April 28 2014

Wind plays spoilt sport in first heat of 60 ft traditional dhow race

A’alan, Al Sahel and Muhajer top in race


At the stroke of the hour (10 am), all of the 71 registered dhows, raise their sails as orange smoke from the pace boat is let off signalling the start.  71 pristine white sails go up in a second and start billowing in the winds as air fills them up. The anchor ropes are cut and they take off like white doves making for a picturesque scenery on the deserted Moon Island. Sailing all the 27 NM to the finish line at Burj Al Arab.


It seems the wind would stay for the entire duration of the race but it decided to play spoilt sport and drooped to 2 knots a little after the start. Picking up in a few places one did not expect the long distance race to take five and a half hours to finish with the first boats reaching the finish line. Many of the others dropped off mid way with just 22 crossing the finish line.


Ahmed Saeed Al Rumaithi in A’alan and his crew used all their skill, tactics and experience to finish first followed close behind by Al Sahel, skippered by his father Saeed Salem Saeed Al Rumaithi. There was a tough fight between father and son on the waters. Muhajer, skippered by Majid Ahmed Khadim Al Muhairi came in a bleak third followed by Muzahem and Al Wasl in fourth and fifth place respectively.



The hull of the dhow has to be 100 per cent wood, and it is also recommended that the main mast be made of wood, though the use of Kevlar and carbon fibre is also acceptable these days due to its better durability. The main mast in the centre is meant to propel the dhow while the second mast on the side is used to manoeuvre the boat.


The skipper’s part is most crucial. Other than his superior knowledge of winds and weather conditions, he is meant to be like a hands-on general manager who has to be in complete control at all times.


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