Wednesday, 14 May 2014

Grand Prix Guyader : Podium finish for Oman Sail M34 against Tour de France rivals

Oman Sail M34 racing in Grand Prix Guyader. Image copyright Francois van Malleghan/Grand Prix Guyader

by Oman Sail media

Oman Sail raced onto the third step of the podium in Dunkerque last weekend at the Grand Prix Guyader, second round of the M34 French Championships, after four days of battling it out against Tour de France rivals Groupama (1st) and Courrier Dunkerque (2nd).

The event was the second of the season for the Oman Sail M34 squad and they secured a second podium finish hot on the heels of an excellent first outing for the Sultanate’s flagship Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 during the first half of the GP Guyader.

The event was a good next step towards the summer’s main event, the Tour de France a la Voile, and some of the giants of the circuit lined up in challenging conditions for the mixed inshore/offshore format that culminated in a 103nm offshore race from Treboul to Dunkerque overnight on Friday in 27knots and pouring rain.

Oman Sail M34 racing in Grand Prix Guyader. Image copyright Francois van Malleghan/Grand Prix Guyader

“It was really good to measure ourselves against our main rivals on Groupama, Courrier Dunkerque and Bretagne Credit Mutuel early on in the season,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet, who is leading a squad of Omani and European sailors for the 2014 season on the M34 for the Tour and the MOD70 programme which will culminate in the Route du Rhum in November.

“The Omani sailors onboard have made a big step forward this week. Having an intense month of training and racing on the J80, the M34 and the MOD70 and then finishing off on a high at this event has really helped to up their performance. There are still mistakes and areas to improve on for sure, but they have worked really hard and have progressed well as a team – we all have,” said Sidney.

The Oman Sail M34 crew included Damien Iehl on the helm, Sidney Gavignet on tactics and navigation, Cedric Pouligny on mainsail trim, Gilles Favennec on headsail trim, Fahad Al Hasni on the spinnaker, Mohammed Al Mujaini in the pit and Ali Al Balushi on the bow.

M34 fleet at Grand Prix Guyader. Image copyright Francois van Malleghan/Grand Prix Guyader

“This race was great in terms of our learning curve,” said Fahad Al Hasni who is fresh from two years on the MOD70, “We are shaping up as a new team and even managed to finish on the podium which wasn’t our primary goal and makes it even more satisfying. I will be making the most of my 15 days back in Oman before the next event to get stronger as these boats are very physical and working a spinnaker sheet for a month during the Tour de France is going to require a bit more strength!

“I will also work on my playbook so that I make sure what I have learnt over the last weeks remains fresh in my mind for the next regatta.”

Up next for Oman Sail is the Armen Race in La Trinite sur Mer (30 May-1 June), another opportunity to race the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail, supported by the Ministry of Tourism of Oman, and after that the squad moves back to the M34 for Normandy Sailing Week (9-15 June), their final training platform before July’s main event.

Oman Sail M34. Image copyright Francois van Malleghan/Grand Prix Guyader

Grand Prix Guyader 2014 – final results

1/ Groupama 12 points (1/1/1/2/1/2/2)
2/ Courrier Dunkerque 18 points (2/2/2/1/2/4/1)
3/ Oman Sail 30 points (4/4/4/4/3/1/4)
4/ Bretagne Crédit Mutuel 30 points (3/3/3/3/4/3/3)
5/ Toulon Provence Méditerranée COYCH 48 points (6/5/DNS/5/5/5/5)
6/ Nantes Saint Nazaire 57 points (5/6/5/6/DNF/DNC/DNC)

Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014

MOD70 programme
  • 30 May-1 June: Armen Race, La Trinite sur Mer, France
  • 21-29 June: Kiel Week, Germany
  • 2-9 August: Artemis Challenge, Cowes Week, UK
  • 10-14 August: Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race
  • 2 November: Route du Rhum
M34 programme
  • 9-15 June: Normandy Sailing Week, France
  • 4-28 July: Tour de France a la Voile 
J80 programme
  • 28-31 May: Grand Prix Ecole Navale, France
  • 9-15 June: Normandy Sailing Week, France
  • 27 June-4 July: J80 European Championships, Spain (TBC)
Oman Sail MOD70 and M34 squad 2014
  • Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
  • Damian Foxall (IRL)
  • Fahad Al Hasni (OMA)
  • Mohammed Al Mujaini (OMA)
  • Ali Al Balushi (OMA)
  • Sami Al Shukily (OMA)
  • Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA)
  • Cedric Pouligny (FRA)
  • Gilles Favennec (FRA)
  • Nasser Al Mashari (OMA)
  • Damien Iehl (FRA) – M34 only
  • Alex Pallu (FRA) – M34 only
  • Guillaume Beranger (FRA) – M34 only