Raya set to sail into history books

A file photo of Oman Air-Musandam, the MOD70 yacht that Raya al Habsi Raya will be on board during the Rolex Fastnet Race

Raya al Habsi is set to become the first Omani woman sailor to compete in the world's largest offshore race next month.

The talented 24 year old will sail on board Oman Air-Musandam in the Rolex Fastnet Race, which begins at Cowes, UK on August 11.

The biennial race from Cowes to the Fastnet Rock off southwest Ireland and back around the Scilly Isles to Plymouth is by far the most famous of international offshore races (1111.9km).

The Royal Ocean Racing Club's flagship event has already set a new record this year with 372 boats already in the fray.

Raya

Raya al Habsi

This year's edition of the race will feature a number of high-profile women sailors taking part, including Raya's mentor Dee Caffari who will be part of her team.

Skippered by Frenchman Sidney Gavignet, the others members of the Oman Air-Musandam MOD70 crew will be selected from a group comprising Mohsin al Busaidi, Fahad al Hasni, Ahmed al Hassani, Thomas Le Breton, Gilles Favennec, Neal McDonald and Damian Foxall.

Raya had previously competed in Sailing Arabia-The Tour in 2012 and 2013, and is currently part of the all-women Oman Sail entry at the J/80 worlds.

Based in Muscat, Raya is a business management graduate who started sailing in September 2011.

Caffari, who was the skipper of all-women Al Thuraya bank muscat team during the 2013 Sailing Arabia-The Tour, said the inclusion of Raya for the Fastnet Race highlighted Oman Sail's commitment towards promoting women's sailing in Oman.

"Raya has been with us from the beginning of women's offshore sailing," said Caffari on the official website of the Fastnet Race.

"She has been working the bow on the Farr 30 and has been cold, wet and beaten-up and still continues to smile, which is a good characteristic to have for a tough environment, which the Fastnet is.

This is a big deal for Oman Sail and for Arab women in sport." For Caffari, this will be her seventh Fastnet outing, after leading the Challenge boat Group 4 in 2001.

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