Route du Rhum new boy

Mark Lloyd / Oman Sail
Sidney Gavignet on his amazing round Britain record and forthcoming Route du Rhum
The Route du Rhum is lining up to be the top offshore event this autumn, one of the attractions being the ‘Ultimate’ class, a Bruno Peyron-style ‘anything goes’ affair featuring boats such as Franck Cammas’ Groupama 3 maxi-tri, with a cut-down rig, the lengthened ORMA 60, Gitana 11 and the three Irens-Cabaret 100 foot tris Francis Joyon’s IDEC, Thomas Coville’s Sodebo and the new kid on the block Majan Oman Air, with French Volvo Ocean Race veteran Sidney Gavignet at the wheel – monster-sized boats, all sailed singlehanded. Gavignet is of course best known for his exploits on the Volvo Ocean Race where after competing on board the maxi ketch La Poste with the likes of Eric Tabarly and Michel Desjoyeaux he went on to race with Assa Abloy, winning with Mike Sanderson and ABN AMRO One in 2006-7 and ultimately with Puma. However while he is one of the few French sailors to have metaphorically crossed the Channel, fully embracing the ‘anglo-saxon’ world of racing, he admits he grew up dreaming of competing in the Vendee Globe. While this may not have come true just yet, he has a similar opportunity in the Route du Rhum from St Malo across the north Atlantic to Pointe a Pitre, Guadeloupe. The timing is good because the flavour of this year’s Route du Rhum with the Ultimate class is very similar to when the event was in its heyday, when Gavignet was growing up. “It is fantastic for me. I am supposed to inspire the Omanis and I came back in a race which inspired me as a kid with Eugene Rigiduel and William Saurin, etc. I am coming back in a year when they re-open the limit, so it is perfect.” The arrangement with Oman Sail came about because Gavignet is in the Offshore Challenges