Monday, 9 May 2011

Traditional 60 foot Dhows: Penultimate Event, Majid Bin Mohammed Watersports Championships

Traditional 60 foot dhows racing off Dubai. Image copyright DIMC.

by Sharon Allison

Dalma Marine, skippered by Mohammed Rashid Bin Shaheen and owned by Khalifa Rashid Bin Shaheen powered through the top corner of the finish line to win in the Dubai Traditional 60ft Sailing Dhow Race on Saturday. In the penultimate heat of the Majid Bin Mohammed Watersports Championships the seasoned helmsman had strategically positioned his team on the start line and judged the wind conditions with integrity to earn full points for the seventy-five minute race. Al Wasl with Khalaf Buti Musabeh Ghashish came second and Ghazi skippered by Ahmed Saeed S. Al Rumaithi was third in the field of seventy-four competitors.

The organizers from Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) watched as the 60ft wooden dhows formed a straight line between the start marks set one kilometre apart. Once the organizers were satisfied with the line the green start flag was raised and with a burst of activity the dhows started the twenty-four kilometre race towards the Burj Al Arab.

Traditional 60 foot dhows racing off Dubai. Image copyright DIMC.

‘This is a sight I can never tire of,’ said Saeed Hareb, CEO of DIMC who has been involved in organizing the dhow races for over thirty years. ‘These boats are unique in the modern world and represent so much of what is important in our culture. The crews are all families racing together and sharing experiences. Winning is important but it is so much more than that as well.’

The wind picked up during the race to around 12 knots and as it did it also swung slightly to the west forcing the fleet to sail to the right of the finish line and tack. As the fleet spread out across the sea there was a false sense of who was in the lead.

‘I thought we were well placed,’ said the skipper of Ghazi, Ahmed Saeed S. Al Rumaithi, who came third. ‘We were clear as we tacked, but we were slow and took too long to pick up momentum.’

The winners. Image copyright DIMC.

‘We had a great race and everything worked really well,’ said Mohammed Rashid Bin Shaheen. ‘We had the best approach to the finish line and won, which is great and we are looking forward to the long distance race now at the end of the month. It’s a tough race and can take up to eight hours but this win will really focus us.’

Next Friday 13th May is the final event in the Majid Bin Mohammed Watersports Championships, a 22ft dhow race. The final event of the DIMC season is the 60ft dhow race called Al Gaffal, which means ‘the return’ commemorating the pearl divers route home to Dubai. The race will be held on May 28th.