Monday, 23 November 2009

Tour of Arabia: revealing the beauty and challenges of sailing in the Gulf region…

Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran approaches an oil rig. Image copyright Oman Sail.

by OC Events media

Since the start of the inaugural five-leg Tour of Arabia on the 10th of November from Kuwait, Oman Sail’s A100 trimaran continues with what is effectively a ‘tour of discovery’, tracing out these new routes for the very first time.

As Oman Sail’s media crew member, Mark Covell, reported en route to join the 105-ft trimaran: “As I flew up the Gulf, I looked down on our intended route back to Muscat. I was struck by the majestic beauty of these waters and the twinkling lights of the oil-rigs dotted off the Arabian coast. It was a very visual reminder of what was behind this amazing transformation of the region.” Paul Standbridge and his six-man crew, that also includes Mohsin Al Busaidi, the first Arab to sail round the world non-stop on board Oman Sail’s 75ft trimaran ‘Musandam’, and two Omani trainees are discovering all the beauty and challenges that the Gulf region has to offer.

Having left Kuwait City, where the team received a warm and inquisitive welcome from both the media and public, the Majan crew negotiated the 272-mile course to Bahrain. From Mark: “We sailed past fishing dhows waving at us to stop and buy fresh fish. We dodged an oil rig being towed. We were visited by a small pod of dolphins and we were even radioed by a 20,000-tonne US coalition war ship patrolling the Gulf.”

Leg 1: Kuwait to Bahrain. Crew on deck at sunset. Image copyright Oman Sail.

On Thursday, 12th November, Majan docked at Amwaj Marina which opened a year ago. Amwaj Marina is Bahrain's newest marina - the circular 60,000sq marina is located on the western seafront of Amwaj Islands and has 145 berths including four super yacht deepwater berths. The Kingdom of Bahrain is a small island country in the Arabian Gulf ruled by the Al Khalifa royal family. Bahrain is big on motorsports – it was the first Arab country to host a Formula One Grand Prix in 2004, and now sailing is taking hold: “The Kingdom of Bahrain also has a rich maritime history and the newly formed ‘Sail Bahrain’ team aims to create a new and exciting future for sailing and watersports in the Kingdom. As we left, two Volvo 60s were arriving and their future plans include an intention to develop an iconic yacht club on par with those which grace other leading maritime countries and a youth education programme along a similar vein to that of Oman Sail,” reported Mark.

Sadly, the country were in mourning following the death of the King of Bahrain’s uncle and out of respect the team cancelled all its planned media and VIP activities and departed on Saturday, 14th November for Doha, the capital of Qatar.

Bahrain, even in the midst of its mourning, had made a big impression on the team and Mark sent this report as they left: “Just before we pushed off the dock the whole boat was given a refreshing spray from a hosepipe to shed the dust from the concrete jungle that consumes Bahrain; I don’t think I have ever been to a place that is changing so quickly in front of your eyes. New buildings are everywhere you look and the skyline has an impressive array of cranes. Inlets and canals reach in and around the luxury developments bringing the sea to you and you to the sea.”

Leg 1: Kuwait to Bahrain. Image copyright Oman Sail.

The voyage to Qatar did not take long with Majan arriving the next day (Sunday, 15th November), but it came with its usual set of challenges in this region: “The trip to Qatar was only held up by shifting winds and poorly lit fishing nets. We held a constant bow watch, often needing to change course 90 degrees to get round the ends of the nets!”

Eighty per cent of Qatar’s population reside in Doha, the country’s largest city. On arrival Majan berthed alongside the city's stunning bay the Al-Corniche, a long seaside promenade that curves around Doha Bay. It has been a busy week for sport in Doha with the England Vs Brazil football match taking place on Saturday and now the Corniche park is also buzzing with the set up of the UIM F1 H20 Power Boating World Championships which begins on the 19th Nov. ‘Majan’ will depart Doha on the 18th November for Abu Dhabi in the United Arab Emirates.

Tour of Arabia:

Kuwait City, Kuwait
In port 7th-9th November
Depart 10th November

Manama, Bahrain
In port 12th-14th November
Depart 15th November

Doha, Qatar
In port 16th-17th November
Depart 18th November

Abu Dhabi & Dubai, United Arab Emirates
In port Abu Dhabi, 19th-20th November
Depart 21st November
In port Dubai, 21st-26th November
Depart 27th November

Muscat, Oman
Arrival end of November, 2009

OC Events

No comments: