Archives for January 2012

Next Stop Sacramento and then…Bahrain

Hello!

This segment has drawn to an end. How time has flown! I have been really fortunate with friends and international connections putting me in touch with people here in Muscat that now are new friends. Isn’t this world great?? Part of that chain brought me to the U.S. Embassy, where I was able to connect to discuss any security concerns that I might face in the race. Can I just say – our guys are fantastic. I am so lucky to be American. (Corny I know, but there you have it.)

However, getting INTO the embassy was another matter altogether. I must say, all my 80’s-coldwar- Hollywood inspired visions of immediately running in and being welcomed with open arms for simply being a U.S. citizen were dashed as getting in was more akin to Fort Knox. And probably rightfully so… All embassy row is guarded by Omani military. And a guy stationed on the road in front of our embassy was very Terminator-like. No pictures allowed of anything! Inside the first security perimeter, was through more Omani Military, scanner where I had to leave passport, phones, etc., behind.

Then it was time to go to the next area where it was a Spartan reception area (although nice) and more security behind bullet proof glass. After I was fetched by the people I had come to see, I finally saw the inside which was beautiful lush oasis- waterfall, trees, greenery, and beautiful architecture. WOW! Who knew! Anyway, back to the security question- I got briefed and I think we will be fine, particularly as I can’t imagine us being outside of the territorial sea for too long of any of the countries. Although there has been pirate activity off of Oman it was south of where we would be or well outside of the territorial limits.  Plus, as it was pointed out to me, the Omanis have taken a hard line against the pirates, shooting first, asking question later, so if anyone attacked us- an Omani yacht- they would have a death wish.

katie-mary-and-hannah-at-grand-mosque

Later that day was the press conference on the team. The focus being on the Omani women and what the goals of Oman Sail are in having this all-women’s team, as well as why Bank Muscat was sponsoring the team. It was well received and royalty that attended seemed really to enjoy the girls’ answers to the media’s questions of their experiences with us and how they were finding it. Although much of it was in Arabic, we did catch that the physicality and the training was one of the hardest things they had found. That is the nature of professional sport… The next day we heard radio interviews with an Oman Sail representative, and the country is definitely taking notice and where it will lead women’s sports.

On my last day practice before heading to the airport, the Omani girls were very sad to see me go. Although I pushed them taking no excuse on the boat or in the gym, I was also their biggest cheerleader (in a no-nonsense kind of way, such as “Pull harder and use your legs. See? Of course you can do it.”) When I came back to Oman after Christmas I brought little gifts from D.C., decorative plates with the Washington monument and the Capitol. I told them it represented the start of our country and one of core concepts – everyone is equal. In our training I have pushed them hard and taken no excuses. We are competing against top male sailors and to win we must push. I hope that they continue to train hard and keep in mind these lessons. Next stop Sacramento and then…. Bahrain.