FUJAIRAH // As the region's top sport anglers prepare to converge on the UAE's east coast for next week's inaugural Fujairah Classic, an official qualifying event for the 2010 International Game Fish Association world championship, the tournament organisers are hoping the tempting bait of a world finals spot will lure in a raft of last-minute teams. Only 10 teams have signed up for the three-day Classic, which is being co-hosted by the Le Meridein Al Aqah and the Fujairah International Marine Club (FIMC), but that has not dampened the event's realistic organisers' desire to build a sustainable long-term fixture.
"It's our first year and it is a recession," said Bruce Fennessey, the tournament's director. "I was expecting around 30 boats from the region, but to get 10 teams this year - as a start - is a benefit for the tournament because it allows us to grow." According to the South African, the Fujairah Classic' standing as a "big fish" tournament will appeal to skilled anglers and recreational fishing novices.
Aside from heralding the UAE's emergence on the international sport fishing arena, the event also debuts the region's first kayak sport fishing division. While the kayak squadron will stay within sight of the shoreline, the 24-60ft vessels contesting the main competition will fish the fringes of the UAE's water borders. Maj Ahmed Ibrahim Mohammed Darak, the managing director of FIMC, revealed provisions had been made to ensure crews do not unintentionally stray into neighbouring inhospitable territories.
"These guys can go up to 20-24 miles," said Darak. "But we don't want people to end up in Iran or their waters. We will inform the teams not to go in to the waters of other countries, except Oman." @Email:firstname.lastname@example.org