Sidney Gavignet, Skipper of Oman Air Majan and his team took a short break from their preparation for the Route du Rhum to join their colleagues at Oman Sail and Oman Air to hold a joint press conference at the Grand Hyatt, Muscat in order to elaborate on their plans for one of the world's most famous yacht races.
On October 31st French sailor, Sidney Gavignet, will sail the first Arab boat, a 105 foot trimaran singlehanded across the Atlantic Ocean from St Malo in France to Guadeloupe in the Caribbean. The race, held only once every four years, is considered one of the most high profile events in the international sailing calendar and is the first time a boat from the Middle East is competing.
Representatives from the Ministry of Tourism and the Ministry of Sports Affairs attended the press conference along with the elite of Oman's sailing community. Which included the first Arab to sail non-stop around the world and a core member of the Oman Air Majan crew, Mohsin Al Buisadi and Oman Sail's Saleh Al Jabri, Captain of Jewel of Muscat.
Oman Air who is partnering Oman Sail in the race was represented by its Chief Officer of Corporate Affairs, Philippe Georgiou and Marketing Director, Mohammed Al Shikely.
Moshin Al Buisadi in his address to the media declared his aspiration to be the first Arab to participate in Route du Rhum. He also said, Sailing is in our blood but it requires both financial support for training & equipment. He is overwhelmed by the support both the government – Oman Sail and private companies like Oman Air are lending in helping him achieve his dreams. Route du Rhum is a tough race and will require extreme training and equipment.
Sidney also took the opportunity to talk about the significance of Oman's entry into the Route de Rhum saying, "I am completely enchanted with the Sultanate of Oman and its people. I have huge respect for the wise leadership of His Majesty Sultan Qaboos and it is a great honour for me to be taking part in this world renowned race in such an incredible yacht in Oman's 40th Renaissance year." Sidney also applauded the efforts of Mohsin al Busaidi and Mohammed al Ghailani who are playing a vital role in the campaign as members of Oman Air Majan's support network. He commented, "I look forward to seeing Mohsin or Mohammed or another of Oman's new generation of sailors representing the Sultanate in the Route du Rhum in years to come."
David Graham, CEO of Oman Sail said "Having Sidney Gavignet and Mohsin Al Busaidi back in Muscat is a tremendous boost to the campaign and we thank them and the rest of the team for taking time out of their hectic schedule to be with us today. Oman Sail's long-term objectives are to rekindle the maritime heritage of Oman and promote the Sultanate as a tourist destination for the discerning traveller. Participation in this high profile race with our partners, Oman Air, will help us meet our objectives."
The 3,542 mile Route du Rhum is a thrilling single-handed transatlantic race which has tested many of the world's greatest ocean sailors and is second only to the FIFA World Cup in terms of television and media audience in France. Over 1.2 million visitors are expected at the RaceVillage in the days leading up to the start in St Malo, which will attract around 250,000 spectators. This year there will be around 80 boats on the start line departing for the Caribbean island of Guadeloupe. Oman Air Majan will be competing in a class of eight boats and amongst her rivals are her sister boat, Sodeb'O and Gitana 11, the overall winner of the 2006 race.
Oman Air Majan and Sidney Gavignet have had a busy couple of months preparing for the race. Together they smashed not only the single-handed Round Britain and Ireland world record but also the record held by a fully crewed boat in a time of 4 days 15 hours 9 minutes and 27 seconds. They also participated in the Happy Baie festival in Brittany, France with other competitors in their race class. In the festivals exhibition regatta they came in second place putting Oman's entry firmly in the mind of competitors and sailing fans.
Philip Georgiou of Oman Air said, "Oman Air Majan is a magnificent vessel and we are delighted to be sponsoring her in this high profile international event. At the Festival around 3000 people came on the first day to see and photograph Oman Air Majan, as it is the only boat from the Middle East to take part in the Route du Rhum. We are thrilled that visitors also made many enquiries about the Sultanate's potential in sailing as well as tourism."
Oman Air Majan crew also spent time with local school children. Sidney and Mohsin have amazed the children with their incredible stories that they have faced together whilst being out in the worlds oceans. After their whistle stop visit to the Omani capital the crew will return to their base in France, where they will continue training and will aim to try for further records if the weather is kind to them. Their focus is now solely trained on the 31st October when the first ever boat from the Middle East takes part in this iconic race.