“Oman has started something massive.”
Dee Caffari has just finished Sail Arabia the Tour (SATT), leading an Oman Sail all female crew. We caught up with her at the home of Oman Sail – The Wave Muscat. If you want to watch the interview instead of reading it – you can watch it here…
We started by asking her if it was a culture shock after spending so much time sailing in the UK and France.
It’s a massive culture shock. We get so used to what we know, so to come out somewhere in a new area with a new culture and new people – I didn’t really know what to expect and December was full of surprises.
But having the opportunity to learn about traditions and cultures and be sensitive to that with the Omani girls that we were sailing with has been fascinating.
And actually now having sailed in Bahrain, Qatar, UAE and Oman – it’s beautiful and there is loads of potential out here for the right boats and I think that Sailing Arabia the Tour is a good product that I think will grow.
The Tour visited some pretty interesting venues. Did anything stand out? The Six Senses at Zighy Bay perhaps?
Oh that was incredible. That was out first reintroduction into Omani waters and Zighy Bay was just that little corner of luxury that is almost a secret in Oman. As the girls team, we had the luxury of staying there. It was beautiful and it really invigorated us for those last two legs that were tough.
Behind me is beautiful sunshine and light winds for the Extreme Sailing Series, but we had 20 knots and huge waves and the girls worked really hard, they didn’t falter at all and stuck at it and I was so proud that they did the whole race.
Before we left – Government, ministers, even people behind the scenes of the tour and the company didn’t really think that these Omani girls were going to see it through to the end, so I am really chuffed that they did.
As a team we gelled really well together. There were a lot of good role models on the boat and I didn’t ever doubt that the girls were going to do it. In Decemeber I was a bit… Oh we have a lot on, but by the time we started, I was confident that if they enjoyed it they would see it through and not only did they enjoy it, but they grew in confidence and they did more on the boat.
The girls were also naturally competitive. They wanted to beat the Oman Sail boys and I am glad they did.
The goals of Oman Sail are long term and the all female team is not just a one-off. The whole Oman Sail project is really changing the game in the region.
That’s right. If you look at the male teams – 3 years ago they didn’t have enough sailors to make up a team and now they have two Oman boys boats, which is incredible.
Now we have started something with the girls and the fact that they enjoyed it and they want to do more – I know it is something that can grow.
How exciting is that? The first Arab girls to sail and these girls are role models and inspirations to other women now.
We’ve heard that as a result of the Tour, there are other countries in the GCC that we visited and that were involved in the tour that want the same kinds of women’s programs there.
That is incredible. Oman has started something massive and I feel really proud to be part of that.