• 08-JAN-2012

  • SOURCE: Volvo Ocean Race

Volvo Ocean Race Sailors Get Taste of Traditional Dhow Racing at Abu Dhabi Stopover

Abu Dhabi, UAE – Top sailors from the Volvo Ocean Race 2011-12 competed in a traditional dhow race this weekend during the Abu Dhabi port stopover on a glorious sunny day in the capital of the United Arab Emirates. Over 70 teams were on-hand for the Abu Dhabi Sailing Festival Race, which featured a 16-nautical mile race into Abu Dhabi and a $1 million prize pot overall across the race fleet.

The race was part of the Abu Dhabi 60ft Dhow Race Sailing Series held regularly throughout the year. Dhows are traditional multi-sail boats with lateen, or latin-rig, sails popular in the Red Sea, Persian Gulf and other areas in the Indian Ocean.

PUMA Ocean Racing powered by BERG sailors, Tom Addis and Amory Ross, got their first experience of dhow racing when they joined the winning crew of Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Al Maktoum's race favourite, Alzeer, which was skippered by Mohamed Rashed Shaheen Al Marar.

"Having the Puma team on board was very interesting, they fitted right in," said Al Marar. "Although, talking to them, I wouldn't want to do the Volvo Ocean Race, that sounds very tough."

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing also featured a several sailors on-board a dhow including skipper Ian Walker. Other top Volvo Ocean Race sailors taking part included Chris Nicholson (CAMPER with Emirates Team New Zealand), Jean-Luc Nélias (Groupama sailing team) and Joca Signorini (Telefónica).

The race started around 12 nautical miles north west of the city where a fleet of 75 of the sixty-foot dhows began to congregate from mid-morning. Just after 1400 local time, the fleet anchored along a start line stretching over a kilometre and a half.

Soon after, a starting gun was fired and the dhow crews cast off the anchor lines, quickly hoisted their balloon-like sails, and the fleet set off en mass towards Abu Dhabi.

The Alzeer crew started perfectly and established an early lead which they never relinquished. PUMA's Addis looked totally at home on the racing dhow as he scanned the horizon for wind and moved his weight with the rest of the crew to balance the boat.

As the Alzeer closed on the finish the crew began to celebrate and Addis was given the honour of steering across the line in first place.

Meanwhile, Groupama sailing team navigator, Jean-Luc Nélias helped Abdullah Juma Al Marzouqi's dhow Zelzal into third place in the race.

Speaking shortly after arriving ashore Addis said he and Ross had enjoyed their first experience of dhow racing but felt they had not contributed greatly to the victory.

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