Details of the four inspirational Omani yachtswomen selected to join Sailing Arabia – the Tour 2012 (SATT) are set to be revealed later this month (January 2012) by organisers, Oman Sail.
four Omani female sailors will be chosen from 30 participants of the Women Sailing Program who, since the initiative’s launch in October last year, have been taking part in an intensive training and selection process, coached by top international professional sailors.
The four selected sailors will be part of the all-woman crew on Al Thuraya BankMuscat, skippered by renowned British sailor Dee Caffari. The team will compete in two weeks of racing around the Arabian Gulf Coast, beginning in February 2012, with the Omani sailors lining up against ten other Gulf Coast countries and international crews.
During the Women Sailing Program, the Omani women’s team will have been tested to the limit for their endurance, focus and offshore sailing skills, with training often leading to sleepless nights and needing extreme commitment and hard work from participants. Theoretical and practical lessons will have taught the team about how to face tough conditions on the water, safety protocols and the need for strict food diets. The preparations aim to ensure the women are ready to cope with limited rations on board, as the sailors are often at sea for up to three days non-stop.
One of the training programme’s participants, Intisar Al Tobi, said: "We start our day at 9 am and head straight to the gym for about two hours. After that we start rigging the boat, and we spend about three to four hours training on the boat. Every day, one of us takes the responsibility of a certain position on the boat such as: main sheet, trimming, helming undergoing task rotation, and each one of us has a coach.”
Despite the intensive nature of the program, Intisar said she has enjoyed the experience. She added: "The program is tough but it is fantastic. At the beginning I was a bit hesitant about whether I would be able to do this, but now, every day I am learning something new and the hesitation is gone. On the contrary, I now feel more confident and have the "never say never" attitude. After this intensive training program I feel more confident about myself, I have learned so much more about the boat, however, we are still at the beginning and there is so much to learn and train for."
Intisar also shared some of the lessons that helped her develop her personality during these training programs. She said: "One must have the required flexibility and to accept learning from everything and everyone. In order to excel we must have the will to learn and that's the most powerful thing that will ultimately drive you from within. Although we have all the resources provided and made available for us, unless we build our self-determination, we will not move forward. You must challenge yourself every day to be able to face any obstacle you face in life.
With reference to the strict food diet, Intisar commented with a smile: "The diet is tough – we only eat nutritious and energetic food. No more junk food, no more sweets, breakfast is limited to specific cereals but this is all good because it helps us prepare and test our endurance level while sailing for hours. Personally, since I started sailing, dates have been my best ally. They are a great source of energy and can easily be stored for a long time. They are what our forefathers used to eat when crossing oceans around the world. And for me besides energy, they add an Omani flavour to our journey and keep me with high spirits in the sea.
According to Intisar, communication skills have also been boosted since the women joined the program: "Every week the girls join English language courses twice a week. And amongst ourselves with the international coaches I feel my English language and communications skills have improved dramatically. It is a great multicultural environment we have, the coaches get to experience so much about the Omani culture and we get to learn much from their knowledge and expertise about this great sport", Intisar concluded.
Oman Sail will be announcing the selected crew for Al Thuraya BankMuscat this month followed by another major announcement about the details of Sailing Arabia – the Tour 2012 that is due to take place 9-27 February 2012.