Oman Sail, the Sultanate of Oman’s national initiative that uses the power of sport to contribute to the development of young Omanis, announced its entry to the 2014 edition of the Route du Rhum, one of France’s greatest offshore races, today at a media event in Paris.
Oman Sail will compete onboard the country’s flagship MOD70, skippered by French offshore sailor Sidney Gavignet.
Oman Air - Musandam MOD70. Skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) - © Lloyd Images
This will be Oman’s second entry to the legendary race from St Malo to Pointe-a-Pitre in Guadeloupe, their first in 2010 ended abruptly with a breakage in the early stages of the race, but Sidney Gavignet who has numerous offshore miles under his belt, including most recently the Transat Jacques Vabre two-handed race across the Atlantic – which he also did on the MOD70 – is eager to have another go and proud to be representing Oman again: 'The last edition for me remains an amazing memory and to have a chance to do it again is a great honour. Growing up sailing in Annecy, the Route du Rhum was always The race that made me dream.'
Arrival MOD 70 Oman Air Musandam, with Sidney Gavignet (FRA) and Damian Foxall (IRL) - Transat Jacques Vabre 2013 in Itajai, Brazil, on 18th November 2013 - Vincent Curutchet / DPPI
And the objective is that it will also make young Omani sailors dream. As Oman Sail CEO, David Graham, explains: 'The Musandam-Oman Sail MOD70 campaign is the pinnacle of the Oman Sail sailing development programme. We are very proud to be competing in the Route du Rhum, such an important benchmark event in France, under Omani colours, and while we do not have an Omani sailor on the boat this time, competing in such a prestigious offshore event will help us with our sailing awareness campaign back home in Oman. Racing the Route du Rhum will encourage and inspire our young Omani sailors to aim high with their ambitions.'
The Oman Sail equal opportunity project runs sailing programmes for thousands of young Omani men and women and encompasses a national sailing squad and high achieving inshore and offshore racing teams, including the MOD70, the Extreme Sailing Series, the M34 and J80, all of which benefit from world-class coaching. The initiative’s ultimate goal is to win an Olympic medal for Oman and it has young Omani athletes training in the Olympic performance programme on the 49er, Laser and RSX.
Oman Sail has pledged to teach 70,000 Omani children to sail by 2020 at eight sailing schools around the country, four of which are already up and running.
Her Excellency Maitha Al Mahrouqi, Undersecretary of the Ministry of Tourism of Oman and Chairwoman of Oman Sail added her pleasure to the campaign announcement: 'The Ministry of Tourism of the Sultanate of Oman is extremely proud to support Musandam-Oman Sail, Oman Sail's MOD70, for the Route du Rhum, one of France's greatest offshore races. The giant multihull is proudly Omani and carries our flag and message of welcome to a global audience. Through the relationship with Oman Sail and our participation in international events throughout the season, in France, the UK and Germany, we seek to connect with the high-end tourist that attends and follows these elite sailing events and to impart what the Sultanate of Oman has to offer in terms of natural beauty and culture.
Route des Princes. Valencia. Spain The Oman Air MOD70 - Musandam skipper Sidney Gavignet (FRA) - © Lloyd Images
With a direct flight from Paris to Muscat with Oman Air, the French tourist is very important to us and we look forward to raising awareness of our country's attractions through our participation in the Route du Rhum.'
The Route du Rhum is the climax of what is set to be a busy season of training and racing for Sidney Gavignet and the Omani and international race squad that will rotate on both the M34 and MOD70 crews throughout the season.
The objectives are a podium place in the Tour de France a la Voile and a strong front of the fleet performance in the Round Britain and Ireland Race in August on the MOD70. After that, Sidney will transition to training single-handed on the MOD70 ahead of the start of the Route du Rhum on 2 November. Alterations on the MOD70 have already begun and each event and delivery will serve as a testing opportunity throughout the summer.
'My Omani teammates will live the Route du Rhum experience and preparations with me throughout the season,' said Gavignet. 'We will race together on both the M34 towards the Tour de France a la Voile and the MOD70 in France, Germany and the UK. Developing the sailors as a squad that rotates on both boats will give them a deeper knowledge and understanding of the sport and make them more rounded,' he added.
Musandam-Oman Sail will compete in the ‘Ultimes’ Class for the 10th edition of this famous 4,471 nautical mile race, which since its first edition in 1978 has proved popular. It is already fully subscribed, with 100 boats across five classes, including 10 Ultimes, 10 Multi 50s, 15 IMOCAs, 45 Class 40s and 20 Rhum Categories. Oman Sail Elite Sailing Squad Summer Programme 2014
• 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
• 2 November: Start of the Route du Rhum M34 programme
• 8-11 May: Grand Prix Guyader, Douarnenez, France
• 9-15 June: Normandy Sailing Week, France
• 4-28 July: Tour de France a la Voile 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)
• Damien Iehl (FRA) – M34 only
• Shane Hughes (IRL) – M34 only
• Thomas Ruyant (FRA) – M34 only
• Alex Pallu (FRA) – M34 only
• Guillaume Beranger (FRA) – M34 only
Oman Air - Musandam MOD70. The Oman Air MOD70. Skippered by Sidney Gavignet (FRA) with team mates Thomas LeBreton (FRA), Fahad Al Hasni (OMA), Neal McDonald (GBR),Damian Foxall (IRL), Ahmed Al Hassani (OMA) and Giles Favennec (FRA) - © Lloyd Images