The final countdown has begun for Oman Sail’s Class 40 team as they prepare for the start of the 4,350-mile Transat Jacques Vabre from Le Havre to Brazil.
With just a month to go to the November 5th start of the now classic two-handed ocean race, Sidney Gavignet and his co-skipper Fahad Al Hasni are making final preparations and focusing on the many small – and a few large – details that can make the difference between success and failure.
The French ocean racing veteran Gavignet is quietly confident in their Oman Sail Class 40. Speaking soon after returning to the yacht’s home port of Lorient from the Grand Pavois boat show in La Rochelle – where the Sultanate of Oman was the event’s guest of honour – Gavignet was able to reflect on some recent and successful training.
“We did two sessions with other boats, I think some of the best six which will be in the Transat Jacques Vabre, and we are definitely in the pack,” he said.
“For the race we have a number of goals, the first of which is of course to finish the race in a good place. The second is to do what I would call a clean job, and by that I mean a top six finish. Fifth is better, of course, and fourth becomes a good race, and a top three is a real result,” he adds.
Al Hasni also believes they have made progress in what has been their debut season in the competitive class, while along the way he has made a bit of maritime history in becoming the first Omani sailor to take part in a two-handed offshore event.
“This will be our third competitive race in the Class 40 and we have learnt a lot from our experience in the first two,” said Al Hasni. “With all that we have now learned I hope we can show what the boat is capable of. Sidney has a lot of experience and I am sure we will make the right decisions at the right time.”
Gavignet and Al Hasni finished the opening event in their year-long campaign – Les Sables-Horta-Les Sables race – in seventh place, then improved their performance to claim fifth in the Rolex Fastnet Race in August among a highly competitive 26-strong Class 40 fleet.
With the clock counting down towards the start, the Oman Sail team is now ticking off items on the lengthy to-do list which includes everything from ordering the lightweight freeze-dried food Gavignet and Al Hasni will live on for around three weeks, to taking delivery of two new sails which will fill gaps they have identified in their sail armoury.
Adjustments to the mast and some significant modifications to the yacht’s twin rudders have also paid off in terms of performance.
Equally importantly, Gavignet has been taking training sessions on the state-of-the-art weather and navigational software that is now available, improving Oman Sail’s prospects of making quick progress through the many weather systems that lie between the north coast of France and the finish of the Transat Jacques Vabre Salvador in Brazil.