Sidney Gavignet on the MODs and more

Mark Lloyd /
ORMA replacement class is in a hiatus but the big multihulls remain on the ascent
Oman Sail skipper Sidney Gavignet has spent the last two and a half weeks getting some winter sun, while competing in the EFG Bank Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT), at the helm of the sponsor’s boat EFG Bank (Monaco). Intriguingly in his crew was his old Assa Abloy Volvo Ocean Race skipper, British legend Neal McDonald, along with French Finn sailor Thomas le Breton, Omani Fahad Al Hasni and a pool of sailors including Monaco’s London 2012 Olympic Laser representative Damien Deprat and Omanis Yasser Al Rahbi and muscleman Sami Al Shukaili that have been swapped about between SATT’s in-ports and offshore legs. For Gavignet the core of his SATT crew, including in particular McDonald and Fahad will be sailing with him this year on the Oman Sail MOD70. The Farr 30s used in Sailing Arabia – The Tour are slightly smaller than the boats Gavignet and McDonald have become used to sailing in recent decades. “We enjoy the boats, because they are very sensitive,” says Gavignet. “They are great in light wind or in strong wind and if you are a good sailor you like them because there were lots of little tweaks to do to them.” Generally there is a feeling that in the Tour de France a la Voile the change from the Farr 30 to the M34s currently used has been a mistake. The latter are too expensive, require too many crew to sail them, and in an effort to make them road-trailerable are too tender, whereas the Farr 30s, while they might be getting on, are proper seaworthy little race boats that respond to being well sailed. The end result is that numbers of competing boats in the Tour Voile are profoundly down and for example it has priced the students out of the race (although Marcel Herrera,