Just 97 days after Oman Sail’s A100 multihull Majan left her mooring in Muscat, the crew has completed tracing out the course of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, crossing the longitude of cape Ras Al Hadd for the second time yesterday at 23:30 GMT.
Leg 5 has been a magical final journey between the Cape Piai (Malaysia) and Majan’s home, steeped in history and spirituality courtesy of India’s Cape Comorin – but also high on emotion for the crew: whilst en route towards home, Mohsin Al Busaidi received a phone call informing him of the birth of his daughter!
After an activity-packed stopover in Singapore, Majan set sail again and crossed the longitude of Cape Piai on the 27th of April, welcoming on board a new crew member, Ali Hamad Ambusaidi, who shared his enthusiasm with onboard reporter Mark Covell: “I have always wanted to sail in the Indian Ocean and see the long rolling waves”, he said. “I have also wished that one day I could sail on Majan. Now I get the chance to do both at once.”
After a slow start, day 2 brought speed back on the menu, and thanks to warm winds Majan was starting to stretch her legs on fabulously flat seas, which meant the crew could enjoy the trimaran’s power without any shaky movement, under a glorious full moon… “Hard to beat,” as Mark Covell put it! The next day brought even better news, as Mohsin became the father of a little girl named Thura, a happy event that Paul Standbrige, Majan’s skipper, had never had celebrated on board a boat before despite his packed racer’s career.
Mohsin’s patience was certainly put to the test since Majan soon became trapped in light airs like a “fly in a sticky web.” As Mark Covell reported: “There is so little wind and the sea lies so still and lifeless. It’s 40º on deck and 33º in the water. Eating a hot meal is the last thing you want and sleep is harder to achieve in your roasting bunk. Will we ever get to Muscat?” It certainly has been a long slog back home, and it eventually took 15 days and 19 hours to complete the fifth and final leg, cape to cape (Piai to Ras Al Hadd).
With the pressure of the ticking clock lifted, Mark Covell sat down at his keyboard one last time while Majan was making her way towards Muscat: “As is the same with so many ocean voyages, we’re happy to have finished safely, but sad that it’s all over. By the time we get to the dock 140 nm from here we will have logged 20,419 nm sailed. The sun is rising over us and more poignantly it’s rising over Oman. We are home!”
97 days after their departure, the crew will now be duly welcomed and celebrated by their team and the Omani public after tracing out this new and challenging course that links together the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia, ahead of the first official edition of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race planned for spring 2012. OC Events Asia, organisers of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, would like to send Majan’s crew heartfelt congratulations for having superbly written the first chapter of a story bound to open new horizons!
Leg 5 in figures…
• Distance: 3,200 nm / 5,900 km
• Dock to dock:16 days 1 hours 00 minutes
• Cape to Cape: 15 days 19 hours 30 minutes
After a busy and very successful Australian stopover, Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ left the dock this morning, en route to Cape Leeuwin where she will embark on the penultimate leg of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course that the Majan crew are tracing out for the first time. As media crew Mark Covell reported by phone shortly after having hoisted the sails, “We are sailing in bright sunshine, on a very bumpy windward beat towards Cape Leeuwin, with Australia on our port side.” The Majan boys are in for a few rough hours before being able to head North with the wind gently pushing them!”
Mark Covell continues: “We left the dock waving goodbye to a large group of spectators who had turned out to send us on our way. Then we were followed out to our city start line by a couple of local boats. We are in about 15 knots of wind heading South. When we reach Cape Leeuwin, we will re-cross our finish line from Leg 3, and then pick up our Indian Oceans 5 Capes Race course, and turn and head northwards up towards Singapore. We should reach the line in the early hours of the morning, which is a shame as we wanted to see the Cape Leeuwin lighthouse. It’s one of the three major Southern Ocean Capes, along side Cape Agulhas and Cape Horn.”
The 15-day stopover has seen a lot of activity aboard Majan, with some technical refinements being implemented, but mostly an impressive array of guests, spectators and VIPs turning up to see the giant trimaran up-close and to learn more about the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race ahead of the first official race planned for 2012. On the public side, people were invited to view Majan at the Fremantle Sailing Club. Crew member Mohammed Al Ghailani was there: “By 4pm groups of individuals and families started arriving; it was beyond our expectations. Over 150 people came to see Majan and were shown onboard! The amazing turn out of individuals, families, teenagers, children and professional sailors actually made our day. Every one was impressed not only with Majan, but with our beautiful country and the vision and mission of Oman Sail as a project. It made me so proud being part of this race and representing my country. It has also confirmed to me that the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race is not just a race, it’s a unique race linking nations and humans from different races and cultures, making this world a better place.”
Coming back to Fremantle after a well-deserved break in Oman with his family, Mark Covell consigned his impressions in his blog: “My first impressions are that the boat has been tweaked and perfected taking Majan even closer to race spec (…) The next few days it’s all about the media,” he added. Reporters and press from Fremantle’s broadcast and print media took up the opportunity to sail on the A100 including Channel 10 News, ABC Radio and the West Australian: “We have invited an eclectic mix of Australia’s travel, yachting and consumer media to sample the dynamic sailing experience of Majan. From two scheduled sails we ended up with 3! 18 guests experienced a sail on an A100!” Mona Tannous, Manager of Oman Tourism in Australia & New Zealand was one of the guests in Fremantle. “The first group of guests have just come off the boat, totally raving about the experience. I myself was dumbfounded yesterday when I finally saw her in ‘real life’ so to speak,” she said.
Next port of call… Singapore, where hopefully the giant trimaran and her crew will receive a welcome as warm as the one they just experienced in Australia!
Leg 4 preview – Cape Leeuwin / Cape Piai
Majan will have to re-cross the longitude of Cape Leeuwin in order to get the clock ticking on that fourth leg, since the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course is strictly a “cape to cape” affair! As Sidney Gavignet explains, “It will take us a good 10 hours to get there, with the wind on the nose. It will not be very fun, but it’s good to study the behaviour of the boat upwind. The following portion should be more pleasant, with downwind conditions for a few days. From Sunday night, the breeze seems to vanish. The end of the leg might be a bit on the quiet side.” Majan will head North, leaving Australia to starboard before taking the Sunda Strait, separating Java and Sumatra then crossing the Equator and finally arriving in Singapore. The initial ETA is between the 19th and the 21st of April…
Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ arrived in Fremantle the 24th of March 2010 at 10:00 (Local Time – 2:00 am GMT), after having crossed the longitude of Cape Leeuwin, the third cape of the Indian 5 Ocean Capes Race and the finish line of Leg 3 on Monday, 22nd of March at 04:10 GMT. It has been yet another eventful leg for the A100 trimaran and her crew as they trace out this new race course ahead of the official edition in 2012, and an Indian Ocean crossing that will leave its mark durably on the minds of the Oman Sail team members.
For most sailors, even the most seasoned ones, the odds of one day getting to the very top of the Beaufort scale are quite low. But “thanks” to the Indian Ocean’s wrath, Majan’s men have been through a hurricane on their way to Cape Leeuwin and as Mark Covell puts it, “The experience of 70+ knots is now something that will stay with us for the rest of our lives.” It might be hard to figure out seen from dry land, but winds that strong and the resulting sea state definitely give the term of “survival” its legitimacy, both for men and machine. The A100, designed to withstand the fiercest conditions on all the world’s oceans, has proven its worth and the teams who have worked on her build and assembly, both at BoatSpeed Australia and at Oman Sail’s dedicated facility, should today feel very proud of the work carried out. Majan’s crew led by Paul Standbridge and including Sidney Gavignet who will go on to race in the solo Route du Rhum this November on ‘Majan’, relied on the boat to make it through the hurricane, and as they made it safely back ashore it is thanks to their outstanding seamanship, but also thanks to the inherent reliability and seaworthiness of the trimaran.
One can only imagine the unspoken anguish, the heavy silences, the anxious glances at the mast, the shrouds or the beams connecting floats and central hull – “Please don’t break!”, can we easily imagine the sailors silently addressing the boat whilst she was taking a major beating. In that kind of situation, each wave slamming on the structure and each gust taking the rigging to unprecedented stress levels is physically felt by the crew, with that horribly sinking feeling that yes, the breaking point is near – and if things break, there goes the solid ground under your feet. On a multihull, that feeling is amplified by the awareness that flipping over can be easily done without great seamanship… the boat heels at the top of 8 to 10-metre waves, and there’s no lead bulb to keep her upright. The magic of flying machines does have its drawbacks, and multis have, as Loïck Peyron once put it, that “strange tendency to be much more stable capsized than upright”. Quite a scary thought when you’re thousands of miles away from land.
The fury of the elements was bound to take its toll on the Omani crew – Mohsin Al Busaidi may be the first Arab to sail non-stop round the world but the most breeze he saw was 55 knots and for offshore ‘novice’ Mohammed Al Ghailani, he was certainly not lost for words when it was time to describe the experience: “I felt very scared at first. All the parts coming together were too much for me. The wind, the rain, the noise all built up, I didn’t like it. I sat in the cockpit with Mike and Paul. They made me feel much better because they were okay and not frightened. I was in all my wet whether gear and I still felt cold and wet. When I took it off later I was dry but the water in the air made me feel soaking wet and cold. I didn’t sleep at all on my off watch and that always makes things hard.”
11 days, 18 hours and 48 minutes after having crossed the starting line of Leg 3 in Cape Town, Majan cut through an imaginary line south of Cape Leeuwin, the southwestern tip of Australia. They had to cope – somewhat ironically – with a light patch on the final stretch towards Fremantle, just after turned the “left indicator” on. Fortunately the breeze picked up rapidly and by early afternoon (GMT) the crew was back at more than 16 knots, looking forward to a decent hot meal and a night in a comfortable bed, with its four fleet firmly planted on the floor!
Located 12 miles southwest of Perth, at the entrance of the Swan River, Fremantle was established in 1829 and is renowned for its quality of life. With its active fishing port, the city offers a wide variety of restaurants and seafood cafés, and its cultural life also attracts a lot of visitors. Official stopover of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race, Fremantle has a strong nautical tradition, having hosted the 1987 America’s Cup and will next year welcome the ISAF Sailing World Championships.
Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran ‘Majan’ has been battling hurricane force winds in the Southern Ocean on leg 3 of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race en route to the next stop over in Fremantle, Australia. The six-man crew led by Paul Standbridge including new recruit Sidney Gavignet and two Omani crew, who are tracing out this new course ahead of the official race in 2012, have had their mettle tested to the limit in these ferocious conditions. ‘Majan’ left Cape Town on 10th March and are approximately 2,300 miles into the 4,600-mile leg, with another 5-6 days before arriving in Fremantle. Read Mark Covell’s log below which expertly describes the force of the Southern Ocean in all its fury…
It’s been a long couple of days. As I woke the first day of this storm Paul, Mohammed and Mike were on watch. The sky was grey with driving rain that stung your face. The wind was around 45 knots touching 55 in the gusts. The noise resembled a badly tuned television, on full volume, hissing out white noise.
The waves were mostly broadside, hitting us on our starboard (right) hull and sending the sea water high in the sky, then cascading down over the boat. Occasionally, we would be lifted by the top of a wave and slammed by another, resulting in a sudden shunt sideways. It felt like King Neptune had cupped us in his hand, lobbed us in the air and whacked us out of court with his watery tennis racket.
Although admittedly both nervous at times, (as I think we all were at times), Mohsin and Mohammed handled the conditions very well. Mohsin had seen 51 knots in the Cook Straits on his last voyage round the world, but had never experienced anything like yesterday before. He commented on how well Majan had handled the wind and the waves. “When I started to feel scared I just touched the boat with my hands and immediately felt better – as Majan felt so solid.”
If you weren’t holding on tight you were smack, bang on the floor, for sure. Most of the crew were tipped out of their bunks a few times. Eventually everyone gave up, and found some place on the cabin floor to sleep – wedged onto a beanbag or nestled between a bulkhead and the engine block. The tighter the space the less damage you did to yourself, in your sleep!
Meanwhile, the roaring wind had started to growl as we saw more and more gusts up in the 60-knot zone. The waves seemed to flatten and grow long silver manes of white spume that flowed out behind the wave face. In fact, all the waves were doing were ‘hunkering down’ and forming a more powerful and solid stance to shoulder us sideways – and more frequently.
The air was now constantly full of sharp, biting spray. Every one lung-full you took of breath, you spat out a two mouthfuls of brine. It was time to reduce sail and slow down some more. Down came the J3 beautifully flaking itself as it dropped. Next was to reef the mainsail down from the size of a squash court to the size of a table tennis table. Dropping the sails is a very noisy, wet exercise, exerting yet more shaking on the boat as even these much-reduced sized sails flap violently in the process.
So why were we getting a good ‘dressing down’ like this in this low pressure system? For the initial part of this leg we had not been able to find the strong winds that normally send you fast across the roaring 40s to Australia. So when we saw this low on the weather charts, we ducked back up to ride the low south and get under a big high pressure sitting in our way. We had to sail deep into the storm front to hook up with the ride.
It was like stepping out into a fast moving motorway, getting run down, then hitching a lift with the truck that ran you over. We then drove into the other side of the low, take the flick flack wind change, waves and wind going in different directions, and then drive south east, heading us towards Cape Leeuwin and Fremantle. It was a crazy ride, but it paid off well.
The gybe was interesting because the winds were up in the high 60’s and gusting to 70! We are all impressed with how Majan has performed.
There is a B&G (electronic navigational) display in the media station that read over 70 knots. We were happy that it was dark so I didn’t need to go out side and try to film the madness. So Mohammed suggested I just film the red B&G display instead, and keep with my lap belt firmly pulled tight to keep me off the ceiling!
In breathtaking style the giant A100 Trimaran ‘Majan’ shot across the Capes Race just off Table Bay harbour’s breakwater at exactly midday (12:00 Local time) today to track a course down south to the treacherous seas of the Southern Ocean for her next stop in Fremantle, Australia.start line of the third leg of the 5
With skipper Paul Standbridge, one of the world’s top sailors and the former manager of noon day gun from Cape Town’s landmark Signal Hill, the magnificent speed machine, which has utterly captivated Capetonians during her brief stay in the city, quickly built pace of over 23 knots in a brisk 14 knot south westerly breeze and dark rain threatening skies.’s America’s Cup Team Shosholoza, at the helm, and the start perfectly timed to coincide with the daily firing of the
On the crew is world famous French round the world sailor Sidney Gavignet,crack French America’s Cup sailor Thierry Douillard, former Team Shosholoza sailor Michael Giles from Port Elizabeth, Omani sailor Mohsin Al Busaidi who became the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world last year, Mohammed Al Ghailani a young Omani trainee sailorand Olympic sailor Mark Covell who is the media crew on board.
Earlier the crew of Majan were given a rousing dockside farewell from family, newly made local friends and young sailors from the Izivunguvungu Foundation for Youth in Simonstown who were thrilled to tour the yacht and meet the crew just minutes before they cast off.
Cape Town is a designated as the first stopover for the race which is planned in 2012. Conceived by OC Events and campaigned by Oman Sail, the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race will be the first ever yacht race to link the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Asia and the first ever race of its kind in the Indian Ocean.
It will feature “city start lines” in Muscat, Cape Town, Fremantle (Australia) and Singapore and five “Cape” finish lines – Cape Ras Al Hadd off Oman, southernmost point of Mainland Asia, just west of Singapore and Cape Comorin on the southern tip of India. This next leg to Fremantle which will involve racing across the frozen and treacherous Southern Ocean will be one of the most exhilarating and dangerous of the course, before reaching the warmth of Cape Leeuwin and Australia’s west coast., the most southerly point of Africa, on South West Australia, Cape Piai, the
For sailors, the Southern Ocean is the vague term for the Southern Seas and the underworld where no land separates the oceans.
Below 40 degrees of latitude, a series of low pressure systems continuously ‘roar’ and move towards the east without being blocked by any land mass. Down there, the crew of Majan will find themselves in the Grey World – one of the most remote and dangerous parts of the planet.
Writing on his blog while at sea soon after the start Mohsin Al Busaidi said: “As we waved goodbye to the new friends we made in Cape Town, it was time to mentally prepare ourselves for the toughest leg yet to Fremantle, Australia. It’s an overcast, warm day. The wind is light, around 8 knots. We’re heading south out of Table Bay. The mood onboard is a mixture of excitement to be back on Majan and anticipation about entering the Southern Ocean – we have a great team and a great boat, it’s going to be an amazing adventure.”
The A100 trimaran ‘Majan’left Muscat, Oman, last month on 6th February and stopped briefly in the Maldives while en route to Cape Town to traces out this new course via 5 great Capes. She crossed the proposed new race finish line at Cape Agulhas – the second cape on the course – at 16:02:57 GMT, 13 days, 6 hours and 57 seconds after leaving the Maldives.
One of the best things about the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race route is that each individual leg provides its own unique challenges whether it be extreme temperatures, strong currents or gale force winds.
Either way you can guarantee that Musandam and the crew on board are going to tackle these challenges head on and with a bit of old fashioned grit and determination and come out the other side as better people and sailors for it. The first leg from Muscat to the Maldives certainly did this. With an unpleasant first night at sea to the unpredictable high pressure dominating the northern stretches of the Indian Ocean we certainly had our fair share of varying challenges. “The first challenge for me was allowing my mind and body to adapt the routine at sea”, Haitham tells me, “Once I had got used to the three hours sleeping followed by three hours on deck it became a lot smoother for me”.
For Haitham and Nawaf this is all new to them. Six months ago they both knew very little about the sailing world and as their team mate I can vouch for the excellent way they are improving and learning new things about maintaining and sailing of these powerful trimarans. Upon arrival to the Maldives, Musandam was met by an armada of support boats waving and shouting their support as the crossed the finish line off the island of Male. “Seeing all the boats welcome us here all waving the Omani flag was overwhelming and it struck home how significant our role is”. It is clear chatting with Haitham and Nawaf that the tone in their voice is one of excitement and its evident that they are thriving in the ambassadorial role that they are playing.
Since arriving in the Maldives the past few days have been spent preparing and restocking Musandam whilst also allowing some time for some rest before the next leg. Although we would all love to stay in this beautiful place, we are all itching to get back out on the water and take on the challenges that they next leg will throw at us. Next stop….Cape Town!
Blog entry by Nick Houchin aboard Musandam
On Saturday, 6th February, Oman Sail’s new A100 ‘Majan’ alongside their 75-ft multihull ‘Musandam’ will depart Muscat [Oman] to begin a new chapter in ocean racing as they embark on tracing out the route of the future Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race.
With a total distance of 16,300 nautical miles (30,200km) this new course will take the new 105-foot multihull via the Indian Ocean’s five great Capes: “Today the Atlantic is the playing field for the sailing world’s greatest oceanic races and all the round the world races start and finish in Europe. The new Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course is 100% Indian Ocean utilizing the boundaries of the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Central Asia,” said Mark Turner, CEO, OC Group, owners of OC Events (Asia). “Professional sailing races have quite naturally developed with an Atlantic flavour in line with the growth of the sport. The actual and potential of growth in the sport in the whole of Asia provides us and other events, such as the Volvo Ocean Race, with a great opportunity to develop new events like this in what are relatively unchartered waters. The launch of the new A100 class – the first being Oman Sail’s ‘Majan’ – presents us with an opportunity to develop this new race track that has both historical and sporting credibility for this class and other multihull classes, and equally commercial interest for sponsors and nations of future competing teams.”
The purpose of tracing out this new course is aimed at raising the profile of the event ahead of the first official edition planned for Spring 2012 with key stakeholder activity planned in the stopover ports of the Maldives, Cape Town, Fremantle and Singapore. ‘Majan’ with a crew of five, will depart Muscat on Saturday [6.2.10] sailing through the tropical waters of Oman past Ras al Hadd (literally ‘Cape’ in Arabic) with their bows pointing towards the Equator. After a stop in the Maldives ‘Majan’ will then head down to the tip of South Africa, crossing Cape Agulhas, and Cape Town. Racing across the frozen and treacherous Southern Ocean will be one of the most exhilarating legs of the course, before reaching the warmth of Cape Leeuwin and Australia’s west coast. From here the boats sail north to Cape Piai in the Malacca Straits close to Singapore and up to Cape Comorin at the southern tip of India before returning the welcoming shores of Oman and the starting point of the journey in Muscat.
‘Majan’ skippered by renowned sailor Paul Standbridge, and including Mohsin Al Busiadi who became the first Arab to sail round the world non-stop on board Oman Sail’s ‘Musandam’ last year, will face many different challenges en route.
‘Majan’, the ancient name of the Sultanate of Oman, is Oman Sail’s new flagship and the first of the new Nigel Irens designed Arabian 100 [A100] one design class: “The main objective behind the creation of this new class is not to take on the ‘classic’ European events but to help pave the way for a thriving professional racing scene in the Gulf region and around the Indian Ocean,” commented Oman Sail CEO, David Graham. “Majan was assembled locally in Salalah and although the crew are led by Paul and two other international sailors, Mohsin has become an accomplished offshore sailor and he will be joined by Mohammed Al Ghailani, as Oman Sail continues to grow and expand the skills of the Omani sailors. There is a great national pride in the project and already other GCC nations are interested in developing similar sailing programmes and we encourage that. Ultimately, if by 2016 we had six big race boats racing on this new Indian Ocean course under the colours of different Middle East and Asian nations, for me, that would be a great achievement.”
OC Events continue to develop the sailing arena of Arabia, Asia and the Indian Ocean. Building on the foundations of the Asian Record Circuit established in 2007, and the Extreme Sailing Series Asia which is being staged this winter in Hong Kong, Singapore and Muscat, OC Events Asia launched its vision for two new premier racing events – the ‘Tour of Arabia’ and the ‘Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race’ – in November 2009.