Muscat: The world's first all-female Arab sailing team will flew to Quiberon in France to take to the testing waters of the Bay of Biscay and prove themselves on the world's keelboat racing stage.
These notoriously tough waters will challenge the girls in new ways: They'll not only have to learn to cope with the cold chill of the Atlantic winds, but they'll be sailing in heavier winds and larger waves than they are used to. However, the intrepid six are not perturbed by these conditions; instead, they are raring to go and are ready to rise to this new challenge.
The young women, all aged between 21 and 28, will be training towards competing in the world-renowned regatta Spi Ouest, a 5-day event running from March 28 to April 1, with 130 to 150 boats at the start line and some of the world's best sailors on board.
Niall Myant, Oman Sail's keelboat coach, stated, "The girls have been training hard for just over a year, and they have earned this opportunity to go and compete outside their home waters." He added, "The experience they will gain from a competition of this level will be huge."
Rajaa Al Uwaisi, from Musannah, has been sailing with the keelboat team for six months, and she has been given the tall task of helming (steering) the boat. She commented, "I'm a bit nervous. This will be a new experience for me, and it's the first time that I will be able to steer the boat in a regatta myself."
Intesar Al Toobi noted, "I am a bit worried about the cold, but I've been told to wrap up warmly and wear lots of layers!"
The all-female team will be training along the Quiberon Peninsula, using the National Sailing School as their base.
For the regatta, the team will be joined by experienced racer Liz Rushall from the United Kingdom to guide them through the intricacies of big-fleet sailing. Round-the-world yachtswoman Dee Caffari, who has been racing and training with the girls for the past year, said, "This is an incredible opportunity for the team. They are certainly ready for a new challenge."