Archives for February 2013

A real inspiration…

Congratulations Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat Women’s Team!

Rising Tide Leadership Institute Ambassadors Katie Pettibone and Dee Caffari finished up the EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013 earlier this week. This is the second year that Katie and Dee (British skipper) joined the Oman Sail Women’s Sailing Team to coach the Omani women. The Oman Sail program was launched in 2011 as part of an Omani national effort to celebrate the countries rich maritime history, and empower women in the world of sport. The sailing program puts a large emphasis on family support, encouraging parents to inspire their young daughters to pursue a sporting skill such as sailing, giving them the confidence to learn and compete in these exciting regional events. This year six Omani women aged between 21 and 28, with four on the boat at all times, comprised 50% of the Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat all-female crew. Two of these Omani women also competed in last year’s SATT race.

Close-up in-port racing“These young women are a real inspiration to others in the region,” said RTLI Ambassador Dee Caffari. “In the near future, all-female crews from the Middle East competing in these events will be commonplace, and there is no reason why these girls shouldn’t go on to compete in races around the world. That will take time, but success is definitely within their grasp.”

The all women team ranked 7 out of 9 professional, international teams. RTLI Ambassador Katie Pettibone shared, “The final position of the team does not reflect the amazing leaps and bounds of personal growth or sailing skills that the girls experienced. Sailing is a true
team sport, and they thrived.”

Yesterday, Katie had the opportunity to speak to middle school students at the American International School of Muscat (K-12). Katie was delighted to inspire these students, by reviewing how the Omani Women’s Sailing Team progressed in the past 2 weeks of intense sailing competition. Katie, a Michigan native, was on the first all-female America’s Cup crew in 1995, and competed in the event twice after that. She has many stories to share, having survived some harrowing sailing episodes, including a dismasting in the treacherous waters off Cape Horn, and a capsizing off Australia. The opportunity to encourage and inspire young people is not only rewarding, but imperative to Rising Tide Leadership Institute’s mission.

Katie speaking to middle school

Great job ~ Katie, Dee and the rest of the crew: Sarah Hornby (UK), Elizabeth Bayliss (USA) and the Omani Women’s Sailing Team ~ Basma Al Nofali, Raiya Al Habsi, Rajaa Al Uwaisi, Ibtisam Al Salmi, Tahira Al Yahyaee and Asrar Al Ajmi!

SATT Finish Muscat 011

Photos by Lloyd Images

Farewell ~ Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013

Omani women sailors thrived…

The 2013 EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour has come to a close. February 25 was the final leg from Mussanah to Muscat. It was a whirlwind, as the leg from Dibba to Mussanah had us floating around with no wind during the night for hours, arriving into Mussanah Sunday at 5:00 pm only to have a skipper’s meeting at 7:00 pm, prize giving, quick dinner and bed. The next morning start had us down at the boats at 6:00 am. The leg was very frustrating as one cannot control the wind – or in our case – lack thereof. Keeping attention and enthusiasm as the sails thwack, thwack, and the waves toss the boat around like a toy is difficult. The worst part was that we had crossed tacks with what turned out to be the winning boat, but didn’t go into the shore with them. Ahhhh, hindsight.

Raya on bow

We started the final leg by heading down the coast under motor, as there wasn’t enough wind. All the boats were in high spirits, and we motored alongside our good friends and Farr 30 mentors, Team BAE, sharing jokes and stories. All of the boats in the fleet have been filled with good sailors, and simply good people. It’s difficult after spending everyday with these people to know that in a day it will be over, and you won’t see them for quite some time. Usually, one can expect to run into other sailors on the sailing circuit, but in this case with many who are here in the Gulf and not competing in the U.S. or European circuits, it may be a year (and doing the SATT) before I will get to see my friends again.

SATT Finish Muscat - Katie

The starting line was dropped just after the restricted area that is the waters before the Sultan’s home. (four miles of beach included!) The final race was going to determine the 2nd/3rd place between BAE and EFG Bank. Both teams skippered by renowned and experienced french skippers Cédric Pouligny and Sidney Gavignet would be a match race. The rest of the fleet was sailing for pride. We had an intense battle with Delf and Renaissance for 3rd, 4th and 5th, but kept getting forced to avoid Abu Dhabi and sail not ideal courses. The final placing was going to be determined by some gybing and crew work. Unfortunately, the last critical gybe was not executed flawlessly. Pressure and a lot happening was the undoing. It was really, really hard. The girls were devastated. Two cried. Oh, did I feel for them. It brought back memories of when our women’s team was eliminated in 1995 in the finals of the America’s Cup Challenger Series. Although a much grander/bigger scale, the importance and loss of a race is not lost on me. And like Dawn Riley told me back then, I told them, “There will always be another race or regatta.”

There is so much to say in reflection over the SATT 2013 tour, and the leaps and bounds made by the Omani girls! They were true contributing members on the team. It was their boat, and them doing the work. We went from having two Omani women sailors last year, to having 50% this year. The final position of the team does not reflect the amazing leaps and bounds of personal growth or sailing skills that the girls experienced. They had to start taking on jobs, responsibility for their time management, and sailing. Sailing is a true team sport, and they thrived.

All 6 Omani Women Sailors

There is much to be done as the ladies continue to grow, and it is fantastic that Oman Sail is invested in their growth, and the growth of this amazing sport. This tour was very difficult – more difficult than last year, because of the lack of recovery time between races. We had a number of legs where we had to be up at 5:00 am, waited around, finally raced, and then got in at night – only to get up again early in the morning. The added pit stop at Dubai took away a needed day off, and the points allotted the in-port racing meant that certain girls could not be given a break from sailing on those days as well. On the way in to Mussanah we talked to the girls about what they liked about the tour, and most said that they preferred in-port racing as opposed to the offshore. They struggled mightily with the lack of sleep, and the need for ongoing concentration even when there were no competitors around. The demanding weather didn’t faze them, as they all said their favorite leg was the sleigh ride across to Abu Dhabi – which involved 2 of them getting sea sick!

Next, the Omani girls will head to France to race J80s in Brest. It will be a huge fleet, a different boat, and very cold compared to the warm waters and temps of the Gulf. It will be interesting to see how they fare! I unfortunately cannot make it, because I have a job that will be demanding my attention during that time – but I will be watching and encouraging them from afar.


Photos by Lloyd Images

Mussanah to Muscat ~ Tears and cheers for all!

Today brisk downwind conditions, took the full fleet of nine Farr 30s home to The Wave, Muscat, providing the perfect conclusion to this year’s tour. The fleet, leaving Mussanah Marina at dawn this morning, was up to its full strength with the return of Adil Khaled and his Team Abu Dhabi, following their grounding and helicopter rescue on leg two. A fitting end to the event was that honors on the leg should go to French America’s Cup helmsman Bertrand Pacé and the crew of AISM, who have constantly dominated EFG Bank Sailing Arabia The Tour 2013. Over the last two and a half weeks they have won five of the seven offshore legs, and set the tone for the in-ports when they claimed three out of three races in Doha. AISM won 2013 SATT by 10.25 points.

SATT Finish Muscat

Starlets of the show, regardless of where in the GCC they visited, have been Rising Tide Leadership Institute Ambassador Dee Caffari’s all-female crew on Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat.

Caffari, the first woman to have sailed singlehanded around the world non-stop in both directions, said today’s leg was a fine conclusion to SATT, even though they just missed the podium: “We had great wind and good conditions, and really close racing. It was intense and a really good way to finish a great event. This was our chance to get on the podium, and we missed it by just two gybes. On the finish line all the girls burst into tears – I was quite emotional for them, but it shows just how much they wanted it – we wouldn’t have got that reaction two weeks ago.”

Finish at Muscat

Almost speechless with disappointment, hiding behind her sunglasses, was Al-Thuraya’s Intisar Al-Tobi. “I am sad, because we were so close and we did our best, and we tried so hard to finish in the top three places,” she said.

Taking in four countries and eight ports of call, EFG Bank Sailing Arabia The Tour (SATT) is a showcase of everything that the Gulf has to offer in terms of state-of-the-art facilities, and idyllic sailing conditions. Leaving Manama on February 10th, EFG Bank SATT calls at Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Dibba and Mussanah, ending February 25th in Muscat.

More details to come from Rising Tide Leadership Institute Ambassador Katie Pettibone…

Photos by Lloyd Images


Omani women sailors making waves…

Excellent video: Al Jazeera’s Jo Gasiorowska speaks to Rising Tide Leadership Institute Ambassador Dee Caffari, and Oman’s women’s team – some of whom had never set foot on a sail boat until two years ago – about making waves in the professional sailing world. Despite a history of maritime trade and pearling, Omani sailors have been largely under-represented on the international sailing circuit. Now the country is trying to build on it’s maritime heritage, and train a new generation of young Omani sailors to compete at the top level of the sport… these Omani women are making history!

Leg 6: Dibba to Mussanah ~ Youngest teams shine!

The young Omani Women’s Team continues to perform well…
Rising Tide Leadership Institute Ambassador Dee Caffari, a veteran of past events, shared thoughts before Leg 6: “It is usually quite eventful with quite a mixture of weather.” Enroute there is a ‘ship graveyard’ the boats will sail past. In the last race the start was windy but then the wind dropped off to nothing, and the boats had to motor for 35 miles. “Fortunately I don’t think we’ll have any of that this time,” advises Caffari of the big conditions.

Dee Caffari - Zighy Bay postThe leg will hold much significance for Caffari’s crew, four of whom are from Oman. “It is huge for these girls because they train out of Mussanah, and some of the girls come from Mussanah. For them this is going home.”

Dee Caffari (L)

Omani girls in Zighy Bay


Among Caffari’s crew is 22 year old Ibtisam Al-Salmi who knows Mussanah well, having trained there extensively since she joined Oman Sail Women Program more than one year ago. “EFG Bank Sailing Arabia The Tour is a good chance for me to sail,” says Al-Salmi who operates the ‘pit’ on board Al-Thuraya Bank Muscat, managing the hoisting and dropping of sails during the in-port races. “This is my first event sailing around the GCC countries, so I am very happy to be doing it. Dee is brilliant. It is good for me to learn as much as I can from her and her experience, because she’s a really good sailor and that is good for us.”

Like several of the other girls in Caffari’s crew, Al-Salmi is expecting to be heading for France this year from March until July to compete aboard a J/80 yacht, with a program culminating in the J/80 World Championship. Al-Salmi says that she likes inshore and offshore racing equally. “My ambition is to be a good sailor, and to know the boat, and everything going on it, so that when they put me in each place in the boat I can know what to do.” ~ Oman Women’s Sailing Team, placed a respectable 7th in Leg 6.

A stunning victory for the Dutch boys!
Dutch Student Team Delft Challenge -TU Delft pulled off a stunning victory in today’s leg of the Gulf region’s only long distance offshore sailing race, finishing over an hour ahead of the nearest rival!

Dutch boys

All the boats competing in EFG Bank Sailing Arabia The Tour are Farr 30 one designs, identical boats of identical speed, and under normal circumstances in an offshore leg the boats are separated by minutes, if not seconds. However on the sixth leg of the event from Zighy Bay to Mussanah Marina, the leading boat, TU Delft, arrived one hour and 12 minutes ahead of her rivals. The sixth leg should have been plain sailing for the leading three teams, but Delft took a risky tactic of splitting from the rest of the fleet, and heading inshore in the early hours of the morning. The Dutch student team, at one point, was ahead by more than 10 miles – impressive, on a leg that ended up being less than 60 miles from start to finish, after it was shortened.

Issa Al Ismaili, Events Director of race organizer Oman Sail, however, knows that upsets are all part of the thrill of sailing: “It’s a sign of how wide open sailing can be as a sport – our mission is to show everyone in the region that sailing is an accessible sport, and there could be no greater vindication of that ideal than a win from one of our youngest teams. It’s a thrill to see Team Delft Challenge excel here on one of the final legs of the tour, in idyllic sailing conditions.”

These young women, and men, are competing against,
and with, some of the greatest sailors in the world!

Photos by Lloyd Images