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#roundirelandrecord – Damian Foxall's Round Ireland speed sailing record bid due to start Friday, March 22nd  has not got off to the most auspicious start. Battered by strong winds and big waves in the Irish Sea the giant tri under skipper Sidney Gavignet has been reduced to bare poles on its 1000km delivery trip from Lorient, France. The crew is 'on stand-by' and currently looking for shelter on the Welsh coast (1500 Friday) before attempting the Dublin Bay startline. There are unconfirmed reports now that the attempt will be postponed until tomorrow (Saturday). Track the progress of the giant MOD 70 trimaran via the Yellow GPS tracker (above) on Afloat.ie. Remember – once they cross the Dun Laoghaire line 44 hours is the record time to beat! Read WM Nixon's review of all previous Round Ireland speed records dating back to 1899 here!

The Sultanate of Oman's MOD70 flagship Musandam-Oman Sail is due to kick off a busy racing season with this Round Ireland Record attempt but it is only one part of the crew's busy season. French skipper Sidney Gavignet returns to lead the 6-man crew made up of Omani sailors and well-known international pros (including our own Damian Foxall) for a season that will also include the Route des Princes and the Rolex Fastnet Race in August.

Gavignet's new look crew on Oman's flagship Multi One Design 70 Musandam-Oman Sail have brought with them new expectations for the 2013 season as their preparations start in earnest this week with an attempt on the long-standing Round Ireland record.

As part of an intensive three week training programme, the Oman Sail crew, featuring three new faces from last season, will make a bid on the 20 year-old record as a practice run for the team's busy racing schedule later this summer.

The 700-mile sprint through the lumpy Irish Seas and the Atlantic Ocean is sure to be a baptism of fire for one of the new crew, Omani sailor Ahmed Al Maamari who only recently stepped aboard the MOD70.

Published in Offshore

#roundirelandrecord – A 60-foot MOD 70 trimaran with Ireland's top offshore sailor Damian Foxall and an international crew on board is to attempt to break the Round Ireland speed record this week.

French sailor Sidney Gavignet will skipper Oman Sail, a MOD 70 that was last in Irish waters for the MOD70 European tour last September. As well as Foxall, Neal McDonald, Jean Francois Cuzon and Fahad Al Hasni are listed as crew.

FOR ROUND IRELAND OMANSAIL TRACKER CLICK HERE

The bid is sponsored by the Tourism ministry of Oman.

World Speed Sailing Record Commissioner Chris Moore, who is also the vice-commodore of Dublin Bay Sailing Club (DBSC) will officiate this latest attempt, possibly on March 20th but subject to weather. The plan, according to Moore, is to start and finish at the Kish lighthouse at the entrance to Dublin Bay using DBSC's new starting vessel Freebird.

This latest record attempt at the 700–mile course is 20 years since Steve Fossett's Lakota set the inaugural Round Ireland record. Back then Irish sailors Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey of the National Yacht Club were on board the catamaran.

The National Yacht Club is the keepr of records of Round Ireland speed record attempts for solo, monohull and multihull records.

In Early Sept 1993, the 60ft. trimaran 'Lakota' shattered the previous record for the fastest circumnavigation of Ireland by almost one full day.

Sailing with a crew of 5 – American co-skippers Steve Fossett and David Scully, English yachtsman Brian Thompson and Irish husband and wife team, Con Murphy and Cathy Mac Aleavey from the National Yacht Club – "Lakota" crossed the start line at the Kish in Dublin Bay on Wednesday, 8th September 1993 and headed North East, finishing at 09.12 on Friday 10th September, completing the course in 44 hours, 42 mins and 20 seconds, averaging 15.84 knots.

David Andrews, T.D., Minister for Defence and the Marine, presented the Cork Dry Gin Perpetual Challenge trophy for the record to Steve Fossett at a presentation dinner in the National Yacht Club on the 18th November 1993. The trophy remains with the National Yacht Club until there is a successful challenge to beat "Lakota's" time through some other sailing club or national authority.

More details on the current record attempt as we have it. Below some footage of Oman Sail at speed.

 

 

Published in Offshore

#ISA -  Supporters of Irish sailing are asked to come together for a night of celebration and pay tribute to some of the outstanding contributors to sailing across six categories including the Mitsubishi Motors Club of the Year, Volunteer of the Year, Instructor of the Year and Training Centre of the Year.

Irish sailing's stars of tomorrow - such as ISAF Youth Worlds silver medallist Finn Lynch - are also in the running for the title of Youth Sailor of the Year.

Last year was an incredibly successful year for Irish sailing: 11 sailors represented Ireland at both the London Olympic and Paralympic Games, dozens of medals were claimed at events around the world and we played host to such high profile events as the ISAF Youth Worlds, the Volvo Ocean Race finale, the Tall Ships Race and the MOD 70s, to name but a few.

The ISA Awards Ball is the occasion to celebrate 12 months of successes and also launch the 2013 season in style. Tickets for the ball are €65 per person and must be booked by Friday 22 February 2013. Full details can be found at the ISA website HERE.

Published in ISA

#vor – Kerry's Damian Foxall Groupama team won the 11th edition of the Volvo Ocean Race early this morning when they crossed the finish line in the pitch black Galway night to settle the closest contest in the race's 39-year history.

While CAMPER were celebrating victory in the ninth and final leg, Groupama skipper Franck Cammas led his team home in second place to take an unassailable 24-point lead with just one in-port race to go.

The win for Groupama would be the first Volvo Ocean Race victory for Foxall, who has sailed round the world nine times. The Kerry man hails  from Derrynane and had a childhood dream of competing in the then Whitbread Round the World Race.

Foxall is not the first Irish winner, Foxall joins hid former Green Dragon team mater Cork sailor Justin Slattery who was a winner of this race in 2006.

This morning Groupama crossed the finish line at 00:49:11 UTC, just seven minutes behind CAMPER. PUMA finished in third place at 00:55:01 UTC ahead of Team Telefonica, who finished at 00:59:33 UTC.

Cammas, the 39-year-old Frenchman, threw his arms up and pumped his fists in the air while thousands of fans gathered on the dock of Galway Bay to roar the team -- including Irishman Damian Foxall -- home to a remarkable victory in their first appearance in the race.

foxallwins

Damian is centre stage for this morning's celebrations

galwaydocks

Turning the Galway night sky red. CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, skippered by Chris Nicholson from Australia, arrive to a huge spectator crowd, after winning leg 9 to Galway. Photo: Paul Todd

Groupama are the first team to represent France in the Volvo Ocean Race since Eric Tabarly's La Poste in 1993-94 and they are only the second French winners after Lionel Pean on L'Espirit d'Equipe in 1985-86.

The team gallantly fought back from a deficit that was as high as 28 points following the HaiTang Bay In-Port Race in Sanya, winning the next leg to Auckland and steadily improving their knowledge of their boat and cohesion as a team to surge to a commanding lead going into Leg 9.

With the sort of nerve that quickly became their trademark in the race, Groupama stayed serenely out of trouble on the 550-nautical mile race through wild conditions in the English Channel and around the iconic Fastnet Rock, to finish second across the line and seal their place among an elite band of winners in an event that began life as the Whitbread Round the World Race in 1973.

CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand led the procession across the finish line much to the delight of surrounding flotilla of spectators, at 00:42:13 UTC -- their first leg win of the race.

CAMPER are almost certain to secure second place with 226 points, six points clear of third place PUMA, with just the final in-port race remaining.

Six points will be up for grabs for first place, five for second, four for third and so on when the final race of the epic 39,000 nautical mile ocean race starts on July 7.

crowdsgalway

Camper are greeted by a huge crowd this morning

Standings after the final offshore leg:

1. Groupama (France) 250 points

2. Camper/ETNZ (Spain/New Zealand) 226

3. Pima (U.S.) 220

4. Telefonica (Spain) 209

5. Abu Dhabi (UAE) 124 + 5 or 10

6. Sanya (China) 40 + 5 or 10

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Team Telefónica currently leads the Volvo Ocean Race fleet on the final leg with just a day's sailing left to go to the finish line in Galway.

As of 9.15am this morning, the Spanish team were closing in fast on Fastnet Rock, just 40 nautical miles ahead.

Hot on their heels is the CAMPER team, followed by a racey PUMA and Groupama, whose watch captain Damian Foxall is on course for his first ever Volvo Ocean Race win on home waters.

At the back of the pack, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing - featuring Wexford sailor Justin Slattery on deck – are in fifth place ahead of the Discover Ireland-backed entry Team Sanya, skippered by Ian Walker - who shared his strategy to make up for lost time.

“We’ll go thorough a second trough that will head the wind, so we’ll end up on the wind on much tighter angles near Fastnet Rock and a little more on the wind to get round the corner of Ireland, then the wind should come aft again to get us into Galway,” he said.

The first of the fleet is set to cross the finish line in Galway to meet the sunrise at 4am tomorrow morning, according to VOR headquarters in Alicante, Spain.

Follow rolling updates on the race fleet at the official Volvo Ocean Race website HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR – One of Ireland's most famous and most fearless ocean sailors, Kerry born Damian Foxall, is edging ever closer to realising the dream of a lifetime in what would be a moment of national triumph when the Volvo Ocean Race ends on Galway Bay.

Foxall is watch-leader on the battling French boat 'Groupama', overall leader and current favourite to win the gruelling 39,000-mile round the world race. He has played what has been spoken of as "an inspiring role" in the boat's success so far in the race.

"The Irish Examiner" described Damian Foxall, who now lives in France, as "unquestionably Ireland's finest ocean racing sailor whose name is whispered with awe among sailing's elite. He has also been called Ireland's "most capped" sailor having won a string of the world's most famous sailing races.

Now as the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race enters its final decisive phase – the six boat fleet will power its way into Galway Bay in the early hours of Tuesday morning - Foxall is poised to win sailing glory and to hear the roar of the crowd and the ringing rounds of applause in his ears.

The last time Damian heard that roar, mingled with the strains of  the beguiling "The Galway Girl", was in 2009 when the "Green Dragon", on which he was watch leader, arrived in the city to a rapturous 3am stop over reception. It was a reception the like of which has never been seen before in the race history. The Green Dragon, the Chinese-Irish entry, took a podium 3rd place that night after racing across the Atlantic from Boston.

Three years later, Foxall's boat  "Groupama", skippered by the legendary French sailor Franck Cammas is tightening its grip on what has been one of the toughest Volvo Ocean Races and is moving every closer to overall victory.

"Camas already has "one hand on the trophy" race commentators in Lorient said after "Groupama" snatched a vital hometown victory in the in-port race on Saturday increasing its lead on its nearest rival, the US entry, Puma to 25 points. "Groupama" now has 225 points ; Puma 200; Camper (Spain/New Zealand) 196 and . Telefonica (Spain) 194 .

The final 450 mile leg of the race from Lorient to Galway, which is now under way, carries 30 points and an in port race in Galway a further 6. The final sprint to Galway could, according to race analysts, be one of the toughest and hardest fought yet.

For Foxall, this will be his eighth race around the world and the fourth time he has taken part in the Volvo Ocean Race. He admits he is nervous about winning in front of a home crowd.  Speaking in Lorient he said "It's our race to lose and anything but overall victory would be a disaster for us," the Derrynane native said.  "It is totally possible to lose the race from here."

"Our job now is very different to the first three-quarters of the race when we sailed all out," cautions Foxall.  "Now we have to be very aware of risk management, we have to keep our noses clean and resist pressure from Ken Read on Puma, our nearest threat."  A basic failure of critical equipment causing Groupama to finish last into Galway could be enough to give the advantage to Read.

Nevertheless, the prospect of a repeat of the 2009 race stop-over is causing great anticipation in the race fleet.  "It's going to be big.  Throughout the race, the sailors and shore-teams who were in Galway last time have all been talking about their incredible experience there.  We're all aware of the extraordinary effort being made in Ireland this time so we're looking forward to it."

Other crew looking forward to a special welcome in Galway include Cork  sailor Justin Slattery  who is bowman  on " Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing". It's skipper Ian Walker was skipper of Ireland's Green Dragon in 2008-2009 . He too has fond memories of the celebrations and the atmosphere in Galway docks for the dramatic night-time arrival of the fleet in the 2008-09  race. Justin Slattery who was bowman on the 2006-2006 Volvo Ocean Race winner ABN-AMRO One, and Damian Foxall both recall that they had never seen such race finish receptions.

Writing about that night in his book  "Ocean Fever",  Foxall recalled "It was 3am in the morning and the crew expected to be greeted by a few die hard supporters but in fact it was more like All Ireland final day."

"Out of the darkness, a RIB pulled up beside us, her crew dressed for offshore conditions and all cheering madly. Nice welcome, we thought. But as we crossed the bay, the fleet around us grew and by the time we were getting closer to the port where the channel narrows, the fleet was huge: you could have walked from one boat to another and in the middle of the night. And we were still trying to race." 

There was more to come. In the dim moonlight, as the fleet crept towards Galway docks, the Green Dragon crew could just make out the enormous crowd lining every spare bit of space on the docks. 

"We could see the sheer scale of 9,000 people gathered at three o'clock in the morning. We never expected this."

Foxall has won some of the world's top races including  the 2007/2008  Barcelona World Race sailing with co-skipper Jean Pierre Dick on the Open 60 Paprec-Virbac.

He completed a world record circumnavigation in early 2004 with  Steve Fossett on the G-Class catamaran Cheyenne. He was named Sailor of the Month by Afloat Magazine in March 2004.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Damian Foxall hopes it will be fourth time lucky in his quest to clinch a Volvo Ocean Race victory - but as he tells the official VOR website, he won't be resting on his laurels.

Despite the overall 23-point advantage held by his team Groupama - following a dramatic comeback victory in the most recent leg of the race - Foxall says victory is not yet assured in a field that has been growing increasingly competitive in recent weeks.

"Now we have to keep pushing," says the 42-year-old Kerryman. "“We have a very fast boat if not the fastest boat in the fleet, and we've learned how to sail it very well. There is no reason we can't win this race. We've believed that from the start and now everyone else believes it."

But the watch captain and his crew are acutely aware that it can all be lost in the blink of an eye.

"A technical hitch or a couple of poor starts like we have had recently from Lisbon and it all goes down the drain," he says. "We can't let that happen.”

This Sunday the fleet departs on the final leg of the race, a 550-mile sprint from Lorient in France to Galway through the often turbulent Celtic Sea that has the potential to scupper even the best prepared team's plans.

The official Volvo Ocean Race website has more on the story HERE.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing secured their first leg victory of the Volvo Ocean Race last night in Portugal - pipping Groupama to the post by less than six minutes.

"It's one of the most amazing experiences of my sailing career," said Abu Dhabi skipper Ian Walker after the 12-day, 3,500-nautical-mile race from Miami to Lisbon.

Wexford's own Justin Slattery joined his crewmates for a well-deserved celebration on the dockside after their remarkable close finish in a race that has been dogged by demastings and other setbacks since it began late last year.

But it wasn't even the closest finish last night, as Team Telefónica took fourth place a mere 1 minute 42 seconds ahead of CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand, who dramatically stalled just metres from the line.

The finish sees Groupama - which features Kerry sailor Damian Foxall on deck - move to first place in the overall scoreboard with 183 points, the first to grab the top spot from Telefónica since the first leg last November.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOR – After a light airs start to Leg 7 yesterday, Damian Foxall's Groupama sailing team have the lead today as northerly winds blowing against the Gulf Stream kick up a choppy sea in the opening stages of the transatlantic leg to Lisbon in Portugal.

The fleet's progress north is being helped by three knots of positive current from the Gulf Stream conveyor belt, but has made for an unpleasant and bumpy start to the 3,590 nautical mile (nm) leg.

"There's nothing like going upwind in the Gulf Stream and slamming into a big swell," said PUMA watch captain Tony Mutter. Already the fleet has made good progress on what all crews expect to be an exhilarating and predominantly downwind ride back to European waters.

At 0700 GMT today Groupama led from Team Telefónica by 1.2 nm as the fleet passed Cape Canaveral on the east coast of the United States.

Meanwhile PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG, CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand and Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing are tightly bunched, while Team Sanya are positioned two miles to windward of the pack.

Ahead of the fleet to the north lies Tropical Storm Alberto, which will provide a big advantage for the team which finds the strong winds first.

According to Groupama navigator Jean-Luc Nélias, there is a chance the tropical low could propel the fleet east almost as far as the Azores Islands.

"The storm is the source of pressure for us to get north and east on, so it's important to try to feed into that pressure first," explained PUMA navigator Tom Addis.

"You don't want to be on the wrong side of that low, because the current against wind in the Gulf Stream would give quite a heinous sea state."

Leg 7 is expected to take the fleet 11 days to complete with the leaders expected to arrive in Lisbon on or around May 31.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race

#VOLVO OCEAN RACE - The six Volvo Ocean Race teams have announced their crew line-ups for today's in-port race in Miami, Florida.

Yesterday the team skippers talked about their expectations on the eve of the race, which is set to be the most hotly contested of the series so far.

Mike Sanderson of the Irish-backed Team Sanya, which is currently languishing in last place, was sanguine about the team's chances heading into the transatlantic leg.

"There’s no point in us sailing the race a couple of thousand miles behind the fleet just for the sake of finishing, we’re too competitive for that," he said, "so we’re going to go and do our thing and do the thing how we know to do it and do our very best to keep the boat in one piece."

Ireland's Damian Foxall will be on deck once more as watch leader for the Groupama team, which hopes to return to form after the indignity of dismasting so close to victory on the fifth leg last month.

The Kerryman with battle with Wexford's Justin Slattery who is sailing with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, the debutante team that currently lies fifth place in the standings.

This week Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing welcomed a second Irish sailor on board in the shape of Fireball champion Kenny Rumball, who won a trip to Miami to meet his heroes and sail on the team's Volvo Open 70 race yacht.

Rumball's dream trip coincided with a visit by Volvo Ocean Race chiefs to Galway to check on preparations for the race finale, which is now just six weeks away.

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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