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#roundireland – After spending last Friday night in the lee of Mount Snowdon, with 35-50 knot winds and rough seas off the Welsh coast, Team Oman Sail called it a day on their ill-fated record attempt and headed back to France early on Saturday morning.

Steve Fossett's 1993 record lives on but Irish crew man Damian Foxall has promised to return and make another attempt.

If the ultra fast MOD70 trimaran gets the right conditions it is estimated as much as ten hours can be shaved off the 1993 Lakota 44 hour record, thanks to new sailing technology.

For now though, Omansail continues its three week training session (part of a build up to the Round Europe race) back in Lorient, France.

'On Tuesday we are out testing with the new Tri Prince de Bretagne', Foxall told

The following week three MOD 70's go to the training centre in PLF, Oman Sail will line up with Gitana and hopefully Jean Pierre Dick's new MOD 70 Paprec Virbac.

'We've a good season ahead, a couple of short Breton races, three more training sessions, then the Round Europe with a stopover in Dublin, the Fastnet'

The miles flow easy under the MOD 70 hulls and with Foxall's commitment it look's like Omansail will certainly be back for the Fossett record.

Published in Offshore

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.

Dear Chris,

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.

Best regards

Sidney Gavignet

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.

Read WM Nixon's Saturday Sailing blog on all the past Round Ireland speed records dating back to 1899! Click Here.

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.


Published in Offshore
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#roundirelandrecord – A change in weather forecast has led Kerry sailor Damian Foxall to postpone his bid to beat the Round Ireland speed sailing record for 24 hours. The Oman Sail trimaran craft skippered by Sidney Gavignet is now set to arrive from France on Friday 22nd off the Kish lighthouse on Dublin Bay. The 20-year old record set by Steve Fossett in 1993 stands at 44 hours.

Foxall and his five man crew (who may yet be joined by an Irish sailor) have identified strong easterly winds gusting to over 40 knots to start the record bid. XC weather forecasts strong East South East winds for 72 hours from late on Thursday.

The National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire will officiate the World Speed Sailing Record bid under its Irish commissioner Chris Moore.



Published in Offshore

#Figaro - The course for this year's Solitaire du Figaro has been finalised - with no Irish port in the lineup.

The Daily Sail details the four legs of the 44th edition of the prestigious and challenging single-handed offshore race, that will take the fleet from Bordeaux to Porto, Gijón, Roscoff and Dieppe - with no changes from the course unveiled in December.

But despite indications that Ireland would have a host port on the race route, following previous stop-overs on Kinsale, Dingle, Howth, Crosshaven and Dun Laoghaire, it appears this summer's running will be a purely continental event.

Even so, Ireland will be represented among the competing fleet by the brother of last year's Sailor of the Year David Kenefick, who is set to make his Figaro debut.

The Cork Harbour helmsman, who came second in the La Grande Motte recently, discussed race tactics as he steps up his training ahead of the race from 2-23 June.

Published in Figaro

#Oil - Fastnet Oil & Gas has executed its exclusive option agreement to farm into its Deep Kinsale Prospect beneath the Kinsale Head Gas Field.

The option agreement with Petronas subsidiary Kinsale Energy is confined to geological formations below 4,000 feet subsea. Fastnet will conduct a 3D seismic survey over 500 sq km in the Celtic Sea prospect by the end of the year as well as complete necessary geological and engineering studies.

The agreement also gives Fastnet an exclusive option to test the geologically similar Purbecko-Wealden reservoirs productive in Barryroe, a prospect that has proven a bounty for Providence Resources.

Fastnet chair Cathal Friel said: "We are delighted to have added an exclusive option to farm into and potentially drill the Deep Kinsale Prospect in 2014.

"It represents an attractive addition to our Irish portfolio as we have long held a belief that Deep Kinsale offers the potential to yield up another significant hydrocarbon discovery offshore Ireland. This belief has been further strengthened by the successful appraisal of Barryroe in 2012, which is geologically analogous to Deep Kinsale.

"We greatly look forward to working in close cooperation with our colleagues at Kinsale Energy, as we collectively seek to de-risk the prospect for drilling."

As previously reported on, Fastnet Oil & Gas announced in December its plans to spend more than €20 million on the Celtic Sea's biggest ever seismic study on blocks off the south coast which were drilled in the 1980s and later abandoned.

New techniques in the oil industry are now allowing previously unviable resources to be extracted, as fellow prospectors Petrel Resources are planning to do off the Kerry coast.

Published in Coastal Notes

A French skipper has been fined £9,000 for the infringement of navigation rules during his Round Britain and Ireland record attempt in June. Marc Guillemot was charged with breaking navigation rules twice in the Straits of Dover during his attempt to beat his own record.

Following his fine Guillemot issued the following statement:

Today, Thursday 6th December 2012, the British justice system issued its judgement following Marc Guillemot's infringement of navigation rules during his Round Britain and Ireland record attempt in June 2012. The skipper will have to pay a fine of 9 000 £.

Reminder of what happened

On 7th June 2012, Marc Guillemot was charged with breaking navigation rules twice in the Straits of Dover during his attempt to beat his own record. Marc Guillemot and his crew did in fact enter the traffic separation system without respecting the lanes and rules regarding crossing this zone.

On 12th July, Marc Guillemot willingly attended a meeting following a summons from the British coastguards (MCA) to find out exactly what he was being accused of and immediately accepted their version of events.

In early September, he was summoned to a hearing, which was due to take place in Southampton on 2nd October at the Magistrates Court. The sailor, who was busy preparing for the Vendée Globe offered his excuses and was represented by his lawyer, to whom he gave instruction to plead guilty.

The judge did not wish to excuse Marc Guillemot's non-attendance and issued a warrant against the skipper. The validity of the warrant issued by the judge was contested by Marc Guillemot at the high court, which led to it being cancelled, and his summons to appear was put back until after the Vendée Globe.

Marc Guillemot was therefore able to line up at the start of the race on 10th November as planned.

The judgement from 6th December

Following his retiral from the Vendée Globe, Marc Guillemot made himself immediately available to the British authorities and was summoned to a hearing on 6th December at the Magistrates Court in Southampton, which he willingly attended accompanied by his legal advisors.

During the hearing, the judge issued Marc Guillemot with a fine of  9 000 £.

Published in Offshore
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#VOYAGE - The Irish Independent reports on the rapturous welcome received by retired Irish fisherman Finbarr Murphy in Iceland as he retraces the route of St Brendan the Navigator.

The West Cork sailor has already travelled on his restored yacht, the 19-metre Bella Donna, via the Orkneys, Norway and the Faroe Islands - crossing the freezing waters of the far north Atlantic to reach Iceland last month.

Since his arrival he's been treated as a celebrity, with regular appearances in the press and on TV and radio, and so has understandably decided to spend the rest of the winter in Iceland before the final leg of his voyage to Greenland early in the new year.

Murphy isn't the first to retrace the voyage of the legendary St Brendan, as last year a crew of sailors, artists, musicians and historians attempted the same on board Paddy Barry's 45ft yacht Ar Seachrán.

As previously reported on, that trip hit a snag along the way in May last year when the boat was refused permission to land on Skellig Michael off the Kerry coast.

Published in Offshore

#isora – ISORA has issued its 2012 AGM Agenda plus its 2013 draft Race Schedule for the Irish Sea next year. Both are available for download below as pdf documents.

The race programme will be approved on November 17th at the National Yacht Club. Unfortunately the date clashes with the one day Irish Cruiser Racer Conference (ICRA) in Kilkenny where offshore supremo Damian Foxall will give a presentation.

The ISORA agm is followed by the Annual ISORA Prize Giving Dinner at the NYC where some of the most elegant sailing trophies including the Wolf's Head Trophy will be presented.

Published in ISORA


#middlesearace – There were emotional scenes dockside in Malta this morning as Irish sailors Barry Hurley and Andrew Boyle sailed home in their 35-yacht Dinah to win the double handed class, they finished just 25 minutes inside the time limit after seven days of tense racing in the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

Hurley has described the race as the 'most intense' race he has ever sailed due to the stop start nature of the winds. In an exclusive podcast (below) by Afloat correspondent Louay Habib, Hurley admits there was 'real pressure' over the last few hours. The overall achievement has yet to sink in for the Dun Laoghaire pairing but it has not stopped early celebrations this morning that has made sailing the boat 3000 miles from Dun Laoghaire to Malta a really worthwhile conclusion to the 2012 season.

Only last night the pair were judged as outsiders to finish the race at all such has been the fickle conditions for the 33rd race but a favourable wind overnight allowed Hurely and Boyle to pick up seeds of 17 knots at times to cover 120 miles in 12 hours.

The Mediterranean odyssey ended with an official welcome home from Irish Ambassador Jim Hennessy who was waiting to welcome the Royal Irish Yacht Club boat and celebrate yet another international victory for the offshore sailing champions.


The crew of Dinah and Atame share a beer and a few stories dockside after tying up at The Royal Malta Yacht Club. The two teams had been locked in combat for 7 days and nights. L-R Beppe Bisotto, Barry Hurley, Ian Knight and Andrew Boyle Photo: Royal Malta Yacht Club/Louay Habib

Hennessy who held a pre-race reception for the Irish crews in Malta was also first to congratulate the pair on stepping ashore. 'It's a really gutsy performance that has defied a lot of the experts here in Malta. We're really proud of them, it's a great win, he told as he held the tricolour aloft with the crew at the Royal Malta Yacht Club.

There was other Irish involvement in the race from Dun Laoghaire yacht Gallileo skippered by Des Keliher. The Beneteau 44.7 yacht retired due to the light winds on Tuesday but there has been Irish interest in at least two other international entries in the 83-boat fleet.

Fireball dinghy champion Kenny Rumball also from Dun Laoghaire was aboard German entry Kohinoor, a Carter 55 Custom Sloop and Irish sea offshore campaigners Liam Coyne and Brian Flahive was racing on the Maltese J122 entry Otra Vez.

As well as Irish boats heading to the Med for racing Ambassador Hennessy says he is keen to create a 'two way movement of boats' and is hopeful that Maltese boats with Irish sailors aboard will head north next year for 'The Gathering'.





Published in Offshore

#middlesearace – Dun Laoghaire yacht Dinah sailed by Barry Hurley and Andrew Boyle are maintaining second overall in the double-handed class inspite of a massive thunderstorm and torrential rain engulfing Malta overnight in the latest update from the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

IRL3508, a modified JOD 35-foot yacht is 232 miles from the finish line and expected to be the 66th boat to cross the line in the 83 boat fleet. The experienced offshore pairing were making just over 4 knots in the still tricky conditions as the race enters its closing stages.

Late last night before the thunderstorm struck and engulfed Malta in heavy rain Hurley told 'We're doing ok in our class although our main competition is now in different weather systems, so we need to work extra hard to keep in contention. Fingers crossed we have what it takes! Hurley told

Meanwhile, Nick Lazos and Periklis Livas' Farr 52, Optimum 3 Aspida crossed the finish line to lead Class Two and the Rolex Middle Sea Race overall. However, the Greek team's tenure on this extra-ordinary race was very short lived. At 04:18 15 Eddie De Villiers, Welbourne 46, Hi Fidelity crossed the finish line to take the overall lead in the race.

In driving rain with thunderbolts lighting up the medieval bastions, the South African crew, soaked to the skin, looked astonished to find out that they are now the hot favourites to win the overall prize for the Rolex Middle Sea Race.

To put the amazing performance into perspective, Hi Fidelity's corrected time was nearly seven hours quicker than Niklas Zennstrom's JV72 Ran but the team had no idea until they finished.

"We didn't have a clue how well we were doing until we finished, it is unbelievable," exclaimed De Villiers. "The crew have been absolutely fantastic, I can not give them enough praise. This has been one hell of a race, we have had just about everything thrown at us. Coming through the Comino Strait there was a terrific amount of thunder and lightning it was all around us and the wind touched 37 knots. To come through the finish and find out that we have such a great result is truly amazing!"

Two yachts pose the biggest threat to HI Fidelity's overall lead Josef Schultheis' & Paolo Semeraro's Xp44, XP-ACT and the reigning Rolex Middle Sea Race champion, Lee Satariano & Christian Ripard's J/122, Artie RTF. Both yachts are expected to finish this afternoon.

Published in Offshore
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