Displaying items by tag: Damian Foxall
Three high speed MOD70s are closing in on the Volvo Round Ireland Race finish line at Wicklow, for what might yet be a record breaking time, early tomorrow morning. In an exclusive pre–start video (below) for Afloat.ie, Digby Fox interviewed County Kerry sailor Damian Foxall onboard Round Ireland record holder Musandam Oman, currently off Rathlin Island.
In this video, Foxall, a Volvo Ocean Race winner, who has sailed eight round the world races, reveals he has never sailed Round Ireland! And Foxall's crew–mates, including skipper Sidney Gavignet, give an insight into sailing the fastest boats in the world and the importance of their 2015 record.
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
French skipper Sidney Gavignet’s crew of Omani sailors are no strangers to the 700 mile Round Ireland race track having famously smashed the record in 2015 after completing the course in 40 hours, 51 minutes and 57 seconds, some four hours faster than anything achieved previously. As a result, there will be an extra incentive for Kerry sailor Damian Foxall who despite previous bids was not onboard for the record breaking run last year. Foxall rejoins the crew for the Round Ireland in six weeks time and is very much looking to the multihulls debut in this year's offshore classic.
Fahad Al Hasni, Yasser Al Rahbi and Sami Al Shukaili were all on board for the record-breaking voyage and all return to action for the Round Ireland Race.
The team has developed a strong bond, says Gavignet so the prospect of lining up against other professional MOD70 crews in June for the start in Wicklow, to follow a course that leaves Ireland and all its islands excluding Rockall to starboard, serves to stir their competitive spirits.
“This Omani crew has a long history – last season especially was very demanding – so we have a very good team with a great team spirit,” said skipper Gavignet.
“We would like to win the race but know it will not be easy because the other MOD70s have been sailing a lot in the past few months. We have trained hard and the guys are performing at a different level now so we are very happy to go and do our best against the others.
“We hold the record but it is possible to do better and it is likely that whoever wins will set a new record, depending on the conditions. It is very exciting to be racing against Phaedo and Concise – it will be a good contest.”
Preparations for the race have included some intensive training offshore as well as participation in the Grand Prix Guyader in Douarnenez, France, last weekend where the Omani Diam 24 team onboard Oman Airports by Oman Sail finished in 3rd place.
This weekend MOD70 sailors Fahad, Sami and Yasser are due to compete on Oman Sail’s J80 at the Grand Prix Ecole Navale at the French Naval Academy in Lanvéoc to get some crucial fleet race practice.
Success in sailing against the clock for a speed record requires a different mindset to racing in a fleet, said Fahad, Oman’s most experienced and successful offshore sailor.
“Competing with other boats in the Round Ireland race will be different to breaking the record and probably a lot more difficult,” he said.
“The other MOD70s have been training and racing all year and have achieved some good results so they will be hard to beat. But we will be sailing the boat as fast as we can and if we can win, it will be fantastic for us because this is a two thirds Omani crew.”
Records are one thing but when you get two boats racing side by side, the results speak for themselves, commented Damian Foxall, acknowledged as Ireland’s most accomplished ocean sailor.
“This season, our campaigns are all about fleet racing. When you are racing against the clock, you never know if you are performing 100% but in fleet racing, if you are not going 100%, you probably aren’t winning. And you know pretty quickly whether you have taken a good or bad option.
“Fleet racing is more like a game of chess and what the other boats do on the course can affect your own tactics. So you have to be on your game 100% all the time and sail a lot harder. Our guys understand that completely.”
A couple of years ago, Musandam-Oman Sail would have been favourite to win the multihull class, Foxall continued but an upsurge in activity on the other MOD70s means they have a contest on their hands.
“The guys on Phaedo and Concise are sailing extremely well now so a couple of years ago, we might have been favourites but that is certainly no longer the case and we are going to have to compete really hard to get a result this year. But we know how to sail the boat so this is great and exactly how it should be.”
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.”
Ireland's top offshore sailor Damian Foxall, a Round the World Race winner, will compete in June's 2016 Volvo Round Ireland (VRI) Race from Wicklow. Kerryman Foxall will race on the MOD 70 Musandam – OmanSail, one of two of the fastest multihulls in the world to enter the Irish classic.
Ned Collier-Wakefield will bring the second MOD 70, Concise 10, to Wicklow having picked up his weight in rum as the prize for winning the Grand Prix Multihull event. Wakefield alos smashed the all-time course record in the Mount Gay Rum Round Barbados Race in March.
Musandam – OmanSail holds the record for a circumnavigation of the island of Ireland under sail, achieved in May of last year and the team are looking forward to beating this record in a race setting. The Omani team in 2016 will be much the same as last year, under skipper Sidney Gavignet.
The official race record for a monohull is held by Mike Slade who completed the race in 2 days 17 hours 48 minutes 47 seconds in ICAP Leopard 3 in 2008.
This record was under threat once George David signalled his intention to enter Rambler 88 in the 2016 VRI race. Rambler was first monohull home in last November's Rolex Middle Sea Race 2015.
Hurtling around the Caribbean at speeds in excess of 30 knots and topping out nearer 40, often barely a boat length apart, the epic duel between MOD70s Concise 10 and Phaedo3 came to a conclusion after 32 hours of hot racing earlier this week. Lloyd Thornburg's MOD70 Phaedo3, co-skippered by Brian Thompson with Damian Foxall onboard crossed the finish line at Fort Charlotte in an elapsed time of 31 hours, 59 minutes, 04 seconds, breaking their own multihull race record set last year by 1 hour 34 minutes 26 seconds.
Barely out of sight of each other the entire race, Tony Lawson's MOD70 Concise 10, skippered by Ned Collier Wakefield was just 9mins 52 seconds behind. The superyachts in Falmouth Harbour heralded the arrival of Phaedo3 and Concise 10 with a cacophony of horns as hundreds of race fans gathered dockside to cheer the two teams to the dock.
#vor – The Volvo Ocean Race fleet has slightly converged in the past 12 hours as they approach the corner of the South American continent, where the Brazilian coast sketches a right angle at the end of the most easterly littoral of Brazil.
At Cape Calcanhar, located 40 nm north of the city of Natal, there is a lighthouse of 62 meters height that is the tallest in Brazil.
Dongfeng Race Team will approach this point holding an 8.1 nm lead on MAPFRE, who are just half of mile ahead of Team Brunel. 10 nm behind the lead back is Team SCA, currently the most easterly of the six boats, out of the trail of the pack.
Also 10 nm off the leading group is Team Alvimedica, only 0.5 nm miles ahead of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing.
Once the fleet has passed the shoulder of the continent, they will take up their positions to deal with the doldrums. The good news is that at the moment the routing is showing no big drama to deal with the Intertropical Convergence Zone.
The fleet will be crossing the Equator around Tuesday noon.
#fastnet – The world's largest, most diverse fleet of offshore racing yachts will set sail from the Solent on 16th August in the Royal Ocean Racing Club's biennial Rolex Fastnet Race. 2015 marks the 90th anniversary of the Royal Ocean Racing Club and with it a record-sized fleet with as many as 350 boats expected to take part. Ireland's Damian Foxall will be one of many Irish sailors competing. The Round the world veteran will be on board Musandam-Oman Sail.
As ever the 603 mile course takes the fleet west along the south coast of England, across the Celtic Sea to the Fastnet Rock off the tip of southwest Ireland, south around Bishop Rock and the Scilly Isles and back east to the finish in Plymouth. Conditions on the race course can range from benign and summery to vicious and stormy and the event is well remembered for the horrific conditions in 1979 that claimed the lives of 15 competitors. Fortunately vast improvements in weather forecasting, safety and communications equipment as well as yacht design over the intervening years mean that a repeat of this disaster today is unlikely.
The Rolex Fastnet Race is also one of the most popular events in sailing: the original limit of 300 boats racing for the overall handicap prize under IRC was increased to 340 in 2013 due to the increased demand. This is more than twice as many places as the next most popular of other 600 mile races held elsewhere the world and still, when registration opened in January, all 340 places were filled within just 24 minutes! In addition to this group is the 'non-IRC' fleet, including many top grand prix race boat classes such as the IMOCA 60s, that compete in the Vendee Globe singlehanded non-stop round the world race, and the Class 40s.
As always, one of the attractive elements of the Rolex Fastnet Race is its diversity. At one end of the spectrum are the high profile professional sailing teams who congregate on the Solent from the four corners of the globe, many fielding the world's biggest, fastest, most state of the art racing yachts. At the other end are the Corinthian entries, where individual crew will be embarking on what for them will be their own personal Everest - the culmination of a season's training that will have included at least 300 miles of offshore racing (the mandatory requirement to qualify for Rolex Fastnet Race entry).
One of the important battles is the race for monohull line honours which this year looks set to be a much anticipated heavyweight bout between the two brand new American maxis: George David's 88ft Rambler 88 and the 100ft Comanche of Jim Clark. Both are brand new, launched late last year and some gauge of their form will take place when both compete in the Transatlantic Race between Newport, Rhode Island and the Lizard (and on to Cowes).
Another battle to watch out for will be the battle of the multihulls which this year includes the world's fastest race boat - the 131ft (40m) trimaran, Spindrift racing, skippered by Yann Guichard and Dona Bertarelli. In 2009 this boat covered 908.2 miles a day at an average speed of 37.84 knots and has been first home in the last two Rolex Fastnet Races.
However nipping at her heels will be the three MOD70 trimarans including Musandam-Oman Sail, skippered by Sidney Gavignet. This boat last year sailed an exceptional Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race, setting not only a race record time, but also becoming the outright record holder for the Round Britain and Ireland course.
"I am looking forward to this race," says Gavignet of the Rolex Fastnet. "It is the big race of our season, so we take it seriously. It has such an impressive line-up. Races like the Fastnet are very important for sailing because it is a classic and you know that it will always be there every two years."
Once again Musandam-Oman Sail will be using the event in its continued programme of training up Omani sailors and three will be competing on board alongside Gavignet and round the world sailor Damian Foxall.
At the Corinthian end of the fleet, charter and sailing school entries are swelling in number. Typically these companies sell berths to individuals for the season enabling them to carry out their qualifications.
Hamble School of Yachting, for example, is fielding two Jeanneau Sun Fast 37s, each with six amateur crew plus a professional skipper and mate. "It is a bucket list item - something they have always wanted to do," says Director Chris Rushton of the attraction to his customers. "They are all first timers of mixed ability but a lot of them haven't done any racing before."
Their crew have already completed their ISAF Sea Survival and First Aid courses and this season will compete in the RORC's Myth of Malham, De Guingand Bowl and Cowes-Dinard-St Malo races as their qualification.
Eddie Warden Owen, Chief Executive of the Royal Ocean Racing Club explains the uniqueness of the Rolex Fastnet Race:
"The Rolex Fastnet Race is a world classic and probably the largest, most famous of its type. This year the demand has been huge with places selling out in 24 minutes and a waiting list of over 80 boats. The challenge for many is completing what can be a very tough adventure, but also its attraction for the experienced offshore racer is that they can compete with the top professionally raced yachts and have a realistic chance of winning. In 2013 the race was won by a very experienced father and son team sailing two handed which shows that anyone has a chance of winning the most prestigious race in the world calendar."
#vor – Dongfeng Race Team with Ireland's Damian Foxall onboard announced late last night that they plan to retire from Leg 5 of the Volvo Ocean Race after breaking their mast in the Southern Ocean. Skipper Charles Caudrelier had considered attempting to re-join the 6,776-nautical mile stage from Auckland to Itajaí after successfully nursing Dongfeng to Ushuaia, Argentina, earlier in the day.
But on Tuesday night, a statement from the team read: "The decision has been made to motor-sail to Itajaí and not rejoin the race – although skipper Caudrelier has yet to officially retire from the leg at this time, it is just a matter of protocol now.
"He will not relish this part of the administrative process and if there had been any other timely and effective way to rejoin the race and get to Brazil, he would have undoubtedly taken it.
"But even under motor-sail the delivery trip is expected to take around 10-12 days and then add the days needed to refit the boat in time for the start of Leg 6 to Newport.
"Trying to rejoin the race which would mean returning to the point they started using the engine at the western entrance of the (Beagle) Channel then sail south around Cape Horn would prove to be too risky, especially with rig and sails not fully fit for racing.
"It wasn't safe to enter the Beagle Channel without the engine, even if it would have left more options for a racing departure."
By motoring to Itajaí, they will buy some time to make the repairs ready to start Leg 6 to Newport - although it will still be tight. The fleet is due to depart on April 19.
Dongfeng Race Team plan to leave Ushuaia for Itajaí on Wednesday evening.
At 0315 on Monday, a sickening crack had signaled to Caudrelier and his crew that the top section of the mast had fractured, leaving the boat without full manoueverability.
The decision means that Dongfeng Race Team, who were joint leaders with Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing (Ian Walker/GBR) at the start of the leg, will collect eight points for a Did Not Finish result.
In the latest position report at 1840 UTC on Tuesday, Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing led by 8.8nm from Cape Horn pace-setters, Team Alvimedica (Charlie Enright/USA)
#vor – New dramatic footage of Damian Foxall's stricken Volvo Ocean Race men on the dismasted Dongfeng has emerged with crew man Kevin Escoffier up the mast cutting away the damage as the crew make the necessary sacrifices to stabilise the situation working to secure the mast before entering the Beagle Channel. There's frustration in the Southern Ocean for the Chinese team as Escoffier breaks his grinder while cutting the sail free and as darkness falls it's a race against time for the determined men of Dongfeng.
For the professional offshore sailors of the world, mast breakages (or any sort of damage to the boat) is an unfortunate occupational hazard. That's not to downplay the devastation and disappointment of what happened but for sailors like Damian Foxall, Charles Caudrelier, Martin Strömberg and even Pascal Bidégorry, dismasting in the Southern Ocean is an unfortunate case of déjà vu. These men have been there and done that.
For our rookie Chinese sailors on the other hand, the experience has been shocking, scary and bewildering. The reaction of Liu Xue (Black) is understandably in contrast to the pro crew who know how to manage these kinds of situations. Seen through his eyes, it is a heart wrenching reaction...
Liu Xue (Black): "Speechless, really speechless, I still can't believe this is true. You know one day, only one day we will have passed Cape Horn. Just one step and my dream will have come true, what a shame!"
"I thought a lot when the accident happened. What I wanted to do the most is to let my family to know that I'm safe. Because as the race is going and with more and more media coverage going out, my family started to know more about this leg. My mom was concerned about my safety a lot at some point. Actually there's nothing special, I know that I wouldn't be able to speak with them, I just would like them to know that I'm all good, that's it.
"I was sleeping below when the accident happened, I was shocked when I came on the deck. I have the feeling all the time that this is like in a movie. The 'scenes' of this leg is been played quickly in my brain. I'm not reconciled at all – the team worked closely and we fought so hard. And it's all gone in no time. Nothing left. We were only 240nm and 10 hours away from realising the dream.
"In this short 10 minutes, my dream has been crushed. We've been through so many suffering days before, we fought so hard just for this.
"Our skipper is surprisingly calm this time. He's too calm, we don't even have the feeling that he's just been through such frustration. Probably it's because he has his old mates Pascal, Damian and Martin onboard, and (their presence) gives him energy.
"The presence of Damian is the key of solving this problem. Because he's there, we were not in a panic. His makes us feel confident.
"Pascal is like a kind father this time. He came and touched Wolf's head and my head, comforting us 'it's going to be ok, we still have chance and time'. He even made a joke with me. He told me when he attempted to sail around the Cape Horn 14 years ago, the mast was also broken, and it took them 22 days to reach the Cape Horn after the damage happened, so we are actually lucky this time.
"Everyone's reaction after what happened made me feel warm and touched. Actually I didn't cry, I was just sad. But I wouldn't feel ashamed even if I cry, because the journey of this leg is marvellous. We are learning something new about the ocean every day, we respect the ocean, and also looking forward for the next challenge.
At the beginning of this project, managing expectations of our Chinese sponsors was key. This is ocean racing, something will happen, we have some very inexperienced sailors onboard we must take precautions. Then naturally when something like this happens, telling our partners is not easy. But the support from our partners has been outstanding and demonstrates their appreciation of what taking on the Volvo Ocean Race really means.
"We are sad to know the failure of the mast but happy to know all the team are safe. Please let Charles and his team know we are always with them, safety first, then try to repair the boat and get ready for next fighting!" Gary Huang, Vice President of Dongfeng Trucks.