Oman Sail unveils ambitious summer sailing programme for 2014

The Oman Sail M34 training in France prior to the 2013 season starting picture shows Mohamed Al Makhrini(OMA) bowman
© Lloyd Images
Sidney Gavignet, skipper of Oman Sail and a mixed Omani and European 12-man squad will make a bid on both the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland and the Tour de France a la Voile titles in 2014 as part of an intensive summer’s racing in Europe on the MOD70 flagship, supported by the Ministry of Tourism of Oman, and the M34 to continue developing an Omani sailing squad.

Fresh from a win in the popular EFG Sailing Arabia-The Tour, Gavignet is turning his attention to training and racing around France and Britain, taking part in a total of eight different events between April and August and rotating members of Oman Sail’s 12-strong squad to build further on skills and performances.

The Oman Air MOD70 - Musandam skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA)
© Lloyd Images
The squad will comprise some of Oman’s best-known offshore sailors including Nasser Al Mashari (who just won the Extreme Sailing Series Act 2 with the team on The Wave, Muscat), Ali Al Balushi who returns for another Tour de France a la Voile, Mohammed Mubarak Al Makrini, Mohammed Al Mujaini and Fahad Al Hasni who is a regular on the MOD70.

The Omanis will be joined by a mix of Irish and French sailors who once again are familiar faces in Oman Sail teams; they feature Cedric Pouligny, Oman Sail’s skipper in three previous Tour de France a la Voile campaigns, Shane Hugues, Alex Pallu, Guillaume Berenger, Gilles Favennec, Damien lehl and well-known Irish sailor, Damian Foxall who most recently raced under Omani colours during the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre with Sidney.

Gavignet already has a Tour de France a la Voile trophy in his cabinet. He won it in 1996 as part of the Edouard Leclerc – Région SCASO crew. He came second the year before on Brut de Faberge and last competed in 1998 when he came fifth on Le Pradet/DCN.

'I would hope we can get a podium place in the Tour,' he said, breaking off from M34 training in France. 'If we can get on the podium, it would be a great result for Oman Sail. We are aiming to build an elite squad made up of Omani and European sailors and as a team, we hope to improve on previous results.'

Oman Air - Musandam MOD70
© Lloyd Images

Results from the M34 contests at Spi Ouest France, Grand Prix Guyader in May, Normandy Sailing Week then Tour de France a Voile will serve as both development and performance benchmarks for the team.

The MOD70 programme, starting with work up events, Grand Prix Guyader and Armen race in France in May, also includes corporate sailing at Kiel Week, the Artemis Challenge during Cowes Week and culminates in the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race that starts just over a week after the end of the Tour de France a la Voile, in August.

'Even if there isn’t the kind of MOD70 racing we have had in previous years, sailing this multihull is still a challenge,' said Gavignet. 'Being able to sail a very fast boat well is a very useful development experience for our Omani sailors. The best possible scenario this summer would be to win the Seven Star Round Britain and Ireland Race on corrected time and to gain a place on the podium in the Tour de France a la Voile. That would be perfect.

'The MOD70 is very different from the M34 so by the end of the summer, we should see some real improvements in the squad,' he said.

The Oman Sail M34 training in France prior to the 2013 season starting
© Lloyd Images

In addition to its MOD70 and M34 campaigns, Oman Sail will continue to develop its fledgling Women’s Sailing Programme with a girls team on the J80 European circuit between April and July. The girls squad will include regulars Ibtisam Al Salmi, Raiya Al Habsi and Raja Al Owaisi who will be joined by Nashwa Al Kindi one of the Oman Sail female instructors who most recently completed a trans ocean crossing with Hilary Lister, and British Olympic sailor Mary Rook. For Spi Ouest, an all-Omani male crew will race alongside the girls on a J80; the team will include Fahad Al Hasni, Nasser Al Mashari, Ali Al Balushi and Sami Al Shukily.

Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014

MOD70 programme


2-5 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez, France
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

M34 programme

17-21 April: Spi Ouest, France
8-11 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez, France
9-15 June: Normandy Sailing Week, France
4-28 July: Tour de France a la Voile

J80 programme

17-21 April: Spi Ouest, France
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
http://www.sail-world.com/120727