by Oman Sail
Sidney Gavignet, one of France’s most diverse and talented offshore sailors, and skipper of the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship MOD70 campaign Oman Air-Musandam, declared conditions last night in the Bay of Biscay the roughest ever experienced on the MOD70.
MOD70 Oman Air-Musandam
After the start in Le Havre on Thursday at 1300 CET, Sidney and co-skipper Damian Foxall (IRL) made short work of the English Channel before racing out into the Bay of Biscay that lived up to its fierce reputation. Overnight the pair, pushed to their limits in over 35 knots and huge 4-5 metre seas, elected to hug the coastline to shelter from the worst of the weather.
The Transat Jaques Vabre 2013. Le Havre - Itajai, Brazil The Oman Air Musandam MOD70 skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
As the duo reached the North Western tip of Cape Finisterre in Spain this morning we managed to reach them on the phone between tacks. Sidney was tired but upbeat:
'It is tough out here. I think the conditions last night were the toughest I have ever experienced with this boat. But we are almost free of this phase; we need to do two more tacks to get round Cape Finisterre.
'The night was really hard; there was a huge seaway so we tried to protect ourselves by hugging the coastline, finally reducing sail to the third reef and the third jib (the small headsail). The boat was literally taking off and we were not going very fast.
Musandam MOD70 trimaran skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA). Shown here as they race down the Solent and past the Needles
'It is very hard to get any sleep; being so close to the coast, the one that is not helming is navigating. We have hardly slept at all. We are tired, but as soon as we get past the Cape, things will improve quite quickly. We will be doing a straight line south and we will be able to get some rest.
'Our immediate goal is to win back the eight nautical miles that we lost to Edmond de Rothschild overnight. At the moment, we can’t see them; they must be about 10nms ahead of us.
'Conditions are improving; at the moment we have 27 knots – an improvement on the 36 knots and very big waves that we had when I was last up on deck earlier this morning.
The Transat Jaques Vabre 2013. Le Havre - Itajai, Brazil The Oman Air Musandam MOD70 co skipper Damian Foxall (IRL)
At the moment, the boat is in good shape, the manpower less so, but we’ll be able to recover shortly!'
The match race with Edmond de Rothschild – the other MOD70 in the class – is living up to expectations; the two boats are neck and neck with 4,799 nautical miles to go to Itajaii in Brasil for Oman Air-Musandam!