Sidney Gavignet and Musandam-Oman Sail Crew Claim Win in Leg 4, Cascais to Marseilles
man Sail’s flagship boat Musandam-Oman Sail hurtled across the finish line in Marseilles today to celebrate their first win of an offshore leg in the MOD70 European Tour and lift them to third overall in the rankings.After battling with light winds from the start of the leg in Cascais on Thursday, the final few hours saw an altogether different struggle as Sidney Gavignet’s triumphant Omani and European crew encountered 35 knot winds which almost caused them to capsize just ten minutes from the finish.“We were going very fast – sometimes too fast,” said an emotional Gavignet.
“It was a bit scary going at those speeds in the black night. We almost capsized in the bay. The wind was dropping but we were caught by a 40 knot gust. The boat reared up – it was so sudden.”
This jolt came on top of discovering as they approached the finish that another 40 mile upwind stage had been added to the 1030 nm course making it an action-packed closing stage to a dramatic leg.
They completed the course from Cascais to Marseilles in 3 days 16 hours 11 minutes and 34 seconds, crossing the line two hours and 23 minutes ahead of second placed Steve Ravussin’s Race for Water and two hours and 45 minutes ahead of sailing legend Michel Desjoyeaux on Foncia.
The result was a great testament to the developing skills of the Musandam-Oman Sail crew, Gavignet said, making special mention of Omani helmsman and trimmer Fahad Al Hasni, Khamis Al Anbouri also from Oman and navigator Jeff Cuzon from France.
“Fahad is a great example of what we are trying to do at Oman Sail. He has grabbed the opportunity of being part of Oman Sail and is running with it.
“He still has a lot to learn but he is becoming a serious offshore sailor, both technically and in terms of his energy. He is very positive and contributes to the team, which for me is almost more important than whether they are good or bad sailors.
“Being part of Oman Sail is a platform for doing something great and he is really making the most of his opportunity.
“We are all making progress especially Jeff Cuzon who has been doing a great job in the nav station. He understands better and better what these boats can do and what is and isn’t dangerous from a navigation point of view.
“Khamis came in and replaced Mohsin Al Busaidi for this leg but Mohsin took it the right way and although Khamis was seasick, his energy was impressive. I think he may have been our lucky charm.”
“I am so happy for the team – very proud of them and of our flag,” added Al Hasni.
“I always felt we could win because each time we finished a leg, we discovered something new and added to our experience. In this leg, we discovered we were very fast in the light winds, which has given us a lot of confidence.
“We have beaten some of the best sailors in the world by a long distance and that makes us proud,” said a tired Al Hasni who was planning on a big 24 hour sleep, waking up only when he needed to eat.
For Khamis al Anbouri, it was his first experience of sailing offshore after a career spent mainly racing inshore, during which time, he has posted a win against MOD70 European Tour rival Yann Guichard in the Extreme 40s
“It was my first offshore race and winning the stage was amazing. It shows we are competitive. I was seasick just for an hour but I was able to keep on working because I was so happy to be on board for the leg.
“I love to compete and win especially against these sailors because they are the best. I have now beaten Yann Guichard twice – one in the Extreme 40s and now this.
“It would be nice one day to see an Omani sailor skippering one of these boats and I shall be working very hard towards that aim.”
In Cascais last week, Michel Desjoyeaux, one of most admired and respected offshore sailors in the world commended the Musandam-Oman Sail crew on their progress in the European Tour.
“Sidney (Gavignet) and Oman Sail has improved fast as a team,” he said.
“It’s a very hard job to win because the delivery is very high on all the boats, and because the boats are one design it is difficult to be first.
“My advice for the young Omanis back home is that they have the opportunity today for some of them to sail on the MOD70 but it is the highest they can achieve at the moment. They have to consider that it is a real chance for them but to learn sailing they must sail as much as possible.
“They must sail every kind of boat they can, every race they can and don’t hesitate to take the chance to change boats and sail all kinds of boat, small boats, big boats, boats with full crew, short crew, offshore, inshore to get more experience.”
The Musandam-Oman Sail team will now get some rest ahead of the Marseille City Race which starts on Friday.
Leg 4 Cascais to Marseille
1. Musandam Oman Sail finish time: 07h 11m 34s (3 days 16 hours 11 minutes and 34 2 seconds)
2. Race for Water: 2h 23m 7s from winner
3. FONCIA: 2h 45m 32s from winner
28/09: Marseille City Race
29/09: Marseille City Race
30/09: Start of Leg 5 Marseille – Genoa