This year, Oman's all-woman team Al Thuraya Bank Muscat finished seventh overall at Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013 (SATT). The presence of Raya al Habsi, Intisar al Tobi, Raja'a al Owaisi and Tahira al Yahyai with reserves Asrar Jasm and Ibtisam al Salmi and skipper Dee Caffari at the helm comes as an achievement for Oman Sail. Experienced sailors Katty Pettibone and Sarah Hornby formed the other team members.
“I was very proud of the team. The event was tiring. The level of sailing was higher than in previous years and the competition was tough. The other sailors and I saw an improvement in the girls’ performance every day,” observed Dee. “A 50 per cent Omani team after sailing for just 18 months is a huge jump to make,” said Dee.
She brings a treasure trove of experiences to the women she coaches here. “Dee tells us her personal experiences. It feels like if she is on the boat everything is going to be okay,” said Raya. Sailing being a sport where one is at the mercy of nature, Raja'a, 21, said, “It was my first time in SATT. But I pushed myself to do well.” Of the seven legs between Bahrain and Muscat, the worst was from Dubai to Ras al Khaimah as it was littered with fishing nets.
Ibtisam fell in love with sailing after volunteering for three days at the Extreme Sailing Series last year. Qualifying for the team meant passing rigorous tests, which were followed by six months of practice. The girls trained at the gym in the morning and sailed in the afternoon.
A week's rest later, the girls are back on the waters, practicing again. “As the girls practice taking responsibility of a race boat this summer season in Europe they will be better prepared for SATT next year,” said Dee confident of her team's skills.