Back to the Future. (D)how to mix the past and future of Yacht Racing. 1

Classic yacht racing has seen a resurgence in recent years. There is something about watching wooden boats with white sails that makes people smile. Not just hard-core racers, but children and people who have an appreciation of¬†aesthetics. Perhaps one day, the 72 foot catamaran with a wing-mast designed for the America’s Cup will be viewed with the same passion and nostalgia as a J-Class or a Couta boat or a Dhow, but it has a lot of history to compete with.

[cleeng_content id=”571003212″ description=”99 cents or 10,000 hours. The path to being an expert can be easy or hard. ” price=”0.99″]The Middle East has been identified as a place that will be important for the sport of sailing in the future. One of the reasons for that sense of opportunity is the maritime past of the region. It’s a heritage that is at the centre of projects like Oman Sail, and it was also evident yesterday when the World Sailing Teams Association raced traditional Dhows off Dubai as part of the final Louis Vuitton Trophy.

There aren’t many places in the world than can boast racing fleets of 70 boats in the 60 ft range, but this is what happens in the gulf. Paul Cayard, of Artemis reported on a style of racing that is both historic and popular.

“The six Louis Vuitton teams were assigned a Dhow each, complete with the owner and five local crew. To that 11 Louis Vuitton sailors were added, plus a couple of VIP guests. The Dhows are 60 feet long and weigh about 2000 lbs, so very light. They have two sails, a larger one forward off the taller mast and a smaller one aft. Sand bags are used for ballast and are movable, it can also be jettisoned in light winds like today.

The start is done at anchor. A line is set and buoys are laid along the line. Each racing Dhow picks up an anchor off the bow and one off the stern. At the starting signal…a green flag…the crew pull the sails up and cut the anchor lines. The Dhows quickly accelerate up to 10 knots of boat speed, in just 7 knots of wind.

In a steampunk 1¬†future, these boats would make a great America’s Cup class. They meet all the criteria of Russell Coutts New Deal design brief; they produce dynamic and close racing, they use green and cost effective technologies, they are distinctive and they can race in a wide wind range. they are challenging to sail and rely on human skill rather than technology…

For now though, the Dhow provides a reason to look in the direction of Dubai to bring attention to the final round of the Louis Vuitton Trophy in its current format.

More Middle East Yacht Racing News..[/cleeng_content]

  1. Steampunk is a sub-genre of science fiction, alternate history, and speculative fiction. Examples of steampunk contain alternate history-style presentations of “the path not taken” for such technology as dirigibles, analog computers, or such digital mechanical computers as Charles Babbage’s Analytical engine.
  • Lynn

    No one from Dubai has reported on how a gybe is done in a Dhow yet. In addition to lowering the main sail on the gaff and gybing the forward sail around the bow as you would an assymetrical spinnaker, they remove all of the shrouds from the leeward side to the weather side. Needless to say, gybes are expensive propositions and there is a lot of yelling.

    The purses for winning are pretty high too.