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Lloyd Thornburg’s Phaedo 3 set a new World Record time of 2 hours 4 minutes and 14 seconds around the Isle of Wight on Friday afternoon. Now the MOD70 holds both the World Record and Race Record. The boat itself held the old World record of 2 hours 21 minutes and 25 seconds, but that is when is was “Foncia” and being skippered by Michel Desjoyeaux. Record still to be ratified by the WSSRC.

Crew onboard for the race: Brian Thompson, Miles Seddon, Robert Greenhalgh, Peter Greenhalgh, Pete Cumming, Sam Goodchild, Fletcher Kennedy, Justin Slattery. Onboard media; Rachel Fallon-Langdon

Published in Offshore
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Round Ireland Race competitor Phaedo3 came through Dalkey Sound under full sail this morning, touching speeds of 17–knots. The MOD70 skippered by American Lloyd Thornburg was on a training for Saturday's Volvo Round Ireland race start off Wicklow Head. Scroll down for 30–second video clip.

Onboard for Phaedo3's race is Justin Slattery, a Cork offshore sailor who is a double winner of the Volvo Ocean Race. Also onboard the giant trimaran is British sailor Brian Thompson, the first Briton to break the Round the World sailing record twice. He is also the first to sail non stop around the world four times.

Published in Round Ireland

The learning curve on the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail is due for a shift in emphasis in 2016 with their early season programme of the Myth of Malham, the Round Ireland Yacht Race and the Transat Quebec-St Malo races designed to hand Omani crew extra roles and responsibility in the pursuit of success.

Last year, French skipper Sidney Gavignet placed the focus on fitness as they racked up thousands of miles across Europe with a 50% Omani crew, setting a new Round Ireland record plus a new speed record at Kieler Woche 2015.

The stakes have been raised this year and the selection of the three events in May, June and July will help to prepare the Omani sailors for roles at the highest level of offshore racing.

The Myth of Malham at the end of May (28-29) and the Round Ireland Race in June (18) are both organised by the UK’s Royal Ocean Racing Club and offer an opportunity to compete against other MOD70s, explained Gavignet, while the Quebec to St Malo Race is more about adventure and exploration.

“The Quebec to St Malo Race is a classic,” he said. “It is a race I have done three times and it is special. East to west across the Atlantic starting with a 400-mile section down the Saint Lawrence river which is bordered by mountains on both sides. There are lots of whales – including the Beluga Whale – and white beaked and white sided dolphins. In a sailor’s career doing this race is something you will never forget.

“It is more about adventure and the memories. Also it means two transatlantics – one going there and one coming back so it is good training for our Omani crew mates.”

Although Oman Sail and Gavignet have yet to finalise the crew for the season, he is keen to take new offshore talent Raad Al Hadi, who impressed during a recent training run between Lorient and Morocco.

“Raad is good and learning quickly so we will take him from Quebec to St Malo where he will gain experience but he is still a student so we do not plan to take him on the RORC races,” Gavignet said.

Omani sailors Fahad Al Hasni, Sami Al Shukaili, Yassir Al Rahbi will also be back in action along with Irish offshore specialist Damian Foxall and France’s Jean Luc Nelias, who was navigator on Volvo winner Groupama in 2006.

The three Omani sailors have been preparing for their summer by campaigning their J80 at the 2016 Grand Prix Ecole Navale in France having raced together for EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour in February.

Gavignet’s experience will serve Musandam-Oman Sail well in the Quebec-St Malo but the Myth of Malham, a 230-mile race from Cowes to the famous Eddystone Lighthouse and back, will be a brand new experience for him.

“It is an English classic so we are looking forward to it and would love to win it. We will be up against two other MOD70s which is the main reason why we are doing it but it will be a challenge because the other two boats Phaedo and Team Concise have done a lot of sailing over the last few months.”

Results are important, Gavignet continued but Oman Sail’s objective to develop top class sailors for world class events requires a broader focus.

“We want the guys to take on more responsibility. To be an accomplished offshore sailor, you have to think on your feet and we have some real talent on this crew so I will be working with each crewmember individually to encourage them to take responsibility, perhaps for a winch or for safety or whatever other role they might need to prepare for a major offshore race.”

The remainder of Musandam-Oman Sail’s summer programme will be announced later in the season but according to long standing crew member Fahad Al Hasni, racing against the other MOD70s is the highlight.

“By the end of this programme, we would like to be the leading MOD70,” he said. “It will be a challenge because the boats are all different now and the other crews have done a lot of sailing but our time together as a team on the Farr 30 at EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, during our training run from Lorient to Rabat and in the J80 at GP Ecole Navale has made a difference to our team work so we feel well prepared.”

MOD70 Musandam-Oman Sail Programme

Myth of Malham: Starts Cowes, Isle of Wight – Saturday 28 May
Volvo Round Ireland Yacht Race: Starts Wicklow, Ireland – Saturday 18 June
Quebec – St Malo: Starts Quebec, Canada – Saturday 10 July

Published in Round Ireland

Kerry yachtsman Damian Foxall shattered a long standing American Yacht Racing record at the weekend when his MOD 70 Orion crossed the finish line of the Newport to Ensenada Race in 5 hours, 17 minutes, 26 seconds, smashing the former record of 6:46:40, set by the late Steve Fossett on the yacht Stars and Stripes in 1998 by more than 1 hour, 29 minutes.

It sets up Ireland's top offshore racer nicely for his next campaign when he rejoins the MOD 70 Omansail for RORC's Myth of Malham race before the Round Ireland race race in eight weeks time, a race previewed by WM Nixon at the weekend. Foxall joins Oman Sail in France next week. 

Orion, the MOD70 based in the San Francisco Bay area and owned by Tom Siebel broke the fastest elapsed time record in the International Yacht Race.

Foxall was racing with a top Amercian crew. After finishing the record breaking run, fellow crew member Peter Isler said: 'Another course record for the MOD 70 Orion. This one is going to be hard to beat we had a great team, an amazing boat and beautiful sailing conditions!'

In a race press release organisers said:  Orion crossed the finish line with an incredible time of 5:17:26. This demolishes the old record of 6:46:40, set by the late Steve Fossett on the yacht Stars and Stripes in 1998, by more than 1 hour and 29 minutes.

Earlier in the day, Orion crossed the start line ahead of its two classmates. Apparently, it never looked back. Winds at the start were a modest 8 to 9 knots. But all classes caught the steady gusts and were horizon bound by 12:30 p.m.

Mighty Merloe, the 60 ORMA that has been dueling with Orion for first to finish honors the past three years, followed just 20 minutes later with a time of 5:37:18 – also breaking the old record by more than an hour. Orion is also expected to win its class based on a corrected time of 12:26:36. The Orion crew had turned the boat around and was heading North before many of the race organizers were able to arrive from Newport Beach.

A series of accidents and heavy traffic on I5 and at the border crossing meant many of the hardworking race hosts missed seeing the historic finish.

But unlike the year when Dennis Conner set a record, the finish boat was in place to record the record time. “What a historic occasion,” said NOSA Commodore Dave Shockley. “Although there have been much advancement in yacht design and construction since the previous record was set, I’m sure the skill and dedication of the crew had much to do with shattering the old record.” Some of the shore-side sailors estimated the record breaking run meant Orion averaged 25 knots an hour over the 125-mile course. “The stars really aligned this year – fabulous boats and crew members were able to take advantage of great weather conditions,” Shockley said. “In sailboat racing, to beat a record by that much is really prenominal.”

Published in Offshore
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The Round Ireland Speed Record champion, the MOD 70 trimaran Oman sail continues to search for a missing crew member lost overboard.

Mohammed Al Alawi, 26-year-old crew member of MOD70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail remains missing this evening following a Man Overboard incident last Wednesday 7 October in the early hours of the morning, pre-dawn, just south of Pula in Croatia while the MOD70 was en route from France to Trieste in Italy for the Barcolana.

Musandam-Oman Sail - flagship of the Sultanate of Oman - successfully completed a Round Ireland speed sailing record attempt last May taking three hours off the 22–year–old record, breaking Steve Fossett's long standing record of 44 hours with Lakota in 1993. Her crew that did not include the missing sailor were based at the National Yacht Club in Dun Laoghaire.

Day four and the extensive search for Mohammed continues and the search area has extended into Italian waters; the search team has been a mix of Oman Sail, private search and rescue companies and the Croatian coastguard, using helicopters, airplanes, and boats including Musandam-Oman Sail. Today's inclement weather of strong easterly winds, limited visibility and rain was not conducive to a detailed search.

Ahmed Al Alawi, father of Mohammed, who is in Croatia with the team said "We [the family] extend our deep gratitude to all who are supporting this search, especially the Omani Government, the staff of Oman Sail, Her Excellency The Sultanate of Oman's Honorary Consul of Croatia and the Croatian Coastguard who have been exemplary. We have been inundated with heart-felt messages of support which are much appreciated." The search continues.

Search updates can be found here

Published in News Update
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A highly varied fleet with fascinating competitors will set off on 28th November from Lanzarote - the most eastern island in the Canary Islands chain - bound for the island of Grenada in the Caribbean in the RORC Transatlantic Race, organised by The Royal Ocean Racing Club in association with The International Maxi Association.
 
Two MOD 70s will be locking horns in the 2015 RORC Transatlantic Race, aiming for line honours and victory in a highly competitive, high-speed duel: Lloyd Thornburg's Phaedo^3 and Tony Lawson's Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield are capable of a top speed in excess of 40 knots and an average 25 knots for the race. Two of the world's fastest multihulls could complete the 3000 nautical mile course in just five days.
 
The two MOD 70s have raced each other twice. Concise 10 got the better of Phaedo 3 in the Artemis Challenge, around the Isle of Wight Race and Phaedo 3 squared the match, beating Concise 10 in the Rolex Fastnet Race. The RORC Transatlantic Race will be the first transoceanic race between two fully crewed MOD 70s for over three years and it is highly likely that the race will be incredibly close. In the last fully crewed Transatlantic Race featuring MOD 70s, three teams finished within two hours of each other.
 
Concise 10 was launched this summer and broke the RORC Cowes-Dinard-St Malo race record in its debut offshore race. Concise 10 crew includes the world speed record holder, Paul Larsen, who achieved over 65 knots in Sailrocket, IMOCA 60 sailor Jonny Malbon plus Wouter Verbraak and Andy Meiklejohn from the Volvo Ocean Race.
 
British sailor and RORC member, Ned Collier Wakefield has been with Team Concise since it was launched in 2006. At just 21 years of age, Ned started to race in the Class 40 division with immediate success, setting the 40ft record for Round the Isle of Wight, the RORC Caribbean 600 Class 40 record and winning the Class 40 World Championship. In 2011 Ned skippered a young team to win class in the Transatlantic Race and set a world record for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race. Ned is still only 27 and is new to multihull racing:
 
"This has been a very steep learning curve. We are still learning every time we go out and we have been lucky enough to get a lot of sailing in this summer with structured learning sessions, but we still have a lot to learn," commented Ned Collier Wakefield. "It is totally exhilarating to be on the tiller of Concise 10. The whole team are able to drive at a high level and in certain conditions, we are changing over the driver very quickly. The speed that it is capable of is incredible and you have to keep your wits about you and stay on the ball, as you have the ultimate control over the power of the boat.
 
"On a reach, the apparent wind can be as much as 60 knots. That is a hell of a lot of wind going across the deck; you can't hear each other at all and the boat speed is 30 knots, it is amazing. The sensation on a reach is really violent, it is hard to move around the boat and you really have to hang on. We will be using the delivery down to Lanzarote as part of our training with the full race crew. It will be the longest and the furthest we have sailed on the boat. We will be getting to Lanzarote about 10 days before the start of the race and continue to practice intensively in the trade winds and Atlantic swell, which will be the conditions for the race. For sure we are out to win, but there is mutual respect between the two teams and Brian (Thompson) doesn't hold back when it comes to advice. It will be a full-on race but we are looking out for each other as well."
 
Phaedo 3 shot to fame in February this year breaking the RORC Caribbean 600 record which has stood since the first edition in 2009. During 2015, the records in the Caribbean just kept tumbling, including the Round Antigua and Round St. Maarten course records and the Antigua to Newport Record. Lloyd Thornburg's team includes Extreme 40 champion Pete Cumming, Figaro and Class 40 sailor Sam Goodchild, Warren Fitzgerald from the Hydroptère project and Miles Seddon, performance analyst for Team SCA. Phaedo 3 's co-skipper is Jules Verne record holder, Brian Thompson.
 
Brian Thompson started his professional career by winning the 1992 OSTAR single-handed transatlantic race in which he sailed his own 35' wooden trimaran Transient, and since then his record in offshore sailing speaks for itself, having broken an astonishing 30 world records and clocking up close to 300,000 ocean miles in multihulls alone. His greatest achievement to date was setting the current Jules Verne Round the World record in 2012, as part of Loic Peyron's crew on Banque Populaire V. Highlights of his achievements before the Jules Verne win would include winning the 2004 Quebec St Malo Race and in the same setting the Round the World Record on Cheyenne and winning the Oryx Quest Round the World Race in 2005.
 
"There is no difference in speed between the two boats and it will come down to tactics and navigation," explains Thompson. "The MOD 70 is the best boat in the world; super-fast, very strong and reasonably safe offshore. In terms of navigation, once we leave Lanzarote we will have to negotiate the Canary Islands which will be an interesting conundrum before heading towards Grenada. Then it is principally a downwind course, although at this time of year, there is the choice of going north to hook into a cold front or going south to find the trade winds. During the race, squalls are always a big factor and this is a very open race course, so we could be hundreds of miles apart, but we will be watching each other and I think this will be a really close race. The last few hours could be very interesting. Which side of Barbados to go will be in the mix and we could see some double bluffing going on. It is quite rare to have this opportunity and a big thank you to the RORC for organising the race. We are very glad to be supporting it and the RORC Transatlantic Race is the perfect way to arrive for the RORC Caribbean 600."
Published in RORC

#roundirelandspeedrecord – Musandam-Oman Sail - flagship of the Sultanate of Oman - completed the Round Ireland speed sailing record attempt this morning just before 1100 taking three hours off the 22–year–old record, breaking Steve Fossett's long standing record of 44 hours with Lakota in 1993.

The 70–foot Multihull screamed past the Muglins Rocks on the outskirts of Dublin bay at over 30–knots to claim the record in a time of 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds.

The record officiated by Irish speed sailing commissioner Chris Moore from onboard a DBSC committee vessel has yet to be ratified by the World Speed Sailing Record Council.

On coming ashore at the National Yacht Club the first call by French Skipper Sidney Gavignet was for a doctor to treat a crewmans shoulder due to an injury sustained on the 700–mle journey that started at 6pm on Bank Holiday Monday

Onboard with Gavignet are Alex Pella from Spain and Jean Baptiste Levaillant together with three Omani sailors and skipper Gavignet. Sadly for this attempt, Ireland's offshore supremo Damian Foxall was not on the crew list.

Strong winds this morning on the Wicklow coast presented ideal conditions for the closing stages of the record attempt for the professional crew who travelled the last 100–km in little over two hours. The scenario was much different to 12 hours earlier when the 70–footer was more–or–less beclamed off the Mayo coast.

The tired and successful crew came ashore at lunch–time and ordered steak and chips at the National Yacht Club to celebrate the fastest ever sailing circumnavigation of Ireland.

"This is a great accomplishment for Oman and Oman Sail," said David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail. "Attempting to break the Round Ireland record has been our goal for many years now and achieving the feat is a shining example of the hard work and dedication of our sailing squad. Racing against yourself to set a time is the hardest test of discipline. The team must remain focused and motivated at all times, and we have instilled these values since the start of the Oman Sail programme. With a 50% Omani crew, this record shows that the present and the future of sailing in Oman is on the right course."

The crew needed to be back by 1500 to take the record but their breakneck speeds down the west coast of Ireland, at one stage reaching 38 knots, meant they were finished well before that, some three hours and 50 minutes faster than the 44 hours and 42 minutes set by Steve Fossett in his first ever world record back in September 1993 aboard his 60ft trimaran Lakota.

Helmsman Fahad Al Hasni said this record attempt coming at the end of a European winter, had proved tough.

"It was both scary and exciting because we saw 40 knots of wind and massive waves that we reckoned were around six metres but the main challenge was the cold," said Al Hasni.

"It is still winter here and my hands were so cold I still can't feel them but I'm really happy because there have been some very famous sailors who have made attempts on this record but we are the ones who now hold it. We have become a really good, tough team and it feels great to be part of it."

It had been a challenging but amazing experience for the Omani sailors, added Gavignet, who was full of praise for his crew.

"This was a real test for them and they came through with flying colours – the whole crew put in a great effort.

"We had to be very careful in these conditions and had no choice but to slow down at times but to have achieved the record so early in our season is a great feeling. It had been a priority and now it is done."

This was Musandam-Oman Sail's second attempt on the Round Ireland record. Two years ago they set off from Dublin Bay with high hopes but were forced to abandon due to unsafe conditions.

Today was a different story and everyone on board was delighted to add this one to their burgeoning collection.

Oman_0184.jpg

Mission accomplished! The giant Tri completes its 700–mile voyage in record time this morning. Photo: Michael Chester 

Read also articles by WM Nixon: 

Round Ireland Speed Sailing Record Times and It May Be A New Round Ireland Record But The Three Hour Margin Tells Us What A Great Job Lakota Did 22 Years Ago

Published in Offshore
Tagged under

#offshore – Violent low-pressure systems sweeping in from the West forced the Transat Jacques Vabre race committee to postpone the start of the 11th edition for the second time and to cancel the MOD70 20nm prologue for the Sultanate of Oman's flagship campaign Oman Air-Musandam and their competitor, Edmond de Rothschild.

Originally planned for Sunday, weather conditions delayed the scheduled start to Monday for the IMOCA 60s, Class 40s and Multi 50s, with a prologue planned for the two MOD70s, but late Sunday night the race committee decided to further postpone until Thursday at the earliest for all except the MOD70s that might be able to slip out on Wednesday.

"Starting this race in November is always challenging, we had a low pressure come through last night and there is another one coming through tomorrow and the most important thing for the race committee is to get us off safely," said Damian Foxall from Ireland who has over 350,000 nautical miles behind him, a recent Volvo Ocean Race win with Groupama and is on his third Transat Jacques Vabre.

Oman Air-Musandam skipper, Sidney Gavignet (FRA), who has his fair share of single-handed, double-handed and Volvo Ocean Races under his belt explained the challenges that the race committee faces: "The fleet is made up of very fast boats with the MOD70s; intermediate boats with the Multi 50s and the IMOCA 60s and then the Class 40s which are a bit slower and mixed amateur and professional crews. For this reason it is very difficult to find a window.

"It is easier for us because we go quickly so we need a small window of opportunity to get out of the English Channel and to Finisterre from where we can consider we are in good shape, still very safety conscious, of course, but looking for speed as well. For the Class 40s it takes some time to get out of the Channel and through Biscay, so it is more complicated," he said.

"The MOD70s are very seaworthy boats, they are one design, well built and really reliable. We have been sailing them hard all year in very rough conditions, but of course with the current conditions of very high westerlies blowing against the tide, the sea state is very steep and rough. They are boat-breaking conditions out there right now," added Damian.

For the race organisation sending a fleet of 43 boats out – that is 86 people on the water – is a major decision and a big responsibility. "It is hard. I think they made the right decision to delay, these conditions are boat breaking – in Biscay there is a 4 to 5 metre sea state whipped up by the westerlies that have been blowing for the last three days, but now the challenge is to find the right window to start," said Sidney.

In the meantime, the Oman Air-Musandam duo will continue with their routine of gym, weather checks and boat checks until the race committee calls for a start.

"We are ready to go and looking forward to the warmer weather in the South!" said Sidney as the skies opened once more over Le Havre.

TV Interviews with Damian Foxall (IRL) and Sidney Gavignet (FRA) in French and English on the weather and the postponement will be available from 1800CET

Published in Offshore

#roundireland– In spite of identfiying a weather window for a bid on the Round Ireland speed record early yesterday morning, Sidney Gavignet and Damian Foxall's French based Oman Sail cancelled their attempt when the weather forecast changed. It is the third time this year that Ireland's Damian Foxall and the team of Omansail have ditched plans for an attempt on the speed sailing record.

Instead of a circumnavigation of Ireland, the MOD70 trimaran, completed a training run between its home base at L'Orient, France and the Fastnet Rock off the Cork coast, according to the World Speed Sailing Record (WSSR) Commissioner in Ireland, Chris Moore, at the National Yacht Club.

For a time it looked like an anti–clockwise bid might produce the required conditions on Sunday to break the 44-hour time, coincidentally marking the 20th anniversary of the 1993 record set by Steve Fossett, Con Murphy and Cathy MacAleavey.

Foxall and the crew came to Ireland in March for a dedicated attempt but were beaten back by gales on the Welsh coast. Their attempt was also foiled by the weather in June too. For now, the 20–year record set by the late adventurer Steve Fossett on the Lakota Catamaran lives on. Perhaps Foxall and Omansail might make it fourth time lucky sometime soon? 

Published in News Update
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#VOR - The Volvo Ocean Race team caught up with Ireland's own Damian Foxall on board Sidney Gavignet's MOF 70 yacht Oman Sail with fellow VOR veteran Neal McDonald.

As reported in March on Afloat.ie, Ireland's top offshore sailor - and watch-leader for last year's VOR-winning team Groupama - is part of an international crew that attempted to break the Round Ireland speed record that was unfortunately abandoned due to the harsh wintry conditions.

But Foxall vowed that a repeat attempt is on the cards, and tells the VOR website that his experience on Oman Sail "is exactly what I wanted to do after the Volvo. I just wanted to sail with a smaller team of friends, racing with a good crew."

He added: "Sidney, Neal and I have been sailing and working a lot together. It’s a very natural thing and it’s a pleasure.”

Foxall also sings the praises of the MOD 70 one design, heralding the future of the Volvo Ocean Race and the new VOR 65 yacht.

"It’s light in terms of logistics and repairs. On the water too, I’m looking forward to enjoy the best of the One Design sailing – the battle on the water and not in the boatyard."

Published in Volvo Ocean Race
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