At age 24, Adil Khalid already has a long list of achievements on his sailing CV.
He represented the UAE at the 2008 Beijing Olympics and the 2010 Asian Games and became the first Emirati sailor in the Volvo Ocean Race when he was picked from more than 120 hopefuls to be a member of the crew on the Abu Dhabi Ocean Racing team.
He is by no means ready to call time on his sailing career. He hopes to participate in the Volvo Ocean Race again in 2014/15 and to qualify for the 2016 Olympic Games in Brazil.
His immediate task is to skipper the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club (ADSYC) team in the Sailing Arabia - The Tour which starts from Manama, Bahrain, tomorrow and concludes at the Mussanah Marina in Muscat, Oman, on February 25.
The race is in its third year and has drawn nine teams, who will sail 760 nautical miles and stop in four countries.
Abu Dhabi is making its debut with a full Emirati crew skippered by Khalid.
"I had the dream when I did the Volvo Ocean Race to have a team of our own and going around the world. Now we have got this opportunity. I think this can be the start I was looking forward to," Khalid said.
He spends much of his free time passing on his experience to promising youngsters at the ADSYC which, he hopes, will one day represent the UAE at the highest level.
And he sees the tour as a perfect platform for Emirati sailors to prove themselves.
"This opportunity would certainly encourage the youth who want to pursue sailing careers," he said. "This is also an opportunity for them to go beyond the national and regional level, like in the Olympics.
This is the start for the crew on-board the Abu Dhabi team and, hopefully, more opportunities will follow. The Volvo Ocean Race is the ultimate dream and, who knows, there may be more than one Emirati sailor in this world race next time, and perhaps, an entire crew in years to come."
The decision to enter a team in Sailing Arabia was made at short notice.
"It all happened so suddenly," Khalid said. "The boat was ordered last December and it arrived last month.
"We started training as soon as we were told that we were taking part in the race. We even did a race from Dubai to Muscat and finished third. We have had very little time to prepare but we are ready."
Khalid is trying not to think about winning the event, but concedes that a podium finish would be a great achievement.
"We represent the country and the club, and a good result would be a good advertisement for the sport," he said.
Khalid and much of his crew - Ahmed Al Qubaisi, Ayub Al Balooshi, Ahmed Al Hammadi, Yousef Al Qubaisi and Ahmed Al Marzooqi - are long-time friends; Yousef bin Lahej, the navigator, was his coach when he was a child.
"He treats me more like a friend than a pupil and we get on well as teammates," Khalid said of Bin Lahej. "Ahmed [Al Qubaisi] and Ayub are my school friends for more than 10 years.
"We have spent a lot of time together and we understand each other like family members. They all want to win and this is the good thing. If we don't win [at least] we have done our best."
The first leg, from Bahrain to Qatar, includes 17 hours of non-stop sailing.
Khalid said it will be a learning experience for his crew. "You can just imagine how tough it is to be competing for that long on a single leg. As the skipper, it is also a new experience for me.
"This is the first time for me and my crew to be competing on a 15-day sailing competition. We want to share the moment, soak in the experience as much as possible.
"We know how to keep ourselves in good spirits like sharing the work, cracking jokes, singing and lot of other ways to keep ourselves busy and entertained.
"They are going to learn something new every two or five hours during this journey, being the first-time experience. There may be strong winds, storms and strong waves.
"They will learn a lot of things about the safety, to come out of difficult situations. And remember, this is not just sailing but it's a race and we have to compete against all odds that come our way.
"Winds can pick up speed and go up to 135 knots per kilometre. I have been in a lot of situations like this in the Volvo Ocean Race with waves of over 40 feet. Sometimes it is so frightening you think of your life."
Khalid is even adept at repairs.
"You need to have all this know-how as a sailor," he said. "I have sailed around the world and when it comes to the smaller boats it is much easier."
On being chosen to be part of the Volvo Ocean Race, he said: "You can say that I was lucky but at the same time I worked very hard to achieve that objective.
"My family supported me, the government, the club, they all contributed to what I have achieved up to now."
Thengumtharayil Padmanabhan, a sailing instructor at ADSYC, has known Khalid for nearly 20 years.
"I have seen him grow in front of my eyes and feel proud of his achievements," said Padmanabhan, who has been working as a sailing instructor in the UAE for nearly 30 years.
"He has the passion, ambition, good work ethic and the discipline to fulfil his goals. He is also very friendly and an obedient person. I am very confident they will return triumphant in the Sailing Arabia race."
Khalid's family has been involved in sailing since the days of his great grandfather.
"I use to join them to go to the sea with my brothers and cousins. We use to compete against each other. That's how it all started for me," he said.
Khalid is the third of four boys and he chose a career in sailing over academics, where his brothers excelled. "My parents were very supportive and they gave me the independence to select my own career. And I must say I was very lucky to make the grade. Now, sailing is everything in my life."
Khalid played a little football when he was younger but says that was just for fun.
His utmost ambition is to qualify for the 2016 Olympics in Brazil and to help younger sailors at his club achieve the same objective. "We have a brand new club that is only 18 months old and already there are more than 150 kids from different schools undergoing training.
"I am sure at least 10 per cent from this batch will have the potential to make the grade," he said.