We did it! We made it around Arabia! And we moved up to 6th overall! Happy girls!

We had a great final leg into Dohar, starting after a delay waiting for the stormiest wind to pass (it didn’t appear to have) it was very windy and very wavy conditions, we thought ‘here we go again!’. We had a long port tack along the coast of Qatar and then as we got to the top of the land it became a true beat and as darkness fell we got into a tacking duel with Zain and the other boats were very close and playing the big shifts we managed to get around many of the teams.

Despite the conditions the girls managed expertly and with plenty of sea sickness tablets on board and stocked up with all the clothes we could find we battled the elements much better than last leg.

The wind began to drop but without instruments that told us exactly what the wind speed was and without light to see the breeze coming on the water we had to try and anticipate when would be the best time to change from our smaller jib to the big one. This is a very important manoeuvre that costs time and boat speed but doing it and if you do it too early or too late it costs speed and distance so choosing the right time is a huge gain!

On the radio the race committee decided to use all of the scoring gates which bring the fleet back together and allow them to shorten the race if the conditions go badly. By the gate at the top right hand corner of Qatar we had managed to make a huge gain but standing between us and the committee boat were hundreds of metres of fishing nets! We had one girl on the bow with a torch, Ibti on the side and in full volume shouting in arabic ‘where are the nets’! to the passing fisher men and everyone else looking out ready for an instant tack or gybe! This time the nets had little white buoys on them, unlike the one we ran into on the first leg that was unmarked and unlit! We desperately tried to find a way around the long strings of nets but as we desperately wound ourselves around them we were getting further and further away from the line we needed to cross in order to score our potential finish and then move on further towards Bahrain! We really couldn’t see a way around and now having sailed past the line we took the decision to sail over the fishing net as sometimes the boys had said this worked if you had lots of heel on the boat and did it fast! But with our last experience we weren’t exactly keen for this approach! Nervously we did it and very annoyingly the boat sailed right over it! We then had to reach back down on the wrong tack to the committee boat where Zain, Averda and EFG had annoying just got past us, EFG just crossing by boat lengths! Chatting to the boys afterwards they had just sailed straight over the first one and hadn’t lost any distance at all! humph!!!!!

We then were in a long line on the long tack starboard towards the next mark and we were expecting the wind to get really light and we would need to bear away to the next mark. So we worked our boat away from the wind as fast as we could eventually hoisting the spinnaker. Unfortunately the wind completely died and came in from a much higher angle leaving us to beat to the finish the exact opposite to what we were working towards! Unfortunately we lost a lot of distance on the leaders but still had to fend off from both GAC Pindar and the Dutch boys!

Initially we thought the Dutch were ahead and knew we had to beat Pindar in this leg to take them overall so we concentrated our match race tactics on Pindar pushing them out to the short tack, unfavoured side but as we got closer we realised we were very close to the Dutch and for the last hour into the finish we were trying everything to get around them! The pressure was very on and off so it required content weight movement in and out and halyard and sheet adjustments! We got very close to them but sadly missed pipping them to the finish by about 2 metres! Very frustrating to finish 5th after all that and being soooo close! But generally we were extremely happy to have made it! And we had moved up a position to 6th in the overall standings beating Bien Voile, a boat full of Farr 30 experts and great racers! Not to mention many more legends of the sea and have really closed up the points gap to the top guys. Just to think where we might have been if we hadn’t hit that disastrous net on the first net that saw us back into almost last position!

What a race! What a great time and sailing into the marina in Bahrain we were very sad that it was all over! We had really bonded as a team and come so far from the beginning, making huge improvements all the way and posting some great performances. Looking forward to next year!

Now we are all heading home for come R&R, I have lots of icing of my broken toe to do to try and make it less sausage looking! And to recover from my horrible cold i have been carting around the race with me! The Omani girls are back to warm muscat to recover from their amazing experience and where they will continue with the women’s sailing programme which will involve lots of dinghy sailing in the next few weeks! Hopefully I will be back out to coach them again soon!

Lots of love M x