Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club Spearheading Diverse Watersports Schedule

03/01/2012 With Wednesday’s arrival of the Volvo Ocean Race in Abu Dhabi, a diverse programme of watersport and marine-based races and activations organised by Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club (ADSYC) will keep thousands of sailing fans entertained while the six weary crews enjoy the comforts of dry land.  

Arguably the biggest draw will be a series of dhow races, including more than 100 60ft dhows racing on January 7th off the Corniche. Featuring the UAE’s best sailing talent, as well as special guest appearances by the Volvo Ocean Race skippers, the dhows will navigate a 14 nautical mile course downwind off the breakwater, with the route ending in the Corniche bay. A winners’ parade will follow the race, in which returning champion Majed Ahmed Al Muhairi is among the favourites to defend his crown.  

Three days later, on January 10th, another dhow race – this time in the 22ft category with crews made up of young Emiratis under the guidance of adults – will take place inside the Corniche bay. Running from the Hiltonia Beach Club to Lulu Island and back, the race – a unique feeder event to encourage grass-roots sailing – looks set to be a colourful spectacle as every sail will be branded in UAE colours.  

Away from the dhow racing, ADSYC’s Watersports World provides people of all ages with great opportunities to get involved with sailing, paddleboarding and kayaking, while the Abu Dhabi Junior Sailing Festival – organised by ADSYC and Etihad Airways, a partner of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing and the Volvo Ocean Race Abu Dhabi Stopover – is a two-day junior sailing course for novice and advanced young sailors, aged between 8 to 12 years, that aims to introduce children to the sport and improve the skills of regular young sailors. The festival, which sees entrants piloting Optimist dinghies, ends tomorrow.  

“Our varied and extensive event programme has been designed to support the overarching Volvo Ocean Race activities,” said Majed Ateeq Al Mehairi, Executive Director, ADSYC. “It is no secret that two cornerstone objectives in hosting the Volvo Ocean Race were to dually leverage and raise international awareness of Abu Dhabi’s rich maritime history; our family-friendly race itinerary, including the majestic sight of dozens of traditional sailing dhows sweeping along the pristine waters of the Corniche, will bring something truly unique and never-seen-before in the Volvo Ocean Race.”  

Elsewhere, the Try Sailing initiative – which aims to give 14,000 children between 10-12 years old around the world the chance to go afloat in a sailboat for the first time – has also called into Abu Dhabi. A fleet of branded 5.6 metre Ludic dinghies have been brought to Abu Dhabi and have been set aside for local children to get out on the water and have some fun as they learn the basics of sailing in a safe and enjoyable environment. To book a place, make your way to the Destination Village and check in at the Volvo Ocean Race Academy desk.  

On the Destination Village beach, PUMA is offering stand up paddleboarding sessions every day until January 14th. Running from 11am – 5pm, the sessions are completely free to the public – all you need to take part is a swimming costume. Life jackets will be provided upon request. Interested parties can check out the PUMA Ocean Racing Facebook page for a full list of activities.  

For fans intent on keeping their feet dry, there are plenty of other marine-themed entertainment options in the Destination Village, including The Ride, a state-of-the-art simulator that gives the feeling of being bombarded by strong winds and spray onboard a Volvo Open 70 yacht at speed in extreme conditions.