Adil Khalid will captain Team Abu Dhabi and try to temper his crew's slightly over confident outlook for the Sailing Arabia event, writes Amith Passela.
Big hopes on high seas before start of Sailing Arabia – The Tour 2013
The 15-day race covering 760 nautical miles begins with a leg from Bahrain to Qatar, expected to take around 12 hours.
"Having prepared for over a month on a brand new boat and for the first time ever with an all-Emirati crew, we are just excited and looking forward to the adventure ahead," Khalid said on Saturday, speaking on the phone from Bahrain.
"I have been in the Volvo Ocean Race but this is different as the skipper for the first time. Everyone is up to the challenge and our first task would be to complete the opening leg close to the other boats, if not in a good position.
"My teammates are already talking about winning the race even before they have started.
"It just goes to show their enthusiasm and their determination, which is a good sign ahead of a gruelling 15 days."
Khalid and his crew will have to compete against eight other boats, including the tour champion Bertrand Pace, the experienced French skipper of Team AISM from Dubai.
"It is indeed tough competition out there in the waters," Khalid said. "We will do our best to achieve a good result. My team is very confident and motivated lots. I am realistic, though. Our focus is to get the first leg behind us and then think of the next and then the next.
"Although we know each other on the boat for a long time, we can't foresee what's around the corner for us when we are in the water.
"It can be very dangerous too. So there is a lot of concern from the family members, friends and colleagues. They have all been constantly in touch since we left Abu Dhabi last week."
The team have been inundated with calls from friends, colleagues and well-wishers from the UAE sailing community.
"We are very encouraged by the calls and messages through the social media," Khalid said.
"The ADSYC [Abu Dhabi Sailing and Yacht Club] chairman Ahmed Thani Al Romaithi has been talking to us two or three times every day since we arrived in Bahrain. He has offered us both moral support as well as the full backing throughout the journey. Suddenly there seems to be a lot of following and interest generated from the sailing community in the UAE because of our participation, which is great feeling for us and great for the future of this race.
"Sailing has a long history in our culture but now it is more modern and an Olympic sport. I am sure this will be another big step forward for the sport in the country."
The race is scheduled to start at 1pm Bahrain time (2pm UAE) from Amwaj Marina in Manama, with boats expected to reach The Pearl in Doha past 1am.
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