x Abu Dhabi, UAEFriday 21 July 2017

All eyes on notorious swell ahead of today's action

The UAE's first official surfing competition will begin this afternoon on Dubai's Sunset Beach.

DUBAI // The UAE's first official surfing competition will begin this afternoon on Dubai's Sunset Beach after more than a decade of struggles to gain recognition for the sport. The brainchild of Scott Chambers and Daniel van Dooren, lifelong surfers and UAE residents, the first Dubai Sunset Open will see some 64 surfers - amateurs and professionals - compete in one of three divisions: the grommets, for those less than 14 years old; the longboard; and the open division for short board riders.

With the Emirate's swell notoriously difficult to predict, Chambers and van Dooren, of Surf Dubai, had agreed a four-week window of opportunity for the elimination contest with the local authorities, beginning on April 8 and ending on May 1. A decent swell for the next two days will see the grommets competition finally get underway at midday. There are 12 youngsters signed up to compete and between two and four surfers will compete in the water at the same time, in 15 to 20-minute heats, with the best one or two progressing to the next stage.

Prizes of surf apparel packages will be available as well as surf holidays for the larger shortboard competition. Chambers said the grommets division, which needs waves of between one and three feet, is likely to be completed within three hours and the longboard competition may also get underway if the conditions are right. The open competition, which contains several professionals and Emirati surfers including Saeed Al Abbar, 25, who has been surfing for 14 years, needs a larger wave set, but the organisers are hopeful they may get that today.

"For the majority of competitors it will be their first competition but we do have a great level of surfing in Dubai with some surfers who have competed at a professional level around the world," Chambers said. "The conditions in Dubai can be challenging for the sport but we know and believe in the potential it has in the Gulf." loatway@thenational.ae For more information visit www.surfingdubai.com