Shirley Robertson OBE, Double gold medallist and TV Presenter

  A week Sidney Gavignet will never forget
11 November 2010

A week Sidney Gavignet will never forget

All good plans as they say……….. We should have been in Guadeloupe sipping rum cocktails and excitedly waiting, microphone and lights at the ready, poised to greet the leaders of the Route de Rhum Ultimate class as they appeared over the horizon.

On the 31st of October we had shared a very special day with the gorgeous Gavignet family as Daddy (Sidney), looking strong, focussed and most definitely in the zone, blew his girls a final kiss and headed west. His mission to win the race. First across the Atlantic … but as all wise solo sailors say……..to win first you must finish……and for Sidney it wasn’t to be.

On the afternoon of Wednesday 3rd November Sidney’s dreams came crashing down ‘literally’. The front beam on his giant trimaran Oman Air Majan, failed, leading to the mast breaking. His boat in bits his only option was to seek help, assistance came in the form of a bulk carrier called the Cavo Alexander which was en route to Turkey. The rescue in many ways more dramatic than the boat failure, can you imagine being in a tiny liferaft looking up at a giant wall of ship rolling from side to side…I’d rather not. And so for us it was not to be the sunny Caribbean but a weekend in Gibraltar hoping to meet Sidney as he climbed down the ladder to his wife’s waiting arms and gratefully waved goodbye to his rescuers.

How was he everyone has asked; Its hard to say, hugely disappointed of course, humble as only the quiet Frenchman could be. Three days on a ship with little entertainment Sidney had written not only his story of the week he’ll never forget but his plan for the future…. to come back for more, his passion for taking on the Worlds oceans alone, for pushing himself to the limit, stronger than ever.

I couldn’t help but glance at his wife, Caroline; tired from the emotion of it all, and wonder if she knew already………..this would only be the beginning.

Sidney Gavignet

Since Sidney arrived safely in Gibraltar the salvage operation for Oman Air Majan has been underway with the stricken trimaran being towed the Azores.

Back on the race course the overall winner of the the Route du Rhum 2010 and winner of the Ultimate class was Franck Cammas onboard Groupamma 3, crossing the finish line in Pointe-à-Pitre, Guadeloupe after 9 days, 3 hours, 14 minutes and 47 seconds.