DUBAI // The crew of a dhow had to be rescued after encountering rough seas during the first regatta in an annual dhow sailing championship.
Seventy schooners took part in the regatta at the weekend. Tthe Dubai International Marine Club decided to shorten the 29 nautical mile course from Moon Island to Mina Siyahi, which would have taken about five hours to finish, as it would have been "too hazardous" due to strong winds.
The crew members of one dhow ended up in the sea after encountering problems with their mainsail,though none was injured. As they manoeuvred their flooded vessel towards shore, a motor boat arrived to help and offloaded the water-soaked mainsail and other supplies. With a lightened load, the dhow reached the beach where it was carried away.
"The dhows have a very shallow hull and if it's quite wavy they can actually flood," said Sharon Allison, a spokesman for the marine club. "Usually they just fill with water and the boat sits on the surface. They don't actually sink."
The winning boat, Dahees, crossed the finish line in 70 minutes, with others finishing within the next half hour.
"We couldn't go straight towards the finish line. We had to change course twice," said Khadem Rashid Khadem al Muhairi, the skipper of Dahees and its crew of 22 men. "It was a fast race with a good, strong breeze."
Trailing behind Dahees was last year's champion, the dhow Barraq, helmed by Rashid Mohammed Rashid al Rumaithi.
The marine club has organised races for 60ft, 43ft and 22ft dhows since 1991 to revive interest in the sport. The 60ft championship has four rounds per year. Racing crews are made up of 10 to 20 people, who must all be citizens of GCC states.