Oman Sail’s Class 40 team is preparing for the toughest challenge of their season with the 1,800-mile Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race set to start on Sunday.
Led by French skipper Guillaume Le Brec the development squad of Omani sailors Akram Al Wahaibi and Mohammed Al Mujaini will be joined by Italian racer Gabriele Olivo, who will bring valuable offshore expertise to the team.
The Oman Sail entry is one of no fewer than 10 Class 40 racing yachts taking part, the most competitive section within a 31-strong fleet, and Le Brec says the crew are ready for the challenge ahead.
“The season so far has been really positive and we have seen some great development with the guys on the boat,” he said.
“We have had some good results, we won the ArMen Race on the way to qualifying for the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland race, which was good.
“The guys are really motivated, and we are all looking forward to the longer race. I am really looking forward to spending the time at sea with them. Overall through the year we have been working and training to improve their level, and they are doing a good job.”
From the start off Cowes on England’s south coast, the course will take the fleet west to Ireland and then north through the Atlantic to clear the St Kilda islands in the Outer Hebrides off Scotland and then around the northern most point of the course, Muckle Flugga on the tip of the Shetland Islands right up at the 61stparallel.
The long leg back south through the busy shipping lanes and obstructions of the North Sea and English Channel presents its own challenges, but Le Brec and the team are hoping the race will deliver more wind than the season so far has seen.
Held every four year, the last two editions of the race have seen the fleet sent on an anti-clockwise course around Britain to avoid bad conditions, a situation that looks unlikely to be repeated this year given the settled summer weather in the UK.
“This year has been different as we have not had a lot of wind at all, and it has been light and upwind a lot of the time – and the boat is more designed for racing off the wind, so that’s what we are looking forward to more of,” he said.
“A top five finish among the Class 40s would be a good result for us and that is what we will be aiming for.”
Le Brec and the crew are of course aware that Oman Sail has a distinguished record in the Sevenstar Round Britain and Ireland Race history, with the MOD70 trimaran Musandam-Oman Sail setting an incredible world record time for the course in 2014 of 3 days, 3 hours, 32 minutes and 36 seconds.