a practice run for the team’s busy racing schedule later this summer.

The 700-mile sprint through the lumpy Irish Seas and the Atlantic Ocean is sure to be a baptism of fire for one of the new crew, Omani sailor Ahmed Al Maamari who only recently stepped aboard the MOD70.

Ahmed was one of the original recruits to Oman Sail in 2008 when the national initiative was first set up to provide sail training, life-long learning and development opportunities for the youth of Oman.

Since then he has competed in the Extreme 40s, Clipper Round the World Race and the Tour de France a la Voile having previously served as a member of the Sultan’s Special Forces in Oman.

He is a fast learner said Gavignet, who as skipper of Musandam-Oman Sail is responsible for developing the elite sailors coming through Oman Sail’s growing ranks of talented professionals. 

“Ahmed is starting from scratch so the goal is to bring him up to standard as quickly as possible but from what I’ve seen so far, he is a good sailor and picks things up quickly so we are confident he will contribute to our performance this summer,” said Gavignet.

“It is a great honour to be selected for the MOD70 crew this summer and I am really looking forward to learning as much as I can and contributing as much as possible,” added Ahmed.

“Oman Sail has given me a superb opportunity to grow within this sport and I have worked hard to get to this place. I hope the young Omanis aspiring to sail at our sailing schools back home will see this as encouragement.”

He will not be short of opportunities for fast track learning since Gavignet has retained the services of both Frenchman Thomas Le Breton and Oman’s Fahad Al Hasni, who was one of the stars of Oman Sail’s 2012 campaign despite having vision problems. These happily have been corrected and Al Hasni’s rapid progress is set to continue apace.

Oman Sail has also snapped up two of the world’s most complete sailors in Britain’s Neal McDonald and Ireland’s Damian Foxall to complete their impressive line up for 2013.

A number of the crew raced together in the recent EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour and according to their skipper, are shaping up as a team capable of putting in consistently strong performances and posting victories. 

“We did well to be close to the podium on the European Tour last year, competing against teams that were very experienced,” said Gavignet.

“I think on the basis of what we learned in 2012 and the progress we made, we can start winning this year. Last season we had less training and less experience than anyone else but this year we have done more training and we have a bit more experience so it is all going the right way. I expect the improvements to continue and we will be trying to win.”

The attempt on the Round Ireland record, due to start from Dun Laoghaire in Ireland, will be followed by more training at Port la Foret in France before their first two events, the Grand Prix Guyader and the AR Men Race, both in France in May.

But their main focus in 2013 will be the Route des Princes, starting from Valencia, Spain, in June in which they will be pitted against some old MOD70 adversaries from last year’s MOD70 European Tour.

The Rolex Fastnet Race, one of the classic yacht races on the biennial calendar, is in their sights in August with other commitments due to be confirmed in coming weeks.

Musandam-Oman Sail MOD 70 2013 racing calendar 

20-30 March: Round Ireland Record attempt

3-6 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez  

9-11 May: AR Men Race, La Trinité

6-30 June: Route des Princes (Valencia-Spain, Lisbon-Portugal, Dun Laoghaire-Ireland, Plymouth-UK, Baie de Morlaix-France)

8 August: Cowes Week Artemis Challenge

11-13 August: The Rolex Fastnet Race

Musandam-Oman Sail MOD 70 2013 race crew

Sidney Gavignet (FRA)

Thomas Le Breton (FRA)

Fahad Al Hasni (OMA)

Neal McDonald (GBR)

Damian Foxall (IRE)

Ahmed Al Maamari (OMA)

Editors note:

Oman Sail is a national initiative established in 2008 to contribute to the development of Oman and Omanis through the sport of sailing. The equal opportunity project runs sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani men and women, inspiring a new generation to discover sailing. It encompasses a national sailing squad and high achieving inshore and offshore racing teams, all of which benefit from world-class coaching and whose ultimate objective is to win an Olympic medal for Oman. The programme has pledged to teach 30,000 Omani children to sail by 2015 at seven sailing schools to be built along the coast. The goal is to rekindle Oman’s maritime heritage while raising the country’s regional and international profile as a high-end tourist and foreign investment destination, through competitive sailing at home and abroad. Oman Sail seeks to instil confidence and to teach valuable, transferable life skills to a generation of Omanis.

Daphne Morgan Barnicoat

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Last Updated ( Wednesday, 20 March 2013 )