Women of the Seas

March 9, 2012 § Leave a comment

It is an ancient tradition in the Gulf, offshore sailing races that bring together the region and remind us of our rich tradition of seafaring and trading. In this sport, women have found yet more ways to be pioneers in the world.

Layla Mohsin from Bahrain was the first and only woman to take part in the 2011 inaugural year race, crewing for Team GAC Pindar. , and the race generated more than $1.5 million in media value. The 10-day contest, called Sailing Arabia attracted teams from Bahrain , Qatar , Ras Al Khaimah and Oman and France ’s Team New Caledonia .

Her pioneering effort led to a much wider participation in this year’s 15-day race. It followed a 1,400 km route from Manama , Bahrain , to Doha , Abu Dhabi , Ras Al Khaimah, then along the Omani coast to Musandam on the Strait of Hormuz, to Mussanah and finishing at Muscat with nine teams instead of 2011’s six.

The Bahraini team was joined by four from Oman , Qatar , Saudi Arabia and Ras Al Khaimah. It was the all-woman crew of Al Thuraya Bank Muscat, skippered by Dee Caffari, the first woman to sail solo non-stop around the world in both directions, which caught the race followers’ imagination with their fourth-place finish.

Caffari noted how the sail programs have “overturned preconceptions about women and the area.” She said how “as the program developed from small steps at first, teaching the basics of fitness and nutrition before racing skills, we had to build trust and commitment until we had all-round sailors in one big team.”

Bahrain’s women continue to lead, whether on land or sea. The younger generation will have the wind at their backs and the sun shining on their faces, both in their competition on water and as they add to our heritage and culture.

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