Almost three years after Dame Ellen MacArthur broke the world record for a solo circumnavigation of the globe, her trusted trimaran is embarking on its own new adventure as it set sail from Cowes, Isle of Wight (UK) today on a three week voyage to its new home in The Sultanate of Oman.
Dame Ellen's 75-foot trimaran was brought by The Sultanate earlier this year, and renamed Musandam after the spectacularly beautiful Musandam Peninsula, as part of a wider project to reignite Oman's maritime heritage and help promote the Sultanate as a world class sailing destination and a place for inward tourism and investment from Northern Europe. The boat has undergone a minor refit to enable a maximum crew of five to live on board and sail her and has been repainted in new Oman colours.
Under the guidance of OC Group, a team of eight young Omanis have been based at the UK Sailing Academy in Cowes since April for intensive sail training and three of the Omani team, Abdullah Said Al Busaidi, Moshin Ali al Busaidi and Mohammed Khalfan Al Obaidani, will be joining Frenchman Loik Gallion, skipper of the trimaran Musandam as well as Jean-Sébastien Chénier Proteau and Charles Darbyshire in sailing the trimaran back to the capital of Oman, Muscat. As Musandam prepared to set sail from Cowes, the Royal Yacht Squadron fired a gun salute in honour of her departure.
Dame Ellen said of the Oman Sail project: 'I feel huge pleasure, mingled with some sadness, that the trimaran is leaving for Oman - the sadness being that I will not be with her during the next chapter of her life, but the pleasure is knowing that she will be out on the ocean again, doing what she was built for. I would say that Musandam is a perfect boat to take to Oman, because, although fast, she is an amazingly seaworthy vessel and will look after all who sail on her. I am thrilled that her new skipper is Loik Gallon, a very close friend of eight years. We have been through a lot together and I have total faith in his abilities as a skipper. I hope she brings all good luck to her new sailors, just as she did to me.'
Often referred to as 'Old Arabia', The Sultanate of Oman is one of the best-kept secrets in the Middle East with nearly 3,000km of pristine coastline spanning three different seas. Exposed to the tail winds of the Indian monsoons, Oman's geographical position on some of the world's most important trade routes between Asia and Africa means Dame Ellen's old trimaran will be at home amongst ancient mariners whose ancestors sailed dhows to India, China and East Africa laden with frankincense and from where Sindbad the Sailor is rumoured to have started many of his legendary journeys.
Oman Sail also owns an Extreme 40: the boat often described as a 'flying multihull' and is currently well positioned in the European Extreme 40 iShares Cup circuit with two races in Kiel, Germany and Amsterdam, The Netherlands to go. In addition to the project, Oman is developing a number of marinas so that it can become a sailing destination of choice: the aim is that by the start of the next decade, Oman and sailing will be words that are naturally put together. http://www.omansail.com