Delay of start allows much needed prep/training time!

The first leg from Bahrain to Qatar of Sailing Arabia The Tour (SATT) 2014 was delayed. Katie Pettibone shares how she and her crew used the additional time before the race began:

More race delays = More time to train

Well, I didn’t envision on this chilly and windy night writing a blog from – well- Bahrain. Here we are though, and as an aside it is the right call, delayed on our leg from Bahrain to Qatar. The Race Committee boat was finally allowed out of customs and was put into the water this evening. As it had a bunch of needed safety gear and it is our escort vessel, it was the right call. We took advantage of the day as well to get a new boat GPS because we had been having electrical problems. Additionally, taking this new crew out on a windy sleigh ride in what will be a race during daylight hours instead of a cold night is simply much more enticing! I am really looking forward to heading south down to Doha and the warmer climes. Maybe living in California has softened me, but I do like my warmth!

Sprint_Doha copy

Debriefing the unexpected breakdown

Jib tackWe took the chance to do some practice in today’s 20+ knots. While out sailing, the tack clip on our new jib blew up. It had been sadly underwicked (to small for the loads) so it was bound to happen and it turns out it did happen to another boat. We got into the dock and quickly fixed it with the help of our hard working shore crew so that we will be able to use it tomorrow. These things go with a loud bang and lots of flapping so it seems all more the dramatic than it is, but it was really good training for the Omani women. Learning that the boat cannot move without the main sail being eased and what to do when something unexpected happens was a good learning moment. After we got to the dock and had the jib being sorted, we talked through what had happened and going forward how to better handle the situation with some taking the jib down and others getting the new jib ready.

Equipping for the future

The act of handling, accessing and planning for the unexpected is a trait that sailing is particularly adept at honing and is why sailors do well in all areas of life. By the end of this race, these Omani women will be able to take this skill forward and use it in whatever industries or adventures they pursue.

Katie checks in before Leg One ~ SATT 2014

Sailing Arabia The Tour 2014 runs from February 9-24, and will span four countries with stopovers in Doha, Abu Dhabi, Dubai, Ras Al Khaimah, Musandam, Mussanah and Muscat. Katie shares the team’s progress and obstacles before the start of the race:

Omani Women's Sailing Team ~ SATT 2014

Omani Women’s Sailing Team ~ SATT 2014

Delayed in Customs necessitates MacGyver-like ingenuity

It’s the morning of Leg one, and I am grabbing a quiet moment to check in. It has been a whirlwind couple of days. Upon arrival to Bahrain, we found that our boats, sails and gear were stuck in customs – and had been for a week. Eventually they were released – three days before the start. It has been a mad panic to get the masts in, brand new electronics installed and working, and of course the brand new sails set up. With no facilities, such as a workshop or sail loft, it is definitely a “make it work” kind of theme.

A very green team

Onboard is Mary Rook and Liz Baylis, each returning from a previous version of SATT. Ibtisam was with us last year, but never sailed in the offshore legs, so although she understands the nature of the race, the endurance aspect will be new. The rest of the team is brand new, including very novice sailors. Our vision is to continue to train the new Omani women in becoming not only good racing sailors, but also in the qualities that make good teammates and leaders in their own right. Things like ownership, teamwork, processing mistakes and learning from them, resilance, and of course communication. They are excited and have already been taking on the jobs – big or small – on the boat needed to get things done.

Omani Women’s Sailing Team ~ SATT 2014
Katherine Pettibone (USA)
Raiya Al Habsi (OMA)
Ibtisam Al Salmi (OMA)
Khaloud Al Uraimi (OMA)
Huda Al Mashrafi (OMA)
Raham Al Shezawi (OMA)
Elisabeth Baylis (USA)
Mary Rook (GBR)

Managing expectations & keeping focused on the goal

Unfortunately, we only have about one hour collectively sailing as a total team, and we are facing tough competition. All but one boat is a returning, talented team from previous versions of the SATT. The one which is the exception – EFG Bank, armed with incredible professional talent and two of Oman’s top sailors, and is currently the favorite of the race. The good news is this sets a high bar to work for, and that is good for performance goals. The bad news is that it can be tough on morale if realistic goals aren’t set. Myself and Liz Baylis (who is navigator and tactician) will have to manage those expectations.

Getting ready for Leg One

The calm before the storm – girls stretch and relax an hour before the start of Leg 1.

Opening ceremony then a shakedown leg in the dark

This morning is the opening ceremony with a member of Bahrain’s royal family expected. The weather is rainy and cold however, so he may not come. After that the start is supposed to be at 1:00 pm, with a northwest wind of 20+ knots to send us flying over to Doha, Qatar. I believe the start will be postponed, so we are probably looking at 4:30 or 5:00 pm start. Just a tiny bit of time to sail in daylight before sailing all night in the dark, honing off downwind, turning right at the tip of Qatar. Thankfully, the course is pretty straightforward for the first leg. It will be a short leg, and it will get our team comfortable with off-the-wind sailing and entail a spinnaker peel, which we did practice in yesterday’s one hour of sailing. Looking forward to seeing how we handle the night.

and Big Thanks!

My profuse thanks to Predict Wind for sponsoring us, and allowing us use of their product – the widely known best routing and information over here in Oman. It’s a fantastic aid. We encourage people to check it out and their soon-to-be released iPad app.

Wish us luck!
   −Katie Pettibone

SATT 2014 route

Interview w/Katie Pettibone on her way to Oman

Katie for SATT 2014Katie Pettibone returns to the Oman Women’s SATT (Sailing Arabia the Tour) Team for the third year, now as Skipper/Leader. The RTLI team was able to catch up with Katie before she boarded the Emirates plane off to Oman:

RTLI:  Katie, you are headed back to Oman for your THIRD year to coach these young Omani women sailors – what have you seen change in the attitude toward the women sailors within the Oman Sail/SATT community?

Katie:  Oman has continued to rally around and support the women’s sailing effort, and internally watching the women and the men’s team get integrated into a training and sailing regime has been terrific. When we first started, the girls were completely separated from the rest of the Omani sailing efforts, as there was not yet a high level women’s racing team. Many people I met in the first year (2012) had doubts that a novice team of Omani women could do this physically demanding competitive adventure. When people saw the Omani women’s team not only survive, but excel – they were excited and inspired by what the women had achieved, so the effort continues.  I look forward to seeing this project fulfill His Majesty Sultan Qaboos Bin Said’s vision.

RTLI:  Dee Caffari has left the Oman women’s sailing program to pursue her dream of co-leading a Volvo Round the World team. This leaves you as leader. What do you see as your biggest challenge(s) as you step into her leadership role with the team?

Katie:  Dee leaves big shoes! She is a dynamic, empathetic personality that has set the tone and focus from the start – to build the Omani women’s skills. My big challenge will to be to continue to fulfill that mission as the priority, and accept gains in skill sets as a win – even if race results don’t reflect that significant progress.

RTLI:  Only a few of the Omani women are returning to this year’s SATT team. Who will be the Omani women leaders on the team? What are their roles, and what do you hope they can each achieve individually and as a team?

Katie:  We only have two returning sailors – Eptisom and Raya. Looking at the girls who have been involved and moved on to other things, the involvement of these women in the program has really furthered their problem solving skills, dedication to hard work and belief in self – which is translating into successful careers and lives outside of sailing. Raya is still sailing, and preparing for a career in Finance – and she tells everyone that she wants to be like me(!) – a strong reminder of how important women leader role models are to young women everywhere. Intisar, who last year won Oman’s first Woman Sailor of the Year award, is now running an athletic program, and deeply believes in women in sports. She is an emerging leader, and will enable many girls to compete for generations to come.

Both Raya and Eptisom will help prepare the new women for the pace, requirements of taking care of the boat, and themselves, as well as what is required to be a part of a team. For three of them, this is a first. Both Eptisom and Raya will remember their first time, their doubts, fears and the struggles… and be great mentors to these new young women. I want each of them to leave this experience with a sense of accomplishment, that they learned skills and what it means to truly part of a team. Teaching them the value of team and what it takes to be a great team member is not easy. The concept of ‘team’ is ingrained here in the U.S., in our sports crazed nation. What it means to put something else above self, even if self would benefit from doing something different, is a critical and new concept for these women. Not everyone gets it, and my hope is through this competition the girls can begin to experience and see the benefit, and great joy of team.

RTLI:  You will have Liz Baylis from the U.S., and Mary Rook from Great Britain, on board helping you coach the Omani’s. What will each of them bring to the team?

Katie:  Liz brings incredible talent, and also wisdom in teaching new sailors new skills. She is returning as navigator and knows what to expect from the Omani women. With her role as WIMRA (Women’s International Match Race Assoc.) executive director, she understands that this team and effort is planting seeds for long-term growth in yacht racing and leadership opportunities for women in the Middle East. Mary Rook is a young Olympic sailor from Great Britain who is fiercely competitive, and has an amazing can-do attitude whether she is showing the girls how to jibe the pole on the bow or trim a spinnaker. I refer to her as my ‘fire fighter’ since she will be the trouble shooter on board. The girls look up to both Liz and Mary, and they relate to Mary because she is close to their age.

RTLI:  As you prepare to board the plane to Oman what are some of the thoughts and emotions going through your head?

Katie:  Heading to Bahrain – preparing for the long flight. I am excited to compete in the race with the team and eager to see how this new batch of Omani women sailors fare. Sprint Offshore racing is hard. It is the hardest, in my opinion, because you can’t get into consistent routines and it is tremendously physically and mentally demanding. I think this young team has tremendous growth potential, and at the end of SATT 2014, I want to instill in them the satisfaction of a job well done… of completing a journey, and to be able to look back on everything they have learned. My challenge is to translate the depth of knowledge I have gained over decades, to lessons on the water that are impactful and immediate, so they can make rapid improvements in this short time of the event. This is just the beginning of Oman Sail’s great project and sporting adventure, that will reap huge benefits as those who gain technical, team and leadership skills succeed in sailing, and then go on using those new skill sets, to be successful in business, politics or in whatever they choose to pursue!

Read more in this great article: EFG Sailing Arabia The Tour – All women team ready for action -Sail World

ISAF & Rolex Announce World Sailor Nominees

Rising Tide Leadership Institute would like to announce that two of our sailing friends, and competitors, Raiya Al Habsi (Oman) and Deneen Demourkas (USA) have been nominated by the International Sailing Federation (ISAF) and Rolex, for the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards 2013. Having sailed with each of them, Rising Tide Ambassadors Katie Pettibone, and Linda Lindquist-Bishop, offer their congratulations!

ISAF received nominations for the 2013 Award from across the world, for sailors representing all aspects of the sport. The nominees are put forward based on achievements made during the qualifying period from September 1, 2012 to August 31, 2013. Only one nominee wins in each of the male and female categories.

Raiya & DeneenRaiya Al Habsi (Oman)
“Seeing Raiya get nominated is inspiring and exciting for women in sailing. It is a budding sport in Oman. As her coach, I have been deeply impressed with her hard work, perseverance and spirit. She is helping to bring this sport to a whole new generation and region,” shared Katie Pettibone. Read more about Raiya.

Deneen Demourkas (USA)

“I’m thrilled to see Deneen nominated for the 2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year! I’ve raced against Deneen for almost a decade on the Farr 40 and Farr 30. She is a formidable competitor (3-time World Championship winning), and a great leader. As president of the Farr 30 global class association she has built communication, a sustainable event schedule, and kept the Farr 30 an internationally competitive class. Way to go Deneen!” -Linda Lindquist-Bishop. Read more about Deneen.

The ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs), the national governing bodies for sailing around the world, will be selecting the winners. The MNAs may vote for only one nominee in both the male and female categories, whom they believe most deserves the award. The winners will then be announced at the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award presentation and dinner, taking place on Tuesday, November 12, 2013. The venue for the event will be at the El Bander Hotel, Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.

Good Luck Raiya and Deneen!!!

As a leader, what questions do you ask of yourself the night before the ‘Big Game’?

You know last night had to be a long night for both Dean Barker (ETNZ) and James Spithill (Oracle USA) on the eve of what will be the most epic battle in the history of sailing. Sitting in very different places looking at the same objective – they must have been wrestling with very different questions.

Dean Barker ETNZDean Barker – up 8 to 1 a week ago, with just one win between The Cup and his team & country. Now – bearing the mental burden of a staggering losing streak.

James Spithill USAJames Spithill – behind 1 to 8 last week after starting with a 2 point penalty – now riding the wave of one of the greatest come-back stories in all of sport.

And they meet this afternoon (pending wind) in the Super Bowl of sailing – Winner take all.

The Cup brings opportunities AND burdens that go above and beyond any other sailing competition. In addition to the sailing team and boat – there are hundreds (thousands) of people that have made each of these campaigns possible in these areas:
• Technology design, building & maintenance
• Business organization; sales, marketing, finance, legal etc.
• Fitness; nutrition, exercise, rehab
• Media
• Corporate sponsors & private supporters, not to mention…
• Fans with raging national pride

With all that on their shoulders…
 What are they thinking?
What questions kept them awake last night?
What questions did they wake up to this morning?
The questions they ask of themselves will bring clarity of priorities and focus. As stated in the NY Times article ‘Distilling Wisdom of Effective C.E.O’s’ April 17, 2011, ‘The greatest contribution a CEO makes to their organization may be asking the right questions.’

As a leader – what questions are YOU asking of yourself the night before the ‘Big Game’?

AC Stand off

Today’s task: Stay focused – One race at a time!

Katie Pettibone heads out for what may be the final day of racing…
Or not…

I am heading out to San Francisco Bay with the Omega/Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) America’s Cup VIP boat. There was a strong air of expectancy at the base this morning. A sense of anticipation, nervousness and of holding the collective breath. ETNZ is one race away from winning the America’s cup. This has been a work in progress since 2004 when they lost the cup to the Swiss. They almost won it back in 2007, but the Swiss prevailed with the Alinghi Team. For Oracle this must be excruciating. They now have a yacht that is closely matched with ETNZ, but they have a mountain to climb back. It really would be one the greatest comebacks if they prevailed.

AC Omega

As a sailor I know the teams are just focusing on doing the next thing in front of them – which is simply sail a boat race. Whether it is trimming a wing, looking for wind, grinding or turning a wheel- it’s all been practiced a million times. The tough part is to not get ahead of oneself, and think ahead. Just stay present.

I am hankering to get out there myself. And numerous people are saying to me ‘it may be time for another women’s team’. True. There are no women sailing in this one, and I have heard some male sailors say these boats are too physical. Not true. Although similar to 1995, we would probably have some design tweaks. Ultimately we simply need more teams. There are only four teams competing in the end, and I know a lot of great sailors who didn’t end up racing because there just weren’t enough positions. That will require some different choices by whomever defends the Cup.

Whatever happens today, it will be exciting. Wind predicted between 15-20, true wind speed. We have a strong ebb tide in the second race, which will drop the wind limits for racing, but hopefully we will get two races in. Of course if ETNZ wins the first race, the second won’t be needed. Stay tuned…

Hong Kong press covers Katie Pettibone on Omega/ETNZ America's Cup VIP boat.

Hong Kong press covers Katie Pettibone on Omega/ETNZ America’s Cup VIP boat.

AC: Katie’s perspective on New Zealand & Team Oracle

Watching the AC on my iPhone between legislative sessions 🙂

America’s Cup races 7 and 8 are today here in San Francisco. The weather is predicted to be windy. There is a max wind limit for racing of 23 knots that gets adjusted for tidal flow (tide out the bay lowers the wind limit while tide flooding in raises it because of waves effect). Racing so far has been exciting albeit one-sided with the New Zealand team dominating.

AC US & NZ flying

This past week was the end of the California state Legislature’s legislative session. Between monitoring floor sessions and talking to legislative staff in the Capitol, I would find a bench to sit and watch Americas cup racing own my iPhone. God bless technology! The same story played out though- Oracle racing coming up short again and again. Even a significant crew change (changing tactician American John Kostecki out and bringing in British Ben Ainslie) and some design tweaks have not helped to this point. Currently ETNZ is up 6 races to negative 1 of Oracle. Why negative for USA? Because they got caught cheating in the Americas cup World Series raced in the AC 45’s. Although some have complained that the two point penalty they incurred was draconian for racing in what some have characterized is a farm league, it was part and parcel of the Cup and Protocol designed by Oracle. As was the removal of any appeals process.

Oracle appears a bit faster downwind but ETNZ is faster upwind. Even when Oracle has led, ETNZ gets around them on leg three – the long upwind leg. Some mistakes in tactics by Oracle let ETNZ get by easier but its tough holding off a competitor that is faster. Unique to this Cup, the course is not being adjusted for wind changes which has resulted in skewed courses making it harder to find something to catch up or pass a team ahead. As a competitor I can tell you there is a certain horror you feel when you first realize that your boat is lacking a speed gear or is not as fast as your competitor. I saw that in Oracle in the first couple of races. After that realization there’s a certain resolution and examination of what the options are because not doing anything is NOT one of them. If you listen to the press conference of Oracle and ETNZ after Tuesday- Spithill (driver of Oracle) conveys that very clearly.

AC Orcale

There are two races today scheduled and two tomorrow. If Oracle does not pull a design rabbit out of the hat, then ETNZ could be winners of the Americas Cup tomorrow. I know that the sailors on both teams are trying to take it one race at a time because anything can and will happen. But for Oracle if the design team hasn’t come up with something, the sailors on Oracle are going to have to continue to look for Hail Mary passes. That’s a tough mindset to play from.

Katie reports in from San Francisco ~The America’s Cup Begins!

Three years in the making, yesterday was the start of the 34th America’s Cup. With completely new boats, and completely different type of sailing, the goal is to make it viewer friendly and exciting. The racing is super short ~ around 30 minute races (max: two a day), and it all happens inside of San Francisco Bay.

34 americas's cup San FranAlthough a match race, the rules and course have deviated with the change into giant, wing-sail catarmarans. Previously, we raced monohulls. I liken the change as similar to that from racing helicopters to racing F-16s. We could maneuver back and forward within inches and now it is a speed race with occasions for tight maneuvering. Both are exciting, but just very different. These new boats can go up to 50 miles an hour! Not only is that flying, these things literally raise out of the water in a mode called “foiling.” To achieve the highest speeds the boats rise up on blade foils leaving no hull friction in the water. Extraordinary design, but it will come down to which sailors (drivers and crew) are the best at keeping these massive machines up on their foils. Hulls in the water are slow!

The American’s won the last America’s Cup in 2010 making the US the ‘Defender’ and host of the 2013 Cup. Unlike traditional America’s Cup’s where there are many countries challenging to race against the Defenders, the 2010 Cup was a ‘Deed of Gift’ Match. In short two very acrimonious teams who can’t agree on rules ended up in a one-on-one match where bare-bone default rules written in 1851 are used. (Also occurred in 1988 with Dennis Conor and the big winged NZ boat.) They raced different boats in a best of three races in Valencia. Oracle Racing Team (USA) beat the Swiss and brought the Cup back to San Francisco.

AC first race

The cost: Neither the time and nor resources that would be required of changing to these new multi-hull boats for the 34th Cup was well thought out. Instead of the hoped for 10-12 countries of Challengers, there ended up only being three challengers: Artemis – Sweden, Luna Rossa – Italy, and Emirates Team – New Zealand) who could afford to pay the astronomical sums required to get to the starting line. Exciting but cutting edge changes ended up with the death of a very famous British sailor. Emirates Team NZ (ETNZ) emerged out of the Challenger Series as the one to challenge Oracle easily beating Artemis and Luna Rosa. New Zealand has just over four million people ~ that is the size of Los Angeles, which is just one city in California. ETNZ has been in the America’s Cup since 1995, and certainly have set the standard for winning.

ETNZ and Oracle Racing have not yet raced against each other. How they will line up, and if either one has an advantage remains to be seen. Many eyes will be on this event. Will one boat have such an advantage to walk away or will it be close? Only time will tell! [Read More]


2013 Fastnet Race ~ Women Competing & Leading

Bravo to Dee, Raya and fellow Fastnet competitors! 

The MOD 70 trimaran, Oman Air-Musandam, skippered by Sidney Gavignet, finished FIRST ~ just 24 minutes following the overall Rolex Fastnet Race winner Spindrift II ~ in the MOCRA Multihull class, with a crew including world yachtswoman, and Rising Tide Leadership Institute Ambassador Dee Caffari, and Oman Womens Sailing Team’s Raya Al Habsi.

Raya and Dee“I can hardly believe I finished the Rolex Fastnet Race,” Raya said just after crossing the finish line. “It was a little bit tough but… it felt good to be part of such a successful team.” RTLI Ambassadors Dee Caffari and America’s Cup sailor Katie Pettibone, as well as Liz Rushall have been among those mentoring the Oman Sail women’s team. Raya’s participation in the Fastnet Race has taken Omani women’s sailing to a new level.

Watch these great videos highlighting Dee and Raya’s Fastnet experience:
Interviews with Dee Caffari, Sidney Gavignet and Raya Al Habsi on board the MOD 70 Oman Air Musandam before the start of the Rolex Fastnet Race 2013 [3:52 min]

40 hours of racing for Oman Air Musandam MOD 70 to win the MOCRA Multihull class in the 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race [3:48 min]

Additionally, professional woman sailor Dona Bertarelli was the first to cross the finish line into Plymouth as the new co-skipper of the world’s largest racing trimaran and fastest offshore race boat, the 40m long, Spindrift II. This boat won Rolex Fastnet Race line honors for a second consecutive time.

In total nine women skippered boats in this year’s Rolex Fastnet Race, and three all-women teams, including Girls for Sail, led by Susan Glenny, on the Elan 37, Jumbuck, and Captain Lucinda Allaway on the Joint Services Adventurous Sail Training Centre’s Sigma 38, Redcoat. And the winner of this unofficial championship was Lucy Reynolds’ team on the First 40, Southern Child. While Lucy and her husband Christian normally run the Swan 51 Northern Child for the Fastnet, this year Lucy put together an all-female crew for the first time. The 2013 Fastnet Race exemplified women leading and competing on the high seas!

Fastnet Race

Way to go Raya and Dee!

Making history at 2013 Rolex Fastnet Race…

Oman Sail’s Raya al Habsi was chosen by Rising Tide Leadership Institute Ambassador Dee Caffari to join the crew on Oman Air-Musandam MOD70 trimaran in this year’s 608 mile Fastnet race which started yesterday in Cowes, England ~ enabling her to become the FIRST Omani woman to race offshore and take part in the Rolex Fastnet Race. A record fleet left Cowes, England yesterday, with 347 starters from 20 countries for the 45th edition of the Rolex Fastnet Race (which first took place in 1925), with both men and women competing in the same race for the FIRST time. Meanwhile at Plymouth Yacht Haven crowds of press, friends and relatives of crew begin to gather, waiting for the boats to start arriving.

oman-air Fastnet

MOD70 Oman Air rounding the Fastnet Rock earlier today.

Raya feature

Raya commented before race start: “I am excited and I know maybe I will face hard times. But I am ready to face those times and do what I need to. I want to get to the end of the race and feel proud. I know very little about the ‘Mod70’ Oman Air-Musandam, but I know you have to be strong in body and strong in mind as well.”

Rolex Fastnet Race reports an intriguing dust-up is taking place between the world’s fastest competing yachts:

After an excellent start, the 40m trimaran, Spindrift 2, led the Multihull division along the south coast of England last night, but earlier this morning off Land’s End it was the Sidney Gavignet-skippered MOD70, Oman Air-Musandam, that had moved into the first place, despite being half Spindrift’s length. Crossing the Celtic Sea, it was then the turn of the 31.5m trimaran, Banque Populaire, to edge ahead. But at the Fastnet Rock, Spindrift 2, just managed to get her nose in front, rounding at 14.03:08 BST with the Armel le Cleac’h skippered Banque Populaire right on her transom.

“It is a great match,” enthused Spindrift 2’s co-skipper, Yann Guichard, this afternoon. “Right now, Banque Populaire is just 300m to windward and we are doing the same speed and the same angle.”

In theory the bigger boat should be faster, but Guichard says that in the 18-19 knot winds they have, the smaller Banque Populaire benefits from being lighter. “We are too heavy, so it is really close. We gybed first and she gybed just to windward, so it is like a match race – it is definitely not over yet.”

Click to follow the race!