Sidney Gavignet skipper, Sultanate of Omanís MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail, completes Route du Rhum solo qualifier

Monday, 08 September 2014

Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship Musandam-Oman Sail, completed the single-handed 1,000 nautical mile Route du Rhum qualifier over the weekend marking the start of his race to prepare for one of the biggest challenges of his career and providing a new benchmark for Oman Sail's Omani sailors to aspire to.

With the fully-crewed racing season behind him, including the epic sprint around Great Britain and Ireland with a 50% Omani crew for the first time, obliterating the record set by a boat almost twice the size, and setting a new one at 3 days 3 hours 32 minutes and 36 seconds, Sidney Gavignet is now fully focussed on preparations for November's Route du Rhum. 

“It is back to school for me,” he said on Sunday morning in Lorient after four and a half days at sea alone. “I was lucky with my first solo experience, the conditions were favourable which is a very good way to start and I was happy to get four and a half days of experience in one hit as it is unlikely to be possible again during my training,” he said. 

“In terms of the duration, it is pretty much half a Route du Rhum! I am very happy with the way things went, the mixed Omani and international shore team has done a very good job preparing the boat and I was able to see where we are at and what still remains to be done. I feel that we have started on the right foot.” 

Light conditions for the qualifier meant heading West out of Lorient to reach a low pressure and some wind which meant Sidney was able to practice sailing downwind for 500 nautical miles before turning for home and sailing back upwind. “It was ideal for practicing my boat handling, I made progress slowly but surely, particularly with the tacking which I find the hardest. I think I have found the key to it now and can apply that to the manoeuvres in any conditions. 

“I furled and unfurled the gennaker as well a few times and also flew it upwind in the light, I basically sailed the boat as if it were crewed, although the biggest difference of course is how light it is – you don’t need to load it up as much to get it going.” 

One of the most central parts of Sidney’s preparations is his sleep pattern; he has been sleeping for a maximum of 20 minutes at any one time for a few weeks and this seems to be working well: “I think I have found a good rhythm,” he said. “I have a very good alarm system onboard which means I can allow myself to be more calm and when you are calm you are able to get to sleep more quickly and the quality of rest is higher.” 

This will be Sidney Gavignet’s second Route du Rhum at the helm of the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship campaign powered by Oman Sail, a national initiative that uses the power of sport to promote the country, to contribute to its development and to drive the personal development of its people - most notably by creating a generation of sailors that compete alongside international crews on the MOD70, the Extreme Sailing Series, at the Tour de France a la Voile and on the J80 and Olympic Class circuits. These sailors learn from Sidney and the other international sailors in the squad and in turn are role models to the grass root and youth sailing programmes that Oman Sail runs back home with the ultimate goal of winning an Olympic medal. 

“We are much better prepared at this stage of the challenge than we were four years ago at the same time and after a good first solo session in light conditions, I am looking forward to the next phase,” concluded Sidney.

Oman Sail’s road to the Route du Rhum:

  • 25 September: Route du Rhum skippers presentation, Paris
  • 24 October: Opening of the Route du Rhum village and deadline to arrive in St Malo
  • 25 October: official boat checks
  • 30 October: skippers briefing (sailing instructions & safety)
  • 1 November: weather briefing and off dock for some of the fleet
  • 2 November at 1400: start of the 10th edition of the Route du Rhum – destination Guadeloupe

Editors Note:
Oman Sail is a national initiative established in 2008 that uses the power of sport to contribute to the development of the Omani people. 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 70,000 Omani children to sail by 2020 at eight sailing schools, four of which are already operational. 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

See Fast Multihulls > MOD70 Oman Sail images

Last Updated ( Monday, 08 September 2014 )