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MENAFN - Muscat Daily - 05/12/2012

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(MENAFN - Muscat Daily) British yachtswoman Dee Caffari has returned to Oman Sail as coach and skipper of the Women's Sailing Team ahead of a busy season of racing.Caffari, who skippered Al Thuraya's all female crew in Sailing Arabia-The Tour (SATT) last year, has been spending time in Oman overseeing the training of the seven-member Oman Sail Women's Sailing Team and heading up their campaign in the recent Muscat Inshore Regatta and the Muscat to Khasab Race.They have just had nearly 640km of offshore experience, which is brilliant because it demonstrates the huge progress they are making, and in quick time, said Caffari, who is the first woman to sail solo, non-stop, around the world in both directions. The offshore experience gave the women sailors exposure to different events and situations. It also proves that they can do well because after all, we won the inshore regatta and finished fourth in the offshore race - which is not bad considering the girls had never been offshore before.Over the next few weeks, Omani women aged between 21 and 28 will spend their mornings working out in the gym and the afternoons training on the water alongside two men's teams. They will then compete in match-racing championships, competing on J24 keelboats in Bahrain from December 12-17 before the SATT 2013 begins there on February 10, 2013.Caffari said, At some stage, there will be a full crew of Omani girls competing in these events and there is no reason why these girls shouldn't go on and compete in races around the world. That will take time though. But the SATT is definitely within their grasp in the short term.Three of the women who competed in the SATT recently won the prestigious Al Mara Excellence Award, which is presented annually to top women achievers in sport. Intisar al Tobi, Raya al Habsi and Tahira al Yahyai were recognised for their achievements in sailing. They finished in fourth place, just off the podium after a marathon 15 days of racing last year.Caffari said, These girls and the women sailing instructors at the sailing schools here are breaking new ground, which is really exciting because they will be role models for other girls in Oman who would be coming through Oman Sail's Women's Sailing Programme.The Women's Sailing Programme was launched in 2011. It was designed to help strengthen the participants physically as well as psychologically through the sport of sailing.Caffari observed that the women sailors in Oman need to work towards developing stronger muscles so that they can face the strong breeze out at sea. At the moment, they are a bit tiny. The boys sail with six on board and we [women's boats] have eight. They need to lift some heavier weights. Actually, this programme is about learning to become fit athletes, and for that, they need to work harder, she said.


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