Oman Sail’s MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail arrived in Plymouth in the early hours of Wednesday morning after 2 days, 16 hours and 33 minutes at sea.
The Ministry of Tourism flagship was fourth to cross the finishing line, behind Spindrift 2, the world’s fastest boat, Prince de Bretagne, Team Phaedo and, to record a provisional second in the multihull class.
Due to the challenging low wind conditions, the 90th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race will be remembered as a test of endurance rather than an exhibition of speed. Musandam-Oman Sail rounded the iconic Fastnet Rock as part of the leaders and skipper Sidney Gavignet admitted that his seven-strong crew on the high speed trimaran faced some classic racing dilemmas which didn’t quite pay off but provide a valuable learning curve for the entire crew.
“Our overall strategy for the 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race was very simple – stick with the other guys because we are confident in our boat speed,” said Gavignet, moments after the finish.
“But we didn’t – just after the Scillies, on our way out to the Fastnet Rock, there was a shift in a cloud and instead of sticking to our plan, we took the shift. It didn’t last long – but just long enough for our competitors to get past us. It was a shame since we gave away our lead and never managed to get it back. This happens sometimes, that’s racing – it is a good lesson to relearn and remember.”
The 2015 Rolex Fastnet Race was the latest event in Oman Sail’s long-term programme, which started in 2008, to develop world class sailors and the lessons in patience, perseverance and sailing tactics learned throughout this race had been invaluable, Gavignet added.
“Our Omani teammates are improving day-by-day; we use these events to train our fellow crewmembers in a race environment and the guys all rose to the occasion,” he said. “The teamwork is really solid, we are making progress over the years and race-by-race, we are pushing the guys. It takes time to learn everything, but in general it has been a great race even if we haven’t won our class this time.”
For one of those Omani teammates Sami Al Shukaili, his first Fastnet Race was a far cry from the last time he had been in the Irish Sea when Musandam-Oman Sail broke the Round Ireland record in the spring reaching speeds up to 35 knots.
“This was my first Fastnet Race but it was a good challenge to race in such light wind and learn about the trim of the sails and the boat to maximise our boat speed. It also showed to me the importance of being positive and patient on the boat and staying upbeat.”
Fahad Al Hasni, racing in his second Fastnet, said the light winds had made the race tougher than expected but rounding the Fastnet Rock as part of a competitive racing fleet had boosted their team spirits.
“It was a very light Fastnet Race and well done to Phaedo,” he said. “It was a tricky race – making an error early on cost us and we spent the rest of the race trying to make up the ground lost. But it was good to see the Fastnet Rock again. During our training out of Lorient we use it as a goal, so we are quite familiar with it but it was good to see it in race mode.
Immediately after the finish, the crew sailed Musandam-Oman Sail back to her base in Lorient where preparations will begin for their final major race of the year, the Rolex Middle Sea Race in October where they hope to line up once more against Phaedo.
“We congratulate Phaedo on their success here,” said Gavignet. “They did an excellent job of holding on to the big boats which was very impressive but this Musandam-Oman Sail team is outstanding because there was a very good team spirit on board. We will have to take our revenge at the Middle Sea Race!”