Volvo Ocean Race teams will today execute the cumbersome and delicate task of off-loading their yachts in preparation for a sprint to Abu Dhabi on Wednesday.
The five boats still active in Leg 2 were expected to arrive in Sharjah by cargo ship overnight.
From morning to evening on Tuesday, they will come down from the ship that carried them through the Indian Ocean.
Their crews will then prepare the boats for a makeshift, one-day race of 98 nautical miles to Abu Dhabi to complete Leg 2.
All this toil results from an intricate plan unprecedented in the 38-year-old event. Leg 2 of the round-the-world race was broken into segments on advice from global piracy experts.
With those experts concerned over portions of the seas between South Africa and Abu Dhabi, the boats left Cape Town in mid-December, headed for an undisclosed port, which five of the six entries reached last week. There, they went aboard the cargo ship for a stealthy journey to the UAE.
The first segment of Leg 2 went to front-running Telefonica, the Spanish boat on a considerable roll, overtaking Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand and taking the 24 first-place points.
The second segment is Wednesday's race from Sharjah to Abu Dhabi, with shamal desert winds as expected company. Five boats will make a short trek, slated for a 10am start and roughly a 3.30pm arrival in Abu Dhabi.
The race will be worth six points to the winner.
"It should be spectacular," the Puma team skipper Ken Read told the race website.
Team Sanya, the sixth-place boat that suffered rigging damage and stopped for repairs in Madagascar, still planned to complete the first portion of Leg 2 to the undisclosed port.