ABU DHABI // A five-day water sports festival, including the penultimate round of the Formula One Powerboat World Championship and national jet ski competition, is expected to draw tens of thousands of people to the capital next month. The second Abu Dhabi Marine Sports Festival will be held along the Corniche, near the Breakwater, from Dec 1 to 5, and will end with the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix 2008, the seventh round of the powerboating world championship.
Last year about 38,000 spectators gathered in the capital to watch the powerboat race, which was broadcast around the world. The competition involves powerful tunnel-hull catamarans that can reach speeds of up to 240kph on a twisting course. The sport has similar rules to F1 car racing and rounds take place in venues around the world including Qatar, Russia, Portugal and Finland. The final will be held in Sharjah on Dec 12.
Abu Dhabi has played to the powerboating championship since 1993, but the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club incorporated it into a water sports festival for the first time last year. The festival begins with kayak races on Dec 1 and continues with activities and competitions for students on its second day. This year the focus is on involving as many university and school students as possible, said Salem al Romaithi, the marine sports club's assistant general manager. More than 500 students will take part in an "iron man" competition that will include cycling, kayaking and running.
Swimming competitions will be held in the sea near the Breakwater and 30 boats are expected to compete in a fishing contest, each with a team of six or seven people. The second round of the UAE national jet ski competition will be on Dec 3, including heats and freestyle events. The seven-round competition is held between Abu Dhabi, Dubai and Sharjah and the finals will take place in the capital on April 3.
Mr Romaithi said the festival will raise the city of Abu Dhabi's reputation on an international level, as well as its profile as a centre for water sports. "This is for Abu Dhabi, not just for our club," he said. "I hope that in the future more and more people will become involved." @Email:email@example.com