What’s the bet that one of the new America’s Cup World Series events will be in the Middle East? You’d get pretty short odds from us given the long relationship that Russell Coutts has had with Dubai through the RC44 series and the Louis Vuitton Series. The region is probably the fastest growing market for the sport of sailing, with the Extreme Sailing Series visiting Muscat for its opening round of 2011 and Abu Dhabi hosting an Volvo Ocean Race stopover in less than a year.
Most of these events are visiting tours, but there is also a growing local scene. In addition to the historical dhow racing, Sailing Arabia, a 14-day yacht race, is to be staged in Gulf waters.
The race will start from Manama in Bahrain and will stop in Doha, Abu Dhabi and Ras al Khaimah before the crews reach the finish line in Muscat on February 13. The sailing race will cover a distance of 1,408km, with six teams taking part.
Emirati sailors will be on-board the boats of the Royal Yacht Club of Ras al Khaimah and the Team Commercialbank Group of Oman. The other crews taking part are the Royal Navy of Oman, Team GAC Pindar, Oman Sail’s Renaissance and Team New Caledonia from France.
Reiner d’Arnaud, the co-ordinator of the newly established Abu Dhabi Yacht and Marina Club said:
“We will try to get as many Emirati sailors as possible on-board in this competition. The Emirati sailors are very active from a young age and this type of event will provide them sailing skills at the highest levels. We were told of this competition four months ago and that wasn’t enough time to fully prepare them for such a physically and mentally demanding event. But we hope to have our own team and more Emirati sailors for the next race.”
Eden Yachting, one of the largest international yacht charter agencies based in the UAE, has lent its support to the Royal Yacht Club of Ras Al Khaimah in their bid for a podium position in Sailing Arabia – The Tour.
Philippe Saad, Founder and Managing Director of Eden Yachting, commented:
“We are fully involved with the local racing scene and proud to be one of the sponsors of the UAE yacht in this exciting race. Sailing is becoming increasingly high profile in the region, with Dubai recently hosting the Louis Vuitton Trophy, and the Volvo Ocean race finishing in Abu Dhabi at the end of the year. We have ideal sailing weather during the long winter season and it is a pleasure to race in these conditions.”
Saad, a regular racing skipper on his own Dubai based yacht, WTS Energy, will join the UAE boat as crew member on one of the legs from Al Hamra Marina in Ras Al Khaimah to Zighy Bay in Oman.
Toby Haws, Manager of the Royal Yacht Club of Ras Al Khaimah and marina, who is also the Captain of Team RAK, said:
“We are delighted that Eden Yachting came aboard as one of our key sponsors. Their passionate support for yachting and professionalism brings immense synergy to our efforts. They are undoubtedly one of the few yachting companies locally who are actively promoting the joy of yachting in the region and we believe this is the first of many high-profile events that we can work on together.”
Besides promoting sailing, Sailing Arabia – The Tour also allows local businesses to engage in sponsorship and other commercial opportunities related to yacht racing, attracting international high profile events to increasingly consider the Gulf as an attractive winter venue.