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Musandam-Oman Sail set Round Britain and Ireland Race record


Musandam-Oman Sail crew rejoice after breaking the world record for sailing around Britain and Ireland. – Supplied photo

Muscat: An exhausted but jubilant Sidney Gavignet and his crew of Damian Foxall, Fahad Al Hasni, Sami Al Shukaili, Yassir Al Rahbi and Jan Dekker crossed the Cowes finishline at 12.42.36 BST on Thursday.

Their time for the 1,956nms course was three days, three hours, 32 minutes and 36 seconds, which was just 16m, 38s faster than the previous world record set by Banque Populaire 5 in 2011. They averaged an incredible 23.8 knots all the way round the course and had no idea until they crossed the finish line that they had taken the record.

"We didn't realise we had broken the record until we crossed the finish line," said Gavignet. "We got to St Catherine's two hours before doing 30 knots but suddenly there was a cloud and no wind so we thought our chances had gone. But we kept working and working and finally we made it 16 minutes before the time limit."

"There was plenty of luck involved," he added.

"The weather was exceptional…I doubt you could find better for the Round Britain and Ireland Race except for two little clouds at the finish. We went round Great Britain and the islands without a tack, only gybes. No tack, zero tacks. That is rare, possibly unique.

"It's amazing to beat Loick Peyron and his boys on Banque Populaire 5 which is almost two times bigger than us. I kept saying there is no way we can beat that boat so it is a surprise. I'm a happy skipper."

Musandam-Oman Sail also knocked a massive two days, 17 hours and 52 minutes off the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race Record of five days, 21 hours, 26 minutes and 55 seconds set by Franck Cammas' monohull Groupama in 2010.

Musandam-Oman Sail, which is supported by the Ministry of Tourism, was racing with three Omani sailors in a total crew of six, with Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi joining Oman Sail's flagship boat just one month prior to the race.

"It was my dream to race on the MOD70 when I joined Oman Sail," enthused Al Shukaili."I pushed myself hard to lose weight and to sail hard every day to get into shape for the MOD70 and Fahad gave me a big push to sail with him. I knew there was a time to beat to break the record but at the finish I wasn't sure if we had done it. But I saw everyone was happy so I was happy with them."

Gavignet paid tribute to his Omani crewmembers, especially his two new recruits.

"They were not seasick, which is impressive and did not get tired and had a fantastic attitude. They picked up a lot of things on this trip and gained valuable experience. We have found two new Omani sailors which is great for us, great for them and great for Oman Sail."

Fahad Al Hasni has been with Musandam-Oman Sail from the day it was launched in 2012 and has many thousands of trimaran racing miles under his belt but this world record represented a special moment in his career, he said.

"It was good fun and it is great to come back with the record and to have the boat in one piece. Everyone is good and we are happy to have a crew that is half Omani for the first time and feel it is a really big thing to have done."

Ireland's foremost offshore sailor Damian Foxall has raced around the world seven times yet he too said this world record was one of his finest achievements.

"I would put this record up at the top of my list of achievements – the enormity hasn't really sunk in yet!" he said.

"Just to put things into context, two of our Omani crewmates had only stepped on to the MOD70 at the beginning of the season and they have made huge progress.

"The fact that we were able to push that hard around the course is a reflection of the crew's ability and bodes well for the future of Oman Sail – we are on the right track."

The stars of the show, according to Jan Dekker, one of the most experienced offshore sailors in the world but racing a MOD70 for the first time, were the 'amazing' boat and crew.

"Amazing conditions but mostly an amazing boat," he said.

"Doing 30-35 knots all the time. It was quite brutal – I have sailed ORMA60s a fair bit but this was full on. The only thing you can do down below is to hang on.The three Omanis were great – some more experienced than others but all totally at home on the boat."

Tributes started pouring in as soon as Musandam-Oman Sail's success was confirmed.

"This record is a testament to hard work all round," said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail. "Sidney and Damian have dedicated much of their time training our Omani sailing squad in all aspects of offshore sailing.

"Our Omani sailors have soaked that up over the last couple of seasons and worked hard in self-improvement. The world record beating crew was 50% Omani Nationals and this is a real achievement. We are a step nearer our goal and I am delighted for all the sailors."

When the celebrations have died down and the crew taken a well-earned rest, Gavignet will be on the move again, fitting his 'solo' kit to the MOD70 and kicking off his preparations for the single-handed Route du Rhum in November.

"We will have a little rest and a chat then head back to Lorient with our solo kit – our first single handed experience on this boat. I'm not sure what it will be like sailing solo on this boat. I think it will be tough so I will need plenty of luck. It is easy to capsize these boats so it will be about staying upright.

"This is a great way to finish our crewed season – a real high point, before going into the next phase towards the Route du Rhum.

"I think Musandam-Oman Sail and I can go quite fast together. I know the challenge is massive but it is a gift for me and I will go step by step."

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Well done on the new record Musandam-Oman Sail team. Regards Helen & Eddie Rivett