Fresh from their success in achieving a first ever podium position at the famous Tour de France a la Voile, the crew of Musandam-Oman Sail will shift focus this weekend when they swap one hull for three ahead of their ambitious MOD70 campaign in British waters this summer.
For the past month, Oman Sail skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and a mixed squad of Omani and European sailors have been at the centre of a tough series of inshore and offshore races around the French coast in conditions that varied from very light to downright stormy and produced their best performance since they first entered the event in 2008 by finishing third.
'We had a tough Tour de France, but pulled it off in the end through good team work, our squad really pulled together and we are very happy with the result!' said Sidney Gavignet.
Oman Sail's MOD70 Musandam races in the Eckernförde race at Kiel week 2014, 21-06-2014, Kiel - Germany. - Sander Van Der Borch
The team is looking forward to the next challenges, this time around the British coast, starting with the 2014 Artemis Challenge at Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week in the Solent followed by the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, where a line honours win is the goal.
Musandam-Oman Sail’s team has always featured Omani talent but for the first time ever, half of the six-strong offshore crew will be from the Sultanate, all of them having had their skills and careers nurtured through Oman Sail’s unique development programme.
They include MOD regular Fahad Al Hasni plus Sami Al Shukaili and Yassir Al Rahbi, members of Oman Sail’s M34 campaign for the Tour de France a la Voile who switched to the MOD70 earlier this year.
'Cowes last year was a highlight of our calendar,' said Fahad Al Hasni. 'We are really looking forward to this year’s edition and particularly to the Round Britain – it is going to be a big challenge but also a landmark moment in our Omani sailors’ careers with a 50% Omani crew onboard for the first time.'
Damian Foxall (IRL) on Oman Sail's MOD70 Musandam during Kiel week 2014, 22-06-2014, Kiel - Germany. - Sander Van Der Borch
Co-skipper Damian Foxall from Ireland, who will skipper the MOD70 for the Artemis Challenge, will also be bringing his expertise to the campaign along with Jan Dekker, the highly regarded America’s Cup and Volvo Ocean Race veteran from South Africa.
Their inspiration will be Gavignet’s Round Britain and Ireland non-stop singlehanded record set in 2010 on the 105ft Trimaran, Oman Air Majan while three days, three hours 49 minutes and 14 seconds set by Loick Peyron's Banque Populaire 5 in 2011, will be the time to aim for, if conditions allow.
'We are looking forward to the Round Britain, it is a challenging race and will be the last crewed race for us before I turn to solo training for the Route du Rhum at the end of the year,' said Gavignet.
The large Omani contingent on board Musandam-Oman Sail will be matched by a sizeable one shore-side as the Oman tourism exhibition rolls into town, to showcase the Sultanate and provide a taste of what tourists can expect when they visit.
Oman Sail's hospitality tent during Kiel week 2014, 22-06-2014, Kiel - Germany. - Sander Van Der Borch
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2013. Images showing customers inside the Visit Oman tent. - Mark Lloyd
Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week 2013. Images showing the Visit Oman tent. - Mark Lloyd
The Ministry of Tourism and Oman Sail will host an exhibition pavilion on the waterfront in Cowes for the duration of the world’s most celebrated sailing regatta, complete with a stunning presentation of images, produce and customs from Oman including the traditional – and ever popular – henna artistry.
Musandam-Oman Sail will attend every day of Aberdeen Asset Management Cowes Week from August 2-9 as part of its UK corporate hospitality programme and will race around the Isle of Wight in the Artemis Challenge on August 7, which as in previous years is set to feature an array of celebrities from the world of sport and film.