World record-breaking British sailor Dee Caffari is set to skipper an all-woman crew which makes its debut in an international regatta organised by Oman Sail next month.
The second edition of Sailing Arabia – The Tour (SATT) joins together the nations of the Gulf and international crews in two weeks of racing around the Arabian Coast, and amongst the line up is the Oman Sail all-woman entry, Al Thuraya Bank Muscat, led by Dee. Providing a regional, and winter, alternative to Le Tour de France à la Voile, racing will take place across two classes – the FARR 30 and the M34, and will include five offshore legs, each finished with inshore racing.
The Al Thuraya Bank Muscat crew includes the first recruits of Oman Sail’s Women’s Programme, an initiative launched in October 2011, which boasts Dee Caffari and double Olympic gold medallist Shirley Robertson as ambassadors. The four Omani women selected to join the crew are Intisar Al Tobi, Raya Al Habsi, Tahira Al Yahyai and Khulood Al Kindi. These exceptional women have been selected from 30 participants of Oman Sail’s Women Sailing Program, a unique program that aims to create a safe, informative and culturally appropriate environment for the women and contribute to their development in the sport of sailing.
During the intensive training and selection process, the women were coached and mentored by their international professional teammates, including Dee. She commented: “Having an all-female team inSATT is a bold initiative and one that I am honoured to be involved in. They are brimming with enthusiasm and are keen to absorb the knowledge being imparted to them. They know they are being exposed to a first class crew and really want to do their best to contribute to the success of the team.”
These four Omani women will joining a host of talent from the international yachting arena. Introducing the crew for the first time, Dee said:
“We have Christine Briand (FRA) as our Navigator and Tactician. Christine has a wealth of both offshore and match racing experience. Her ability to play a tactical game and make the crucial decisions at the right time is invaluable.”
“Katie Pettibone (USA) will be putting her trimming skills to test in the engine house of the boat, as the mainsail trimmer, while at the sharp end of the action will be Claire Pruvot (FRA). Claire is looking ahead for an Olympic medal this year so we are lucky to have her acting as our bowman for The Tour. She is passionate about the sport and will inject her enthusiasm and passion for the sport with Olympic class accuracy,” Dee commented.
In the middle of the boat working in the pit is Hannah Morris, (NZL).“Being a true international boat Hannah is representing the Southern Hemisphere and comes from a background of match racing so will be at home pitting her skills against identical boats on this race course,” said Dee. Hannah will be replaced by round the world sailor, Briton Emma Westamott, for the final leg.
Trimming for maximum speed is Mary Rook (GBR). Speaking about Mary’s Olympic hopes, Dee forecasts her rise to glory in 2016: “Mary has been training with Olympic squads and has been sailing all over the world as part of world class teams, with her focus to date on match racing and keelboats she is a real asset. We are grateful for her energy and dedication to this event.”
Dee is no stranger to global success, having set a new record when she became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions, on completing the Vendee Globe race in February 2009.
She is currently putting the crew through some concentrated sail training ahead of SATT which takes place 9 – 27 February, and Dee has high hopes for the Al Thuraya Bank Muscat team: “Although we have had fun, we as a group are extremely competitive, and we do really want to put in a good performance.”
The international crew consists of:
1. Dee Caffari as the Skipper from UK
2. Christine Briand from France
3. Katie Pettibone from USA
4. Mary Elizabeth Rook from UK
5. Hannah Rose Morris New Zealand
6. Claire Pruvot from France
7. Emma Westmacott from UK (will replace Hannah for the final leg)
Omani Ladies selected are:
1. Intisar Al Toobi
2. Raaya Al Habsi
3. Khulood Al Kindi
4. Tahira Al Yahyai