Omani Women Pushing Boundaries

In recent years, sailors from the small Middle Eastern nation of Oman have met with surprising success in a number of high-profile races, including the Tour de France à la Voile and the Extreme 40 Sailing Series. Not surprisingly, given the mores of that part of the world, these sailors have all been men. But that is beginning to change thanks to the efforts of Oman Sail.

In October, the program enrolled its first class of female sailors—40 in all. More recently, it tapped four of those students to be part of an all-female crew which took part in February’s Sailing Arabia the Tour 2012, which featured nine teams competing aboard Farr30 and M34 one-designs in both offshore events and around the buoys.

Leading the effort for the all-women Al Thuraya Bank Muscat entry were a number of professional female sailors from the West, including British Vendée Globe veteran Dee Caffari and U.S. Volvo Ocean Race veteran Katie Pettibone.

“Having an all-female team in SATT is a bold initiative and one that I am honored to be involved in,” Caffari said. “[The Omani sailors] are brimming with enthusiasm and are keen to absorb the knowledge being imparted to them. They know they are being exposed to a first class crew and really want to do their best to contribute to the success of the team.”

For more on Oman Sail’s women’s program, visit And catch our exclusive interview with crewmember Raiya Al Habasi.

All photos courtesy of Sailing Arabia The Tour 2012 except for dinghy shot, which is courtesy of Oman Sail 

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