The new Oman Sail Class 40 crew have emerged from their debut in the highly competitive class, strengthened by the experience and with hard-earned knowledge to improve their performance.
Experienced French sailor Sidney Gavignet and Omani offshore yachtsman Fahad Al Hasni finished the 2,500-mile Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race from France to the Azores and back in seventh place, with conditions on the two-leg race often proving challenging.
However, any lingering disappointment from the first leg, when a failed bowsprit handicapped their speed during the final run into Horta, was more than compensated for by the invaluable experience gained in over 12 days of offshore racing.
“It was a really tough race, though overall it was a really pure, solid experience for Fahad and me,” said a clearly tired Gavignet after stepping ashore in Les Sables d’Olonne, France.
“Technically we have learnt a lot more about the boat, about when to push and when not to push, and the sails that we need as we are missing some in our inventory. We can only have eight sails on the boat, so you have to be right. It is not something you can know before racing.”
But he added: “It’s all good, it was a great experience for us, for the boat, and for Fahad, but it was tough.”
The Class 40 campaign is an evolution of a six year relationship between Al Hasni and Gavignet, the two having also raced together on the record-breaking MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail trimaran as part of the unique and ground-breaking national Omani initiative.
“It has been a hard race and we have had a few challenges, but it has been a really important experience for me,” said Al Hasni. “The best way to learn is to get out on the ocean and do it, and in Sidney I have a great teacher.
“Every day the experience and knowledge adds up. It has been a real challenge but we are both looking forward to the next event,” added Al Hasni, who has made maritime history in becoming the first Omani sailor to co-skipper in a two-handed offshore race.
Though knocked down the overall leaderboard by the second leg winner AINA Childhood and the Future, Oman Sail had a close match-race to the finish with Stella Nova, finishing just one minute and 36 seconds behind after more than five and a half days of racing.
The Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race was won overall by Tales II raced by Gonzalo Botin and Pablo Santurde, who completed the combined course just 13 minutes and five seconds ahead of Imerys, co-skippered by Phil Sharp and Adrien Hardy.
Next stop for the Oman Sail duo is the legendary Rolex Fastnet Race, which starts on August 6. For the 650-mile race from Cowes on the Isle of Wight to the Fastnet Rock off Ireland’s southeast coast and back to Plymouth, they will be joined by Omani sailor Sami Al Shukaili, another MOD70 regular, and veteran Spanish sailor Alex Pella, a member of the IDEC Sport crew which won the round-the-world record Jules Verne Trophy earlier this year.
Further on, the Oman Sail 2017 Class 40 campaign will culminate in November with the two-handed Transat Jacques Vabre, the 3,000-mile race from Le Havre to Salvador in Brazil.
by Oman Sail