Oman tris reach Maldives

Part of one of the walking of the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race concludes

Friday February 12th 2010, Author: Lou Newlands, Location: Maldives

Oman Sail’s new A100 Majan left Muscat, Oman last Saturday to begin the journey of tracing out the route of the new Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race course that links together the Middle East, Africa, Australia and Central Asia, ahead of the first official edition planned for Spring 2012. Alongside the 105-ft A100 multihull was Oman Sail’s 75-ft multihull Musandam which has already circumnavigated the globe under the Oman Sail banner.

It was a relatively short first leg - only 1,400 miles from Oman to the Maldives - but included passing the first of the five great capes – Ras Al Hadd. Literally meaning ‘the cape’ in Arabic, it is the easternmost point of the Arabian Peninsula and Oman is very proud that this is the point where the suns first rays touch land on rising. Just short of five days of sailing Majan’s crew, skippered by Paul Standbridge, and Musandam reached the island of Male, capital of the Maldives, on Thursday.

The Oman Sail multihulls received a great send off from Muscat and were rewarded on arrival in the Maldives by a small armada of boats flying Omani flags. The first leg of this challenging new course proved to be testing for both crew and boat: “Over the next six hours we sailed under eight different sail combinations to cope with the wind’s fickle mood. We saw as much as 26 knots and as little as zero. Why is it in so many races and crossings the first night at sea, Mother Nature and King Neptune gang up and tries to catch you out?” wrote Mark Covell after the first day at sea. Navigator Thierry Douillard commented: “The weather for this first leg was not really ideal with High Pressure on the direct course, but we managed to cross and for the last two days, we were downwind with full main and gennaker - good fun.”

As the 105ft multihull sped towards its Leg 1 destination, Mark reported: “Like a fast train on a downhill run, we are coming in with pace! The boat hums and whistles to the key of “C”, it’s like she’s on that train but listening to her own iPod, nodding her head with the beat and smiling from hull to hull.”

The brand new A100 trimaran designed by Nigel Irens and Benoit Cabaret endured a bit of a shakedown in the difficult sea state: “We knew about a small crack in the deck just behind the mast rotate pad eye. There was also a small grub screw to hold it all together that was also dipped in Loctite. It just goes to show that our night of shaking, rocking and rolling took its toll. The shock loads that shudder through the hull and rig are huge. If the outriggers were solid the boat would break up, but like an aircrafts flexible wing, we bend and bow with the moving waves”.

The Majan crew led by Paul Standbridge includes two Omanis – Mohsin Al Busaidi, who became the first Arab to sail non-stop round the world on Musandam and Mohammed Al Ghailani, who as the pseudo-apprentice, continues to impress: “He wears the medal for best-improved crew. He has spent a lot of the time on the helm being coached by Michael Giles. As I type this, he is on the helm pushing consistently good speeds and making the most of the dropping wind pressure.”

The Oman Sail crews will look forward to some rest as the shore team get to work to ensure the A100 is ready to depart for the 4,200-mile second leg from the Maldives to Cape Town, starting on the 16th February – the next chapter in the Indian Ocean 5 Capes Race and the infamous Cape Agulhas.

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