For the fourth time, Dee Caffari will be skippering an all-women crew during the EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour. The team hope to inspire women from across the Gulf states to follow in their footsteps

British skipper Dee Caffari has a unique challenge ahead of her.

Not only is she skippering the new German all-female entry, DB Schenker, in the EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2017, which starts next month.

But, she also hopes to inspire women from across Saudi Arabia, Kuwait, the United Arab Emirates, Qatar, Bahrain, and Oman, which makes up the Gulf Cooperation Council (GCC), to follow in her team’s footsteps.

“We compete in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour because it is extremely important to have a female team entered into an event in this region and to try and make a difference in how females are represented,” explained Caffari who skippered the first women’s entry in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour in 2012.

Female sailors

The all female crew in the 2016 EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour. Credit: Lloyd Images

“We will be seeking to inspire fellow females from the GCC states, we want to put Oman on the map and show what Omani women can achieve, we hope to inspire others around the GCC to follow in their footsteps,” she stressed.

Dee Caffari has more ocean racing miles under her belt than nearly any other woman on the planet, having raced around the world five times – twice on her own, twice with crew and once two-handed.

She has selected four Omani sailors for her EFG Sailing Arabia team.

These include Ibtisam Al Salmi, one of the Middle East’s first professional female sailors as well as Marwa Al Khaifi and Tamathir Al Balushi, both sailing instructors for Oman Sail, who competed in EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour with Caffari last year.

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In addition, three of Caffari’s team are making their debut .

They include a fourth Omani Hajer Al Balushi, a member of Oman Sail’s Women’s Sailing Programme, and Hannah Diamond, a former member of the British Olympic sailing squad who campaigns a Nacra 17.

Libby Greenhalgh also comes to the tour for the first time with her experience of thousands of racing miles, including a Volvo Ocean Race campaign in 2014/15.

She raced with Caffari on Team SCA in the Volvo Ocean Race and then joined Caffari’s Oman Sail Farr 30 for the Farr 30 Internationals in Sweden last August .

This was used as a training platform for EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour.

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Annemeike Bes, the Dutch sailor who doubles as a coach and mentor, will also be joining Caffari once again for this unique race.

“We are sailing with a 50% Omani female team so during this race we are hoping to enable and empower the Omani crew to take more responsibility and more ownership of the race team,” stressed Caffari.

“We want to put in a credible and competitive performance,” she added.

The DB Schenker team will be flying the flag for Oman Sail’s Women’s Sailing Programme, which aims to  change the perceptions of women in the Middle East by empowering Omani women and creating equal opportunities in the sport of sailing.

At EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour, success will mean more than clocking up podium places; it will represent a step forward in breaking down barriers and changing perceptions.

The only annual race of its type, EFG Sailing Arabia – The Tour is a mix of long offshore legs and intense in-port racing.

This year, it will start in Muscat, Oman, on 13 February, with the first in-port races before the fleet heads north to Sohar and around the tip of the Musandam Peninsula to Khasab.

Competitors must tackle the challenges posed by the congested Straits of Hormuz before racing to Abu Dhabi and then on to Doha for the second round of in-port races.

The last – and longest – leg to Dubai with the final round of in-port races will provide a final challenge to the crews taking part.