MOD70 trimaran, Musandam-Oman Sail, the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship campaign, welcomed the news this morning from the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race committee that the start of the epic 1,800 nautical mile race would be postponed to 0900 on Monday morning due to conditions.
Sidney Gavignet, French skipper of the MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail project that is focussed on creating a generation of sailors from the Sultanate of Oman, fully supported the decision. With a 50/50 crew mix of highly experienced offshore professionals and less-experienced Omani crewmates onboard, safety is paramount and the extreme speed of the trimaran would have put the team in 45 knots for 30 hours shortly after the start – as explained by Gavignet:
'Had we started today, given the speed of the trimaran, very soon after the start we would have had more than 35knots and during the night 40knots and from Sunday night until Monday evening we would have moved with the low pressure in the centre of the North Sea which would mean that we would have had constant 40-45knots.
'Considering the risks – the boat and the people – and the fact that we are a team of mixed ability with some very experienced crew and some semi-experienced guys who are still learning the boat, we fully support the decision to postpone the race start to Monday morning.
'Looking at the weather tomorrow morning, the low pressure will decrease in terms of intensity. We will still have a chance at a very good lap, still very close to the course record but with between 15 and 35 knots which is much more manageable.'
The Oman Sail vision of using the power of sport to promote the country, to contribute to its economy and to drive the personal development of its people is ambitious but in the six years since the Sultan of Oman gave the programme his blessing, it has gathered pace at a breathtaking level and with investment, energy and meticulous planning is making a major impact on the sport worldwide.
For example, in the past 12 months, 27 athletes from Oman Sail, including 11 youngsters under 16 years of age, have represented their country in international regattas and competitions. Six of these have competed in Olympic class regattas or Extreme Sailing Series events and a further ten sailors, male and female have been earning their spurs among international fleets in M34, MOD70 and J80 events, mainly in Europe.
Tomorrow, three Omani sailors will set off on the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, representing 50% of the crew on the Oman Sail flagship MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail for the first time. They are up against some of the best sailors in the world but have a very good chance of taking line honours.
These athletes represent the tip of an iceberg for Oman and if the plan continues to evolve with such astounding results, there will be an Omani national competing for honours at Olympic level by 2020 and perhaps even a team of Omanis competing in a professional round the world race. Crew for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race
Sidney Gavignet (FRA) – skipper
Damian Foxall (IRL)
Jan Dekker (RSA)
Sami Al Shukaili (OMA)
Yassir Al Rahbi (OMA)
Fahad Al Hasni (OMA)