This morning's Round Ireland record bid has been abandoned and Damian Foxall and the crew of the MOD70 who sheltered off the Welsh coast in freezing conditions last night are returning to Lorient, France directly this morning. The disappointing news came from Skipper Sidney Gavignet in an email to World Speed sailing commissioner Chris Moore who was standing by to officiallly start the record challenge at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire this morning.
We will not attempt the record this time, we are aiming back to Lorient. Conditions are "almost" ok, but we prefer to play the safe decision. Hopefully we will come back later in the year, in better conditions.
All our team thanks you a lot for all your efforts, we regret we won't see you but it will happen later.
Gavignet, Foxall and a four man professional crew had originally targeted last Thursday as the optimum start time off the Kish lighhouse but the 1000km delivery trip from Lorient was delayed by 24 hours. They eventually left the French port at tea time on Thursday and endured strong winds and heavy seas on their voyage across the channel and up the Irish Sea, eventually running for shelter under bare pole into Cardigan Bay yesterday (Friday) afternoon.
Last night the crew were enjoying their first hot meal in 24 hours and were obviously considering their options overnight.
"Still gusting 40 knots, but flat seas. It is very cold, snow on the mountains. Right now Sidney and Thomas Le Breton are having their first hot meal of the day! Spirits are up and all is well"
At 07.18 this morning they were heading for home. We look forward to seeing them back near Irish shores again soon.
Update from Oman Sail released on Sunday:
With a very busy training and racing season ahead, Musandam-Oman Sail's French skipper Sidney Gavignet chose safety for the crew and the boat this morning over the Round Ireland Record attempt and decided to turn back to Lorient in France where the boat is based.
The strong winds that looked set to aid Musandam-Oman Sail's attempt on the Round Ireland record proved too strong in the end and while conditions had decreased a little overnight, the wind was gusting 38knots plus and the sea state was still very rough with 4m at the Fastnet. Writing from the boat, Sidney said: "We will not attempt the record this time, we are heading back to Lorient. The conditions are 'almost' ok, but we prefer to play it safe with such a busy season ahead, our priority is the crew and boat safety. Hopefully we will come back later in the year to try for the record in better conditions."
The six-man crew had been on standby for almost 18 hours, making assessments with each weather update on the feasibility of success in their attempt on the 708 mile record, with impact on both boat and crew figuring high in their considerations.
To set a new record, Musandam-Oman Sail had to complete the circuit in less than 44 hours and 42 minutes, the record set by sailor, balloonist and adventurer Steve Fossett on his 60 foot trimaran Lakota in 1993.
With a new crew featuring experienced internationals Neal McDonald, Damian Foxall and Thomas Le Breton and Omani nationals Fahad Al Hasni and Ahmed Al Maamari, the Round Ireland record attempt marked their first competitive activity, with this race against the clock seen as good preparation for a busy season of racing in Europe.