This year sees the silver anniversary of the longest offshore sailing race in the region. Anchors aweigh!
It’s the longest offshore sailing race in the region, and this year, the Dubai to Muscat Race is promising to be even bigger, with 2016 marking its 25th anniversary.
Launched in 1992, the Dubai to Muscat Race started out as a small event that has grown over the years. Now officially recognised by the UK-based Royal Ocean Racing Club, it’s a 360-nautical mile challenge that now attracts some of the region’s best sailors.
Starting out from the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club in Dubai on November 10, the race will head up past the Northern Emirates, through the sparkling blue waters of Musandam and the Strait of Hormuz, then head south through the Gulf of Oman and on to the finishing line at Al Mouj Marina, where crowds of sailing fans are expected to cheer on the winners.
“The race is scheduled for five days and ends on November 14,” says David Worrall, the co-ordinator of the Sailing and Rowing Federation of the UAE.
Worrall, who is the Dubai to Muscat Race defending champion and is hoping the broken mast on his boat is fixed in time for the November 10 start date, adds that Oman Sail will have two boats competing in the race this year.
“The first boat is Renaissance and will be skippered by the Omani champion sailor Fahad al Hasni, who regularly sails in the professional Oman Sail racing team worldwide,” he says.
“The second boat is EFG Bank Monaco, skippered by Sidney Gavignet, with a team of professional sailors from the Oman Sail stable.”
The race will include a mixed fleet of various types of sailing boats, including 60-foot ocean race boats that have competed in the Volvo Round the World Race.
Worrall, a veteran of the race, says the competitors will face many challenges.
“Offshore sailing is a marathon and not a sprint,” he says. “So staying focused and alert the whole way is a challenge: some 100 hours, managing food, rest and sleep. Staying alert at 3am is a challenge as well, as is managing the whole shift system on board; usually three hours on, three hours off with two teams of crew sailing separately.”
But staying awake and alert are not the only challenges. Worrall adds that there is also the racing element to take into account, such as making the best boat speed in all types of wind and weather conditions.
“Sailing the correct course to optimise the breeze varies enormously hour by hour because of the shoreline effects and the impact of the mountains, and changing sails to best suit the conditions,” he says.
“Then there are the surprise elements: the fishing nets and pots, fishing boats, smugglers, pirates, huge oil tankers and military ships, severe weather events, rocks and other hazards. All of this while looking after the health of the crew, avoiding injuries and being prepared to fix any breakage on the boat.”
Organised by the Sailing and Rowing Federation of the UAE in association with Oman’s Ministry of Sports Affairs, the fleet for this year’s race is the biggest ever, with more than 30 boats expected to take part.
The boats will be racing in different divisions of similar speeds but they will also be competing for the overall prize: the coveted Sohar Sailing Trophy.
While it’s hard to predict, Worrall says the first boats are expected to enter Al Mouj Marina from Saturday, November 12 – and sailing fans are welcome to cheer them on.
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Some boats are still looking for crew to take part in the race. If you are interested, email the race organisers at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com
Previous sailing experience is required for those looking to participate, while good offshore sailing knowledge is preferred.
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Go to dubaitomuscatrace.com/race-tracker/ to track the race in real time. This will go live on November 3, while you will also find a link to an app that will allow you to follow all the action of the race from your smartphone.
For more details, go to dubaitomuscatrace.ae