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Omani female sailors breaking new ground with podium finish in 2020 EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour

by Oman Sail 9 Feb 18:39 GMT 7-8 February 2020

Team DB Schenker - spearheaded by Oman's Ibtisam al Salmi and Marwa al Kaifi - has made history, becoming the first all-female team to finish on the podium in ten years of the EFG Sailing Arabia - The Tour.

The tour is a two-week sailing regatta which covers five different and unique stopovers along 1,500KM of Oman's coastline. For the first time, two of the eight teams were made up completely of female sailors, with DB Schenker the only team to feature homegrown talent from the GCC, Oman's Ibtisam al Salmi and Marwa al Kaifi.

Along with teammates Audrey Ogereau of France and Lauranne Mettraux from Switzerland, Ibtisam and Marwa impressed from the get-go. The team never fell out of the overall top three and podiumed in at least one race in each of the five stages held in Salalah, Duqm, Masirah Island, Sur, and Muscat.

Ibtisam, who like Marwa is part of the women's elite programme at Oman Sail, said: "I'm so proud to be part of the first all-female team to finish in the top three. It has been a tough few weeks of racing in all sorts of conditions but all four of us just remained focused and worked as hard as we could. It feels amazing that that hard work has paid off.

"A group of young sailors from the Oman Sail sailing schools came to see us in Sur and the final day of racing in Muscat and it reminded me of when I was in their place. I'm very proud that we are inspiring kids, especially young girls, to take up sailing and show them what is possible with a bit of effort and teamwork."

DB Schenker's was locked in a tight tussle for silver with French team Groupe Atlantic for much of the regatta. There were just five points between the two teams going into the fifth and final stage in Muscat, a gap that closed even further after DB Schenker claimed second place in the coastal raid on day one of racing in Muscat. Both sides were highly competitive during the five stadium races on day two, but Groupe Atlantic did just enough to remain in second place by two and a half points.

Despite coming so close to silver, DB Schenker Skipper Audrey Ogereau said: "We are very proud to be in third at the end of the tour. All four of us - myself, Lauranne, Ibtisam, and Marwa - spent a month training together here in Oman before the regatta began and the hard work has really paid off.

"We have improved so much since last year and it will really set us up well for the sailing season in France. I'm also very happy that we could get such a good result for DB Schenker. This is the fourth straight year they have supported an all-female team and I am proud to sail for them."

The event was won by team EFG Bank, made up of Olympian Sofian Bouvet, fellow Frenchman Gaulthier Germain, and rising Omani star Ali al Balushi.

Find out more at sailingarabiathetour.com

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