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Abu Dhabi can be spectacular like Cowes, says Azzam's Khalid

The National staff   |  August 20, 2013

Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew took part in the Cowes Week. Paul Todd / Volvo Ocean Race
Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing crew took part in the Cowes Week. Paul Todd / Volvo Ocean Race

The Emirati sailor and member of Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing, is hoping the 2014/15 Volvo Ocean Race stopover in the UAE’s capital can turn into the ‘Cowes Week of the Middle East’

Back on board Khalid, who was part of the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team that competed in the 2011/12 Volvo Ocean Race (VOR), has been re-signed as a crew member for the ‘14/15 edition. He has spent the past few weeks on the south-west coast of England with his crew mates in preparation for the VOR.
Testing time Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing competed in the Big Boat Races at Cowes Week, a famous sailing regatta on the Isle of Wight. Skipper Ian Walker used the event as a test for members vying to fill one of the two under-age-30 slots for the next VOR.

Quite a gathering Cowes Week, which began in 1826 and attracts up to 1,000 boats, is as much a social event as a sailing one and Khalid was impressed. “The whole of the Isle of Wight and southern England comes to life during Cowes with sailing enthusiasts from all over the world arriving for the regatta,” he said.

Bring it home Abu Dhabi’s stopover, left, will begin mid-December 2014. “The sight of thousands of boats gathered on the River Solent for Cowes Week is spectacular. Abu Dhabi – where we sometimes have upwards of 100 dhows out racing – can do the same for the stopover. We can make it the most important sailing and waterfront celebration in Arabia,” Khalid said.

Getting there Abu Dhabi will welcome the fleet from Brazil after a 9,707 nautical-mile leg.