(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) Oman Sail's flagship MOD70 team, on board Musandam-Oman Sail, got the racing season off to a flying start in Douarnenez, France at the Grand Prix Guyader recently with a majority Omani crew onboard for the first time.
As it was the first regatta on the MOD70 since the Transat Jacques Vabre last November, the objectives were to learn the boat and to continue developing the Omani sailors that make up the MOD70 and M34 squad for 2014 in a race environment.
The format from May 2-5 with its stadium racing and speed runs was the perfect platform for some swift learning and a good warm-up towards the next phase of the Grand Prix which kicks off on May 8 onboard the M34.
The M34 fleet includes a number of Oman Sail's closest rivals for the Tour de France a la Voile so will prove a useful benchmark event.
French skipper Sidney Gavignet was pleased with the opening round of racing on the MOD70 despite the light winds. He said, ''The format of this event was perfect for teaching our Omani teammates boat handling onboard a MOD70.
Fahad al Hasni, who has raced the MOD with me for a couple of years, played his role of teacher very well and the guys were attentive and enthusiastic. This regatta was a really good training opportunity for us.''
The MOD70 crew was made up of Fahad, Sidney, Damian Foxall and Gilles Favennec - all regulars on the trimaran - along with Oman Sail's regular M34 squad of Cedric Pouligny, Ali al Balushi, Mohammed al Mujaini, Sami al Shukaily and Yasser al Rahbi.
Both MOD70 first-timers, Balushi and Shukaily were thrilled from the experience. ''The boat was so fast,'' said Sami. ''It was a superb experience, the speed and boat handling means you cannot switch off for a second. As a grinder, I realised that we need more strength, so I'll be going back to Oman between regattas with a plan for a targeted physical training programme,'' he said.
Balushi, who was bowman said, ''We are working hard on developing Omani ability on the MOD70 and this week was an excellent next step. I certainly learned a lot and am looking forward to using the experience in the M34 when we start racing