(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) A veteran of three America's Cup teams and two round-the-world sailing races, Katie Pettibone is impressed by the commitment of the Omani girls in the ongoing 2014 Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT), the region's only offshore race.
The American sailor, who is the skipper of the all-women crew of Al Thuraya bank muscat, is participating in the SATT for the third year, but has taken up the role of skipper for the first time.
Al Thuraya bank muscat crew comprises four Omani girls with only 23 year old Ibtisam al Salmi having previous SATT experience.
The other three - Huda al Mashrafi, Khaloud al Araimi and Riham al Shezawi - made their debut this year.
Speaking to Muscat Daily, Katie said, ''The Omani girls are hard-working. They are keen to learn and have displayed the right attitude so far. They still have a lot to learn, but what impresses me is their dedication.''
''Offshore sailing is quite tough for these young sailors and Ibtisam has displayed the right qualities. She has been the fastest learner and is always keen to ask for more. She has a lot of potential,'' said Katie.
''During the first two offshore legs, the Omani girls were real troopers and worked hard all night. Ibtisam has really stepped up and has proved to be an asset. She does all the tasks assigned to her and has also developed her skills. She has asked for more coaching and feedback on her strengths, weaknesses and what she needs to do to improve upon,'' said Katie.
''Ibtisam also helps prepare the new Omani girls for the pace, handling of the boat and themselves, as well as what is required to be a part of a team. She remembers her first time in the SATT, her doubts, fears and struggles and is becoming a mentor for the others,'' said Katie.
The 42 year old experienced sailor said it becomes difficult to train the girls during the race.
''I wish we had more time to train before racing because it is hard to learn while in the middle of one. Explanations get shorter, time and opportunity for trial and error reduces, and the focus on specifics limits learning about the bigger picture,'' she said.
Katie, who works as a lawyer, said, ''I want the Omani girls to leave this offshore sailing experience with a sense of accomplishment, that they learned skills and what it means to be part of a team.
''Offshore racing is the hardest, in my opinion, because you can't get into consistent routines and it is tremendously physically and mentally demanding. This young team has tremendous growth potential, and at the end of the 2014 SATT, I want to instill in them the satisfaction of a job well done and go on to utilise those new skills, be successful in whatever they pursue,''