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Musandam-Oman Sail gears up for UK season


MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail in action on the high seas. Photo - Supplied

Muscat: Record-breaking MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail will be on the trail of new trophies in August when it arrives to Cowes on the Isle of Wight, one of the world's most celebrated sailing centres, to take part in two pinnacle events of the 2014 British offshore racing season.

Co-skippers Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) have put together a MOD70 crew selected from Oman Sail's elite squad of 10 sailors for the Artemis Challenge, the 50 mile race around the Isle of Wight, and for the 1,800 nm Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race three days later.

For the first time, half of the six-strong Musandam-Oman Sail offshore crew for the Round Britain Race will be Omani sailors including regular Fahad Al Hassani, Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi, members of Oman Sail's M34 squad for the Tour de France a la Voile who switched to the MOD70 earlier this year.

Multihull expertise will also be boosted by the addition of America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran Jan Dekker from South Africa, a key member of the Groupama trimaran campaigns for the past ten years and involved in both the Alinghi America's Cup campaign in 2010 and Oracle's win last year.

"Having Fahad, Sami and Yassir with us on the Round Britain Race is especially exciting. It is the result of a lot of hard work on their part and creates a strong platform for Oman Sail's offshore plans in the future," said Foxall.

"We are also fortunate to have Jan with us for the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race and think we will all benefit from his experience, energy and drive. He has been round the world four times including once on the trimaran Club Med and remains one of the strongest multihull experts in the business so knows how to make these boats go fast. Hopefully we can tap into some of that knowledge to learn a few new skills and maybe claim a line honours win.

Musandam-Oman Sail achieved notoriety in Germany last month when it smashed the 27.5 mile Kiel Week Welcome Race record from Kiel to Eckernforde by almost 20 minutes, a feat that led directly to a wave of enquiries about the Oman at the popular exhibition pavilion, set up in conjunction with Ministry of Tourism in the Kiel Week Village. The same pavilion, complete with a stunning presentation of images, produce and customs from Oman, will be set up in Cowes, where thousands of visitors will be welcomed for a tour while sampling the exotic Omani wares on offer.

On the racetrack, the Oman Sail objective will be two fold. To foster the skills and know-how of the ever expanding pool of talented Omani sailors to prepare them for future challenges, and to look at new records, in particular the Round Britain record set in 2011 by Loick Peyron's Banque Populaire of 3d 3h 49m and 14s. Equally important is the need to preserve the boat ahead of Oman Sail's campaign for the Route du Rhum in November, explained newest addition to the crew Jan Dekker.

"The MOD70s are good solid fast boats and the aim is to win but it is important not to damage the boat because of the Route du Rhum later in the year so we can't take any risks," he added.

Musandam-Oman Sail will attend Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week from August 2-9 as part of its UK Ministry of Tourism corporate hospitality programme and will race in the Artemis Challenge on August 7 where a £10,000 prize fund will be donated to the charity of the winner's choice. The Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race starts on Sunday August 10 with up to 30 boats expected on the Cowes start line.

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