Thursday, 5 May 2011

Majid Bin Mohammed Watersport​s : Traditiona​l 60ft Sailing Dhow

Traditional 60ft sailing dhow. Up to one hundred of these beautiful wooden craft are expected to compete on Saturday in Dubai. Image copyright DIMC.

by Sharon Allison

The Traditional 60ft Sailing dhows will take to the water this Saturday to race in the penultimate event of the Majid Bin Mohammed Watersports Championships. The Championship, which is an annual event and incorporates a series of races under the patronage of His Highness Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who presents trophies to the competitors to encourage and develop watersports in the region.

The last 60ft dhow race was extraordinary; it was during the Louis Vuitton Trophy (LVT), held at Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) in November 2010. The ‘Heritage Race’ as it became known was a great success and was the first time ‘foreigners’ had ever been allowed to race on the traditional dhow of the Emirates. Teams comprised of six local crewmembers and fourteen international sailors who were competing in the LVT on the version 5 Americas Cup Class (ACC) boats. The contrast between the wooden dhows with their triangular sails and little in the way of modern comfort was a stark contrast compared to the 85ft state of the art carbon fibre ACC boats and made an historic race.

Emirates Team New Zealand racing a traditional 60 foot dhow in Dubai last November. This was the first time that foreigners had been allowed to race these majestic, twin-masted, ships of the Emirati desert lands.

The Heritage Race in November comprised of only six dhows, but this Saturday the sea offshore from Jumeirah will host up to a hundred dhows racing towards the iconic Burj Al Arab. The start line of the thirteen-mile race won’t be determined until Saturday morning as it will depend entirely on the direction of the wind as the dhows favoured direction is either sailing across the wind or with the wind behind them.

Traditional 60 foot sailing dhow. Image copyright DIMC.

‘We have many aspects to consider when organizing races,’ said Saeed Hareb, CEO of DIMC. ‘There is the media, as the race will be televised live on the Dubai Sports Channel, and we have to coordinate communications, safety, logistics, civil defense, the coastguard and the police amongst other things. It’s a big operation and requires a lot of support. This race is also key for the teams and organizers as it is used as prep race for the final and biggest race of the season, the Al Gaffal, long distance race at the end of the month which is from Sur Bu Na’air Island, 54 nautical miles off the Dubai coastline.’

Traditional 60 foot sailing dhows. Image copyright DIMC.

‘We will use this race to check everything on our boat,’ said Sultan Hareb who skippers Shamardel. ‘We will test everything especially the rigging, ropes and the settings to make sure the boat is ready and set up to race in the race on Saturday and in the Sur Bu Nair race to make sure nothing goes wrong.’

The race is on Saturday 7th May and will start at 2pm and is expected to last for about 90 minutes. The final 60ft race is on May 21st.