Sunday, 6 December 2009

And Now for Something Completely Different: Dhow Racing in Dubai

Atlas ends winning streak of Maqasas

Close racing on the Dhows off Dubai. Image copyright Ashraf Al Amra.

by Sharon Allison

Dubai Traditional 43ft Dhow Sailing Championships Heat 3, 5th December 09. A win for Atlas scuppered the winning streak of Maqasas today. In a race, which saw shifting, temperamental wind conditions and a trip around the World Islands, Atlas skipper Ahmed R. Al Suwaidi gave much of the credit for his first place to his new sail but added ‘my crew worked really well together, they are good team, we were lucky and made the right choices.

The wind was up and down, around ten knots, at the top of the World Islands the wind was really fickle and we had to concentrate hard and make no mistakes.’ The race took two hours for the winners to complete and the first three boats crossed the line within three minutes of each other. In second place was Barraq, sailed by Rashid M. R Al Rumaithi, winner of the last seasons Championships, who was happy to beat his brother Khalid, skipper of Maqasas who has dominated the last two heats. ‘I’m looking forward to give back some of the round the dinner table teasing,’ he joked.

A large fleet of dhows racing. Image copyright Ashraf Al Amra.

In third place was Ahmed Saeed Salim Al Rumaithi on Toufan, who was much happier with this result than his thirteenth place in the last heat. The start was delayed by half an hour while marks were moved to accommodate inconsistent conditions but it made a treat for observant aircraft passengers arriving on their way to Dubai International Airport with over a hundred 43ft dhows spread out directly under the flight path. The start was magnificent and truly breathtaking producing a huge sea of billowing white sails pulling away from the coast heading towards the outer ring of the World Islands.

Some boats went far out to sea looking for wind and clean air as the promising air of the start began to wane while others hugged the breakwater making it was impossible to see who was in the lead. Even at the finish line with boats descending from all directions it was difficult to predict the winner until they were quite close. There were some scuffles, notably between Maqasas and Seda’a who were neck and neck with Seda’a covering Maqasas and pushing her to the breakwater.

Maqasas was forced to tack away with Seda’a coming out on top but a near collision between Seda’a and Ra’ad sent crewmembers from Seda’a overboard with the incident ending their hopes of a top place. The crewmembers were unharmed and even refreshed by the warm water. The winter though has arrived in Dubai bringing perfect temperatures and languid evenings with beautiful sun sets every night at five thirty and in calm conditions such as today a few of the slower dhows relied on their support boats to tow them home giving the crew time to concentrate on their singing.

Dhow racing as the sun sets. Image copyright Ashraf Al Amra.

The finish line was set in front of the Burj Al Arab and Mohammed Harib, from the UAE Marine Sports Federation Board used it as a backdrop to present the winners with their trophies. This round of the Championship was run as part of the 38th UAE National Day celebrations and the Sea Dubai Watersports Festival organised by Dubai International Marine Club which runs until December 12th and concludes with the Emirates/Dubai Duty Free Class One Powerboat Race. The next heat of the Traditional 43ft Dhow Sailing Championships is the final on March 20th 2010.

Provisional Results
Pos No. Name Skipper/Owner
1st 12 Atlas Ahmed Rashid Al Suwaidi Faraj bin Buti Muhairbi
2nd 33 Barraq Rashid Mohd/ Rashid Al Rumaithi Ahmed Rashid Mohd/ Al Rumaithi
3rd 80 Toufan Ahmed Saeed Salim Al Rumaithi
4th 159 Wafi Khalaf Buti M. Al Ghasheesh/ Buti Musabbeh Al Ghasheesh
5th 71 Al IZ Sultan Ahmed Khadim Al Muhairi

Sea Dubai

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