With a very busy training and racing season ahead, Musandam-Oman Sail’s French skipper Sidney Gavignet chose safety for the crew and the boat this morning over the Round Ireland Record attempt and decided to turn back to Lorient in France where the boat is based.

The strong winds that looked set to aid Musandam-Oman Sail’s attempt on the Round Ireland record proved too strong in the end and while conditions had decreased a little overnight, the wind was gusting 38knots plus and the sea state was still very rough with 4m at the Fastnet.

Writing from the boat, Sidney said: “We will not attempt the record this time, we are heading back to Lorient. The conditions are ‘almost’ ok, but we prefer to play it safe with such a busy season ahead, our priority is the crew and boat safety. Hopefully we will come back later in the year to try for the record in better conditions.”

The six-man crew had been on standby for almost 18 hours, making assessments with each weather update on the feasibility of success in their attempt on the 708 mile record, with impact on both boat and crew figuring high in their considerations.

This Round Ireland Record attempt was to be a kick off for the three-week training period for the new crew on the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship Multi One Design 70, but with a very long season ahead, the seasoned French offshore skipper decided that safety was the order of the day.

“I would like to thank the World Speed Sailing Council for all their support during the planning of this attempt and hope to be back later in the year.”

To set a new record, Musandam-Oman Sail had to complete the circuit in less than 44 hours and 42 minutes, the record set by sailor, balloonist and adventurer Steve Fossett on his 60 foot trimaran Lakota in 1993.

With a new crew featuring experienced internationals Neal McDonald, Damian Foxall and Thomas Le Breton and Omani nationals Fahad Al Hasni and Ahmed Al Maamari, the Round Ireland record attempt marked their first competitive activity, with this race against the clock seen as good preparation for a busy season of racing in Europe.

Between them, the crew showcases some of the most distinguished careers in professional sailing with McDonald, one of the world’s best offshore sailors, having completed six Volvo Ocean Races, including one and a half (Assa Abloy and Ericsson) as skipper.

Irish sailor Foxall is also a Volvo veteran with four campaigns but he can go one better than McDonald since in 2011-12, he went on to win it as a member of the victorious Groupama crew having already added the Barcelona World Race title in 2008 to his long list of achievements.

McDonald and Foxall are both new to the Oman Sail MOD70 campaign but both have competed with and against their new skipper. Gavignet served under McDonald on Assa Abloy in 2001 and trained and raced with Foxall in the Figaro and Admiral’s Cup.

“The three of us know each other well and there is a lot of confidence and respect between us so I feel really well surrounded by these guys,” said Gavignet.

Fahad Al Hasni was part of the MOD70 crew last year, impressing his teammates with his natural helming skills while Al Maamari was one of the original recruits to Oman Sail when it was established in 2008 to use the power of sport to contribute to the development of the Omani people. Over five years, he has inspired hundreds of Omani youngsters to take up sailing by venturing out on offshore adventures and learning new skills.

“This Round Ireland attempt was always going to be a big challenge for me but I am proud to be a member of the Musandam-Oman Sail crew,” said Al Maamari. “Hopefully we will make another attempt later in the year and I hope my adventures will inspire some of our young Omani sailors back home,” he said.

Musandam-Oman Sail is due to arrive back in Lorient on Sunday morning and training will resume apace from Wednesday.

To stay posted on Oman Sail and Oman Sail’s MOD70 programme, please go to www.omansail.com and www.gomusandam.com.


Musandam-Oman Sail MOD 70 2013 racing calendar

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 (IRL)
Ahmed Al Maamari (OMA)