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Sailing Arabia The Tour - Caffari and crew undergo intense training

by Nicky Moore on 7 Feb 2012
Oman Sail’s all women team in training - Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2012 Lloyd Images ©
Sailing Arabia - The Tour 2012 (SATT) is an international regatta organised by Oman Sail which is being held from 12 to 27 February. Dee Caffari and her all-women sailing crew have just finished their second phase of training for the event.

As part of the crew’s preparation for SATT, an offshore sailing event based on Le Tour de France a la Voile, the all–female team have been undertaking some intense sail training in Oman, as they prepare to go head-to-head with eight other professional teams, including the French entry Courrier Dunkerque.

Setting off from Manama in Bahrain on the 12th February for the start of two weeks of sailing, the fleet will traverse the Arabian Peninsula stopping at Qatar, Abu Dhabi, Ras Al Khaimah and Oman, promoting one of the regions fastest growing sports on their journey. Over the five legs, the sailors will not only have to race offshore overnight but they will also have to do short, fast races in the stopover venues close to shore for the public to watch. By the time the teams reach the final port they will have sailed an incredible 1,064 kilometres over 15 days.

The women will race onboard the Farr 30, Al Thuraya Bank Muscat and record-breaking British yachtswoman Dee Caffari will skipper the only all women’s entry alongside the first recruits of Oman Sail’s Women’s Sailing Programme, launched in October 2011. Four Omani women graduated from the original 30-strong participants on the programme, a unique scheme that aims to create a safe, informative and culturally-appropriate environment for the women and contribute to their development in the sport of sailing. Dee commented on the progress of the team:

'The four selected sailors to join the professional crew onboard Al Thuraya Bank Muscat have now been split into a race crew and reserve crew. We have trained both in the gym and intensively on the water, undertaken overnight sailing and also raced with the boy’s teams. The progress of the whole crew has really been impressive and it is incredible to think that the Omani girls had not stepped foot in a boat before the start of October.'

'The Omani girls are filling the positions of mast and trim 2 onboard and have really got to grips with the smaller intricacies of sailing. The overnight sailing gave the girls an opportunity to learn what it is like to live onboard a boat that is racing for a similar duration to those they will experience on the legs of the SATT event.

'The practise races around marks with the boy’s teams have allowed the girls to realise just how fast paced and intense the in-port races that take place during SATT will be.'

The Women’s Sailing Programme is an exciting, bold initiative and Dee has high hopes for the Al Thuraya Bank Muscat team, continuing:

'We enjoyed a press conference where the girls all had the chance to explain what the training has been like and what they hope will happen in February where we race against some world class teams. They have also taken part in photo shoots and filming to give them an indication of the interest in this project and what it will be like at the end of each leg as they sail into each stopover.'

'These girls are really pushing the boundaries and standing up to be role models for their peers. Women throughout Oman and the neighbouring GCC states will be watching them closely and, hopefully, be inspired by them. After all the aim is to attract more women into the fantastic sport of sailing and give them the chance to enjoy the beautiful coastline that Oman has to offer.'

You can follow Dee and the nine teams using a live GPS tracking system which will be onboard all the participating boats, to follow the race live online visit the event website.

There is also a SATT app available for download for iPhone and Android, which will include the tracker as well as news feeds, videos, and Oman Sail Sailing Arabia - The Tour website

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