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Al Tharaya, all female crew fire into action in Sail Arabia The Tour

by Hannah Morris - Race Crew on board Team Al Tharaya on 19 Feb 2012
During leg one of the race - blasting with our gennaker! Lloyd Images © http://lloydimagesgallery.photoshelter.com/
Al Tharaya, the all women’s team representing Oman in the Sail Arabia The Tour, has now finished the first two legs of the race, with a fourth and a fifth placing so far. Now in Abu Dhabi, we have competed our in port racing, and ready to set sail to Ras Al Khaima tomorrow.

The first start from Bahrain was delayed 24 hours due to heavy winds and strong seas, so it was a early 7am start for us when the Race Committee decided it was safe to get the first leg off the ground.

Our international team, spanning five countries including France, Britain, America, New Zealand, and of course Oman, left the shores of Bahrain in style, blasting out to the start line in 25 knots. We were ready to get this show on the road! After a short upwind dogleg to start, we rounded the first mark and hoisted up our reaching jennaker, as 9 farr 30s all did the same.

Powered up and all stacked aft and on the rail, the little boat roared into action as we plummeted along to next way point. 12 hours later we arrived in Doha, sliding in at fifth place. Intesar and Raaya were naturally nervous and excited from the start, and were still grinning by the time we reached Doha. They handled the conditions extremely well, and kept team morale up with their cheerful singing, as they finished their first ever offshore race. The downwind sprint was definitely an adrenalin kick for all of us, and a fantastic way to start the event.

So after our brief stop in Qatar, we set off on our next leg to Abu Dhabi.

This leg proved to be slightly more challenging, as the 160 mile sail presented a few obstacles along the way including oil rigs and islands, as well as being a significantly longer race. The forecast was for an upwind sail – and it proved to be right. As we sailed through the night, we were constantly peeling between the number one and two jib, as the breeze went up and down. As the sun came up, dolphins came to play, and surrounded Al Tharaya as we adjusted to the daylight. A beautiful way to start the day, and was what we took to be a good sign for us!

Arriving in Abu Dhabi in the evening at 11pm, we ended up alongside team Commercial Bank and Team Renaissance, fighting it out for third, coming in fourth. After a long leg, and many miles of separation between the boats, it was amazing to have it all come down to close match racing right at the end!

Now in Abu Dhabi, we have completed our in port racing amidst a sand storm and heavy shifty winds coming in at fifth once more. The drive is definitely there to work our way up the fleet, and beat a few more boys in the next leg to Ras Al Khaima, which starts tomorrow morning.

The Omani girls have taken the challenge on, and are constantly improving and learning, and I have to admire their positive attitude in the more testing parts of the legs, including late night sail changes and keeping concentration levels up despite lack of sleep. All part of the fun!

Tomorrow we set sail for Ras Al Khaima, and it’s looking like it will be 115 mile charge, reaching on port most of the way, with the breeze shifting aft as we head up the coast. This will be my last leg of the race, as I am hopping on a plane to head back to New Zealand just in time for my brother’s wedding!

So I hope to see it out in style, and hopefully (inshallah as they say here!) we might even make the podium. A good night sleep is in store for the team tonight, as we gear up to set sail to our next port of call tomorrow morning.

For more information and live updates, go to www.sailingarabiathetour.com

Over and out until Ras Al Khaima!!
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