The Sultanate of Oman’s MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail has rounded the top of Ireland and was doing around 20–knots off the coast of Donegal in a bid for the20–year–old Round Ireland Speed sailling record early this morning.
Having started on Dublin Bay last night at 1800 hours and headed north, the current ETA back on Dublin Bay is scheduled for tomorrow (Wednesday) morning which means the record could fall by as much as ten hours. At 0730, as the tri passed Bloody Foreland the international crew were steering 284 degrees and heading deeper offshore.
French skipper Sidney Gavignet was reunited with his three Omani crew Fahad Al Hasni, Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili who were key members of his triumphant team whenMusandam-Oman Sail smashed the Round Britain and Ireland world record last August and now it looks like the 1993 Round Ieland record set by Steve Fossett on Lakota may now also be in doubt.
The National Yacht Club is the base for the record bid and Irish World speed Sailing Commissioner Chris Moore is officiating.
Also on board the Tri is Spanish sailor Alex Pella and the French multihull veteran Jean Baptiste Levaillant who have joined the Omani trimaran for the attempt to beat the long standing Round Ireland record of 44 hours set back in September 1993.
“The goal is to give my Omani crewmates some real life training in a range of conditions and we are taking advantage of an ideal weather window,” explained Gavignet who was last on the boat when he raced it single-handed across the Atlantic in the Route du Rhum in November 2014.
The forecast before they threw the lines at 17:04 UTC on Monday was for light conditions that were scheduled to build significantly overnight. Before casting off, Sidney warned that they would be playing it safe: “We will be watching the weather carefully and avoiding risks.”
Musandam-Oman Sail made an attempt on the Round Ireland record two years ago but wereforced to abandon due to unsafe conditions but hopes are high that this time, the weather will be kinder and allow Oman Sail to add this speed record to their growing collection.
“The current record is held by great sailors, so it would be a huge source of pride for us to break it and add such an achievement to our experience as sailors. We are expecting a lot of challenges and very low temperatures to the north, but we are prepared and hope to return with another record for Oman,” said Fahad Al Hasni.
“We are focussing this season on the sailor’s strength and fitness, but also on preparing the boat and studying the weather to make them better all round offshore sailors. There won’t be many record attempts on our schedule in 2015, but this one is a primary goal and if we can get the record, it would be very good for the guys, for the country and for Oman Sail,” added Gavignet.
Since the boat was launched following a routine refit, Gavignet has been training with his crew in Lorient and taking part in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez in Brittany, France, where they flew the Omani flag in Europe for the first time this year and got back into competitive racing mode after a winter sailing with other crew in other boats.