Muscat:As excitement builds around the third edition of EFG Bank Sailing Arabia–The Tour and with three weeks to go until the competitive fleet sails into starting line in Bahrain, Oman Sail's Al Thuraya Bank Muscat returns with record breaking British skipper Dee Caffari as the only all-female crew taking part in the off shore race. The team will include four Omani women aged between 21 and 28, two of whom competed in last year's race.
Abdullah Al Rahbi, head – Events & Sponsorship, Bank Muscat said: "Bank Muscat is proud to continue the support for Al Thuraya all-women crew, aimed at contributing to women empowerment and creating a sustainable sailing future for women in the country. The sailing event manifests a striking parallel to the bank's determination to take on challenges and prove its capabilities."
"Members of the all-women team have just had 400 miles of offshore experience which has been brilliant because it has demonstrated the massive progress they are making," said Caffari, who became the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions after completing the Vendee Globe in 2009 and her own single-handed westward circumnavigation three years before.
"These young women are a real inspiration to others in the region. 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 at EFG Bank Sailing Arabia–The Tour 2013 is definitely within their grasp in the short term." added Caffari. All four women who will be racing on board Al Thuraya Bank Muscat for each leg, are part of the Oman Sail Women's Sailing Programme which was launched in 2011. The programme 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.
Race team members Intisar Al Tobi, Raya Al Habsi and Tahira Al Yahyai recently won the prestigious Al Mara Excellence Award for the most achieving Omani women in sport for 2012 and were recognized for their achievements in sailing as judges deemed their performance in Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2012 as remarkable, just narrowly missing a podium finish in the forth place, weeks after their first experience on the water.
Commenting on their marathon 15 days of racing and looking forward to the 2013 event Raya Al Habsi said; "I was first introduced to sailing in 2011 and it really has changed my life. Sailing Arabia – The Tour has given me the chance to compete against some of the best sailors from around the world as well as travel the region and I can't wait until we sail form Bahrain across the beautiful Arabia Gulf coastline to Oman. We were so close to a podium place in Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2012 and so I'm keen to get back out there and fight for a place that we have worked so hard to achieve."
EFG Bank Sailing Arabia-The Tour 2013 starts on the 10th February and will deliver 15 days of intense sailing action across four different countries and seven beautiful marinas located in Bahrain, Qatar, United Arab Emirates and Oman. The event was initially launched in 2011 to promote one of the region's fastest growing sports and reignite the Gulf's rich maritime heritage. Teams from across the region and further afield will be competing in a fleet of identical Farr 30 keelboats, one of the Grand Prix racing world's most exciting boats.