Oman Sail takes part in ArMen race, women’s team set for GP test
In just three years, the ArMen Race has become a must-do event for professional and amateur sailors alike and the fleet attracts Ultimes, IMOCAs, Multi50s, Class40s, Minis, IRC boats and many more to the 450nm racecourse. With a record 170 crews racing the 4th edition, this event, known as the ‘Breton Fastnet’, is a unique challenge for the MOD70 crew and part of the ongoing learning curve for the Omani sailors onboard.
“We love this event, it is very good for the team and also for our sponsor, offering the Sultanate of Oman good exposure in France – being very intense, it is closely followed by enthusiasts. Weaving between the islands that are scattered along the course will be excellent training for us all, but especially for our three Omani team-mates,” said skipper Sidney Gavignet who is racing his third ArMen Race for Oman Sail.
“Fahad al Hasni, Ali al Balushi and Mohammed al Mujaini will all be onboard the M34 for the Tour de France a la Voile, so this is an important teaching and training opportunity for us. It is not so much about performance, although with another Multi 70 on the start line there is always the temptation!” he said.
His colleague Ali al Balushi is enjoying the intensity of the training and racing this season, which has been split between the M34 and the MOD70. “Mohammed and I have been working hard to get up to speed with the MOD70 and have been leaning on Fahad quite a lot as he has a few years of MOD experience already behind him.
“We are making progress every day and are keen to measure ourselves against another Multi 70 this weekend. Working on both the M34 and the MOD programmes has accelerated our learning which is very satisfying.”
The Oman Sail J80 women’s team were also racing this weekend in a whopping fleet of 190 boats a little further around the coast in Finisterre at the Grand Prix de l’Ecole Navale. The all-women crew includes Rajaa al Owaisi, Ibtisam al Salmi and Nashwa al Kindi, guided by British Olympic sailor Mary Rook, and aim to continue working on and improving boat handling while getting to grips with the rules of engagement. Ibtisam al Salmi who is the trimmer onboard is keen to learn more about the rules this week and to start putting into practice their learning. “We sailed a lot back in Oman after Spi Ouest to stay fresh and keep learning, also to improve our fitness levels and work on our strategy and the rules. We are feeling more confident little by little.”
After the GP Ecole Navale, the J80 will head to Normandy Sailing Week (June 9-15) before focussing on final preparations for the J80 Europeans in Barcelona at the end of the month (June27-July 4). The MOD70, Musandam-Oman Sail, will head to Kiel for the famous celebration of sail, Kieler Woche (June 21-29), where the beauty of the Sultanate will be on display at the tourism exhibition in the race village. With 2,000 boats, 5,000 sailors and 3 million visitors expected, Kiel Week is an important stop over for the Sultanate of Oman’s flagship campaign that is promoting the country as a high-end tourist destination in its key markets around Europe this summer.