MUSCAT– It was not a day for breaking records yet but the Artemis Challenge proved an ideal dress rehearsal for the crew on Musandam-Oman Sail ahead of the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race starting on Sunday(August 10th) .
Damian Foxall’s crew, with Jan Dekker, Sami Al Shukaili, Yassir Al Rahbi and young British RSX windsurfer and Olympic hopeful, Connor Bainbridge, completed the circuit, which was shortened due to the lack of breeze, in 4 hours 21 minutes and 35 seconds, just moments behind rival multihull Prince de Bretagne.
After a light airs start, which saw the fleet dawdle all the way to the Needles, Oman Sail’s MOD70 became locked into a duel with their bigger counterparts which, according to Foxall, proved perfect preparation for the 1800 nm Round Britain and Ireland race.
“We missed out on line honours but the guys sailed a great race so I was more than happy with the way it went,” Foxall said.
“It was a great opportunity for all of us to practice and especially Sami and Yassir who are quite new to the programme, the Round Britain and Ireland is a big challenge so this was a great chance for them. It was perfect preparation because we had all sorts of conditions so there was a good chance to test systems and make sure the guys are all happy in their roles.”
“Our main objective now is to break the Round Britain and Ireland Race record so we are really looking forward to that.”
For 20 year-old Connor Bainbridge, a member of the British RS:X squad, the race on the MOD70 marked a departure from his training schedule with the RYA ahead of the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander next month.
“It was my first ever time on one of these but I was able to get involved and was able to do a bit of winching and a bit of helming which was fantastic,” he said.
“Being part of a team where communication is key was fascinating – I am normally on a board on my own so it was a real eye opener.
“It was also great to get an insight into the Oman Sail programme. I have watched their young RSX sailor Waleed Al Kindi from a distance and it all looks really promising.
“I reckon that Oman will be a big player at the top end of sailing in the future.”
Musandam- Oman Sail skipper Sidney Gavignet and his star bowman Fahad Al Hassani arrive in Cowes on Friday and together with Foxall, Dekker, Al Shukaili and Al Rahbi, will spend time making last minute preparations and studying the weather ahead of Sunday’s start.