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Brit Dee Caffari leads Omani women on successful conquest

by Joanna Uffendell on 7 Dec 2012
Dee Caffari to lead Oman Sail’s all female offshore crew Lloyd Images/Oman Sail http://www.omansail.com
British yachtswoman Dee Caffari, the only woman to have sailed solo non-stop round the world in both directions, has returned to Oman as skipper and advisor to the Women’s Sailing Team ahead of the Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT) this February. Caffari skippered Al Thuraya’s all-female crew in SATT earlier this year and has high hopes for the all-female team, which now has a squad of seven Omani girls, in the next edition the regatta.

The all-female team’s recent outing proved an enormous success with them winning the Muscat Inshore Regatta and claiming fourth overall in the Muscat to Khasab Offshore Race, despite many of the Omani girls on-board never having experienced the world of offshore sailing. Caffari is delighted that, in addition to the four new Omani recruits that began their training in September, she will be sailing once again with Intisar Al Tobi, Raya Al Habsi and Tahira al Yahyai who joined the programme back in 2011. The three women recently won the prestigious Al Mara Excellence Award for the highest achieving Omani women in sport for 2012 and were recognised for their achievements in sailing.

Caffari commented: 'The three girls continuing on this programme have become role models to their peers and are definitely an inspiration to the new girls recruited into the programme. They understand the hard work required and are fully committed to their development.'

The Muscat Regatta, where the team claimed their first win, was a series of six inshore races providing valuable training for the team ahead of the SATT next February. As well as being a fantastic confidence boost for the four new keelboat Omani sailors, it was an introduction to racing life before they took on 230 miles of offshore racing in the Muscat – Khasab RORC Race, where they missed out on a podium position by just 1.9 miles.

'This offshore race was much longer in duration than a leg in the SATT, so it provided really valuable training for the girls and it was tough in light wind conditions' said Caffari.

With both races under their belts, Caffari raised the bar once again on the 170 mile delivery sail from Khasab to Mussanah by encouraging the Oman girls to take full control of the yacht. With coaching support supplied when needed, they fulfilled all the roles on board with prompts given at key decision points.

'The delivery back to Mussanah was a great trip for the girls. I wanted to empower them to do all the jobs required on the boat and I took a hands off coaching role. The girls learnt a lot and now have a better understanding of what to consider while sailing offshore.' added Caffari.

In addition to Caffari, the training team includes Olympic sailor Mary Rook, Niall Myant as the keelboat squad coach and Sarah Hornby who has recently joined Oman Sail. Caffari has returned to the UK ahead of the Christmas break and will return to Oman in January. In her absence, training in Oman continues with regular gym sessions which will enable the girls to develop their strength and a match racing event in Bahrain to gain more racing Dee Caffari website
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