Saturday, 2 October 2010

Races Around Islands... Part Two A: Round Britain and Ireland Against the Clock

Oman Air Majan: Arabian 100 Trimaran - in preparation for the Route du Rhum




Sidney Gavignet. Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

by Anne Hinton

“My main aim before the Route du Rhum is to focus on sailing singlehanded. I don’t need to practice boat speed, as I am confident that I can get the best out of the boat, but I need to practice sailing singlehanded as it is a very different discipline from crewed racing. This record [round Britain and Ireland] is not only a great challenge but being such a coastal route, it will give me some crucial navigational experience onboard and provide a real challenge for me mentally and physically, with the overall aim to push myself,” said Oman Air Majan Skipper Sidney Gavignet, prior to making an attempt on Playstation's Round Britain and Ireland crewed outright record time of 4 days 16 hours 9 minutes and 36 seconds, and the slightly longer singlehanded record time set by Sodebo.

Sidney Gavignet became involved with Oman Sail after doing the Transat Jacques Vabres on Artemis last year with Sam Davies. Initial discussions mentioned the Tour de France a la Voile, but then Oman Sail became interested in doing the Route du Rhum. In a chance phone conversation with Oman Sail CEO David Graham, Gavignet put in “I’m not a good profile, but if you want to do the Route du Rhum then I would raise my finger.” His offer was taken up with alacrity!

Paul Standbridge from Britain is Oman Air Majan's normal skipper - for setting the new race course around the Indian Ocean, for example - and Sidney first stepped on board at the Cape Town stop on that trip. In this case, there was a crew of 7 people, 3 of whom were Omanis, one of the Omanis being Mohsin, the first Omani to circumnavigate the world the previous year in the former B&Q trimaran, later renamed Musandam.


Sidnet Gavignet at the wheel of Oman Air Majan. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

"I am a racer; I don't cruise," said Gavignet, "so I still pushed hard around the Indian Ocean." The Omanis appreciated racing, while for Sidney, teaching them became a new-found ability, and one that Sidney welcomes with open arms. "My job makes sense when I share it," he says. "If I share it, it means that we make some people dream... It is important to fill people with dreams. I feel very well with this campaign because I am more able than with any other sponsor to share."

However, the record attempt around Britain and Ireland is preparation for the Route du Rhum - racing solo from St Malo, France, to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe - so he is sailing singlehanded around Britain and Ireland too. "I'm the skipper and manager, and need to manage the team. I am very happy with the shore team, put together by the shore manager. I made them work like they've never worked before, until 3 at night, over the two weeks that we did the refit. This was totally new work, especially for the Omanis. It's a singlehanded race, but it's a team effort. It's about boat preparation. With this boat they didn't have a goal before and now they really fight for it in a really nice spirit. I enjoy the sport and the managing. We had people from all over the world coming in for the refit - from the USA, Australia, Sweden, New Zealand, ... I really enjoyed that." [Note from SailRaceWin: Oman Air Majan was initially over-spec'd, increasing her all-up weight substantially above the expected figure (by about 5 tonnes). It is understood that a 500kg weight saving was made as a result of the recent re-fit.]


Sidney Gavignet. Image copyright Mark Lloyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

What of Sidney's chances in the Route du Rhum? "I am aiming to do the best race I could. The reality is that there are five big new recent boats and then there are some others that are second division. Among those five boats, four boats have foils - Groupama, Sodebo, Gitana and IDEC. Francis Joyon (IDEC) is the round the world singlehanded record holder, while Thomas Colville (Sodebo) is the record holder for 24 hours singlehanded and across the Atlantic. For the round Britain and Ireland speed record attempt, I am trying to beat Playstation's [fully crewed] record."

After this record attempt, Sidney will concentrate on getting used to singlehanded sailing concentrating on night sailing to organise his sleep and eating patterns. He has done the Volvo Ocean Race several times, including the 2008-9 edition on PUMA.

It must have been difficult to work in France, where wine appears at every meal, for the Omanis who come from a non-alcohol drinking culture, no? Sidney has a surprising answer to this: "For the Route du Rhum I stopped alcohol and my next alcohol will be rum in Guadeloupe, and I stopped coffee as well, for singlehanded sailing and resting well. It fits well with the project, as I take on the culture a little.


Route of the Route du Rhum race. Image copyright Route du Rhum/Oman Sail.

"Emotions change with drink after drink. If you don't drink, you stay at the same level, and then you are out of the game with those who do, so you don't stay with them. For sure, it's different, but it goes with the country."

The Omani sailors were also introduced to a British singlehanded round the world sailor, Sam Davies, who did the delivery trip from Oman to Lorient with the crew. " 'Are you inspired by this little lady who went around the world on her own?' I asked the Omanis, " said Sidney. "For them it is inspiring to see that a woman did something that it's impossible for them to do at the moment; inspiring and impressive, and it should change their vision as well as some moment. The education and culture is so far from ours that it can be difficult. You have to accept that it's very different and we have our own point of visions." [The Oman Sail programme does include girls, but when they get to marriagable age, there is a tendency for them to switch from sailing into office positions, at present. Shirley Robertson has also been out to Oman, paying visits to schools, to inspire future Omani women.]

On board Oman Air Majan in images: down below and up above...

Omani sailors are directly engaged in the project, and there was a crew of six people, including Omanis, when we sailed Oman Air Majan on the Solent in early August:


Back row, l-r: Mohsin Al Busaidi and Loik Gallon. Front row, l-r: Rudi Steiness, Paul Standbridge, Abdullah Al Farsi and Sidney Gavignet. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Down below... Inside the main cabin there is a hole in the floor on the starboard side with steps down to the lower level. Down below it is fairly dark, except for the light let in by a few portholes, and definitely stuffy!


View out of the starboard porthole, looking aft. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


View out of the starboard porthole, looking forward. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


View out of the port porthole. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Looking up at the cabin roof from the lower level: lots of windows to let light in. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Looking forward from inside the cabin. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Cabin from starboard, outside. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Looking down the port side of the cabin. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Starboard side in front of the cabni, looking forward. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


From the same location, looking up. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Starboard trampoline. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Starboard side aft of the cabin entrance; Mohsin making adjustments. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Mohsin trimming and Abdullah in the cockpit aft of the cabin, ready to grind. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


View from the wheel, on port tack. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

True to his interest in sharing, Sidney Gavignet had me on the wheel of Oman Air Majan. While there is never so much feel with wheel steering as with a tiller, the experience of helming Oman Air Majan both in a straight line (at up to over 20 knots boatspeed) and through tacks and gybes was that she had a light feel - something like power steering with a large vehicle, but lighter.


View from the wheel, on starboard tack. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


Beneath the boom, starboard side of the cabin, looking forward. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Images from up the mast - taken in great haste after Sidney said "You have one minute to get down!"


From about halfway up the mast - looking down to the aft port side of the boat, with two passengers and Sidney Gavignet at the wheel. Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.


From about halfway up the mast - looking down to the forward starboard side of the boat (my leg is wrapped around the luff of the mainsail - between the main and the mast!). Image copyright Anne Hinton - all rights reserved.

Oman Air Majan had old sails up when I was on board, but official photographer Mark Lloyd had the latest branded designs, as used for the Round Britain and Ireland Record...

Oman Air Majan's cabin (upstairs)


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Sidney Gavignet sleeping upstairs in the cabin. Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

... and on the outside


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.


Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Oman Air Majan - Round Britain and Ireland Record

Code Green for Oman Air Majan to attempt singlehanded round Britain and Ireland record

by Lucy Harwood

Sidney Gavignet, skipper of the Arabian 100 trimaran Oman Air, crossed the start line off the Lizard Point, Cornwall UK at 17:54:08 GMT on 19th August 2010 as he attempts to break the single-handed Round Britain and Ireland record [NB in interview with Anne Hinton, Sidney made it clear that it was the crewed record of Playstation - in a shorter time - that he was really aiming to beat.]. The record attempt forms part of his training for the single handed transatlantic Route du Rhum race later this year.

The current single-handed record for the 1,802 nautical mile lap of Britain and Ireland stands at 6 days 6 hours 40 minutes and 31 seconds, which was set by fellow Frenchman Thomas Coville onboard his trimaran Sodebo in 2006. In order to beat his record, Sidney needs to maintain an average boat speed of above 11.86 knots.

The record route will see him head anti clockwise around Britain and Ireland finishing once again at Lizard Point. The weather team are currently predicting a slow start to the attempt, with light westerly winds, however the breeze is set to build from the south-west to provide 20 – 25 knot reaching conditions on the first night.

“My main aim before the Route du Rhum is to focus on sailing single handed. I don’t need to practice boat speed, as I am confident that I can get the best out of the boat, but I need to practice sailing single-handed as it is a very different discipline from crewed racing. This record is not only a great challenge but being such a coastal route, it will give me some crucial navigational experience onboard and provide a real challenge for me mentally and physically, with the overall aim to push myself,” Oman Air Skipper Sidney Gavignet.

Oman Air arrived in the French port of Loreint in July, after a delivery from her home port of Muscat in Oman. The team have been busy preparing for the up coming record attempt and training period ahead of the Route Du Rhum. It has been non –stop for the Omani team following the announcement of a title sponsor in the form of the national airline of the Sutanate, Oman Air. A complete re-brand of the trimaran followed, as well as switching the boat from her fully crewed setup to single handed racing.

The Round Britain and Ireland record attempt has seen a complete change in the setup onboard Oman Air, skipper Sidney has managed to save almost 500 kg by removing unnecessary items such as computer screens, the generator and the galley. Newly designed 3DL sails have arrived and been fitted, whilst Sidney and the team have been waiting on standby for the record attempt. Sidney commented ahead of the attempt, “The boat has a new sponsor and we are setup and ready to go. I have wanted to take on this record for some time and with the Route Du Rhum fast approaching my departure dates are limited. I have been working closely with the weather routers and the forecasts look good so it has to be now! I hope the weather conditions give me a good chance me to beat Thomas Coville’s record, which he set almost exactly four years ago. The coast of Britain is roughly half the length of the Route du Rhum, and it is a difficult coast to navigate. I am sure this is going to be a huge challenge with little time for sleep”.

Day 3 Update from Oman Air Majan

by Lucy Harwood

Oman Air continues to make good progress heading north towards the Shetland Isles. Skipper Sidney Gavignet is preparing to head into a big low pressure system which will see him tackle forecasted gusts of over 40 knots. It is a fine balance for Sidney in order to push hard and maintain a good boatspeed, whilst knowing when to back off and be conservative to keep the boat safe.

Sidney needs to beat Thomas Coville’s average speed of 11.84 knots, at present Oman Air is maintaining an average boat speed of 16 knots.

"Today is the first morning under the cliffs of Scotland, and it very is nice. We had a good night onboard, but I am definitely feeling tired today, the second night is often hard to get through. We are cruising along now, the seas state is a bit rough and we are preparing for the big low pressure system ahead of us. As a result we are slowing down a little, but we are very lucky with the current and as a result we are sailing along nicely at a good 17 knots of boat speed. Hopefully it should allow me some time to get a bit of rest. I didn't sleep much last night, as I had to keep a close eye on the shipping traffic, that’s one of the biggest challenges with this record, so I can't complain. The low pressure system is waiting for me up there in the Shetland Isles and we should meet it tonight," said Sidney Gavignet.

Sidney Day 3 (in French):


Day 4 Update from on board

by Lucy Harwood

It is Day 4 onboard Oman Air Majan, and for skipper Sidney Gavignet the record pace remains. Oman Air has turned the corner and is now west of the British Isles after passing through one of the biggest low pressure systems on this trip so far.

Update from Sidney onboard last night:
"So here we are!!!!! 30 minutes before rounding the north of Shetland. I am very happy, Oman Air Majan is a strong boat and all is cool here. We are sailing under three reefs and a J3 and preparing to turn the corner. We will then sail upwind for a bit as we aim south, but I say it again I AM HAPPY!"

There is big relief onboard today to have passed through the storm with no breakages. "The team have done an amazing job preapring Oman Air Majan for this record attempt. To pass through that squall with no damage shows the level of work the team have done ahead of this record, many thanks to my team onshore". At 0800 this morning, Oman Air Majan was sailing at 16 to 18 knots in relatively low north easterly conditions, forecasts suggests the wind will build as the day goes on, and Sidney hopes to reach the tip of Northern Ireland by nightfall. Oman Air Majan continues to stay on record pace and maintain an average speed over 16 knots, which is over 3 knots faster than Sodebo's average speed on the existing record. One of the biggest challenges for Sidney on this record remains sleep, "I have not slept much in the last 24 hours, maybe 2 hours total, and about the same during the previous ones! There is so much going on, and this is one of the most challemgeing coastlines to sail around so sleep is hard to get at the moment," said Sidney Gavignet.

Sidney on Day 4:


Oman Air Majan Smashes the Round Britain and Ireland Record


Sidney Gavignet punches the air in victory! Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

by Lucy Harwood

At 09:03:55 GMT 24th August 2010 skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) onboard OMAN AIR MAJAN crossed the finish line off Lizard Point, Cornwall to smash the single handed Round Britain and Ireland record. The A100 trimaran broke the existing record held by Thomas Coville by a massive 1 day 15 hours 30 minutes and 44 seconds.

Skipper Frenchman Sidney Gavignet needed to maintain an average speed over 11.86 knots in order to break the record. OMAN AIR MAJAN maintained an amazing average speed of 15.95 knots for the 1,787 miles course.

This incredible average speed has also meant that Sidney has beaten the existing fully crewed record time set by Steve Fosset onboard Paystation, by 1 hour and 7 seconds, the existing fully crewed record stands at 4 days 16 hours 9 minutes 54 seconds.

The record has seen OMAN AIR MAJAN sail 1,787 miles along one of the most challenging coastlines in the world. Sidney has tackled huge low pressure systems and seen OMAN AIR MAJAN through squalls of over 40 knots. This is the first major test for OMAN AIR MAJAN and Sidney ahead of the single handed Route du Rhum race this coming November.

"I am incredibly happy, this record around British Isles is the cherry on the cake for all team at OMAN AIR MAJAN and Oman Sail. I’ve learnt so much from the boat. We made some good sail choices and I felt really happy with the setup onboard. I still have a lot to improve, managing my sleep onboard making sure I eat enough to keep myself in the best possible shape for the challenge ahead. The Route Du Rhum is going to be a huge race for us and I need to raise the level of my performance again for this event. The record attempt was a massive challenge and I have enjoyed every minute of it. Huge congratulations to the whole team we’ve done it!” Sidney Gavignet

"The combination between Oman Air Majan and Sidney Gavignet is new & impressive. A huge well done from sunny Oman to Sidney and the superb technical & shore team behind him." David Graham CEO Oman Sail.

Reference marks of the West-east course chosen by OMAN AIR MAJAN

Total Distance: 1,785 miles

Departure Cape Lizard (49° 57,5N-5° 12 W) - Dover: 260 miles
Dover - North Sheltand /Muckle Flugga (60°52N-0°53W): 600 miles
North - Shetland - Flannan Isles/Northern Scotland: 300 miles
North Scotland - Fastnet (51°23N-9°36W): 420 miles
Fastnet - Scillies/Bishop Rock'n'roll (49°52N-6°27W): 160 miles
Scillies - Cape Lizard: 45 miles


A delighted Sidney smashes the singlehanded and fully crewed records for Round Britain and Ireland. Image copyright Mark LLoyd/Lloyd Images/Oman Sail.

Official Confirmation from the World Speed Sailing Records Council

Record: Around Great Britain and Ireland. Outright and Singlehanded World Records.

Yacht: “Oman Air Majan” 105 ft Trimaran

Name: Sidney Gavignet. FRA
Dates: 19th August to the 24th August 2010.
Start time: 17;54;08 UTC. 19/08/10

Finish time: 09;03;35. UTC 24/08/10

Elapsed time: 4 days 15 hours 9 minutes and 27 seconds

Distance: 1773NM
Average speed: 15.95 kts

Comments: Previous records:

Outright: “PlayStation” Steve Fossett USA. Oct 04. 4d 16h 9m 36s

Singlehanded: “Sodebo” Thomas Coville FRA. Aug 06. 6d 6h 40m 31s.

Oman Air Majan statistics

Length: 32 meters (105 feet)
Width: 16.50 meters (54 feet)
Largest Sail: 550 m ²
Designers: Nigel Irens - Benoit Cabaret
Built: Boatspeed, Australia (following the example B& Q/Musandam)
Assembled: Salalah, Oman

Overnight training from Lorient prior to the Route du Rhum



Sidney Gavignet Looks Forward to the Route du Rhum



Ultimate Class race entrants, Route du Rhum:

Sidney Gavignet Oman Air Majan
Gilles Lamiré Défi Cancale
Yann Guichard Gitana 11
Franck Cammas Groupama 3
Francis Joyon IDEC
Servane Escoffier Saint-Malo 2015
Thomas Coville Sodeb'O

Race starts 31st October 2010 from St Malo, Cherbourg, France.

Oman Sail
Route du Rhum

M34: Recent Images, plus Video of Dean Barker Sailing the First Boat

Latest M34 Images
The boat for the Tour de France à la Voile for the next ten years
The M34 is also the official boat of the French Team Championship, of which the Tour de France à la Voile forms part


Image copyright Archambault Boats.

The new official Tour de France à la Voile one-design was displayed at the Grand Pavois. The M34 "Drakkar", was sailed by the design office team and suppliers engineers in the bay of La Rochelle. A new set of sails was tested.
Class rules will be fixed in very next days.
15 M34 are now sold and 5 options confirmed.


Image copyright Archambault Boats.


Image copyright Archambault Boats.

Video of Dean Barker sailing the first M34:
video

Plan of the M34


Sail plan of the M34. Image copyright Archambault Boats.


Hull of the M34. Image copyright Archambault Boats.

Launch of the M34 in Dunkerque, plus sailing in the Prologue for the Tour de France à la Voile


Launch of the M34 by Dean Barker in Dunkerque, 26th June 2010. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


M34 sailing in the Prologue for the Tour de France à la Voile. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


M34 sailing in the Prologue for the Tour de France à la Voile. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


M34 sailing in the Prologue for the Tour de France à la Voile. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


M34 sailing in the Prologue for the Tour de France à la Voile. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.

Images of the first M34, Ville de Pornichet, sailing off Dunkerque


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.


Dean Barker sailing the first M34 off Dunkerque. Image copyright JM Liot/TFV.

M34 sailing off La Seyne-sur-Mer at the end of the Tour de France à la Voile 2010


Image copyright Archambault boats.

M34