Part surfers, part gondoliers, competitors in a new sport, aged between seven and their mid-50s, race over a 6km course at Yas Marina.
Abu Dhabi hosts second paddleboard event
ABU DHABI // More than 40 people took to the water yesterday for the capital's second stand-up paddleboard competition.
The young sport, which involves balancing on top of a large surfboard while paddling, is gaining popularity across the age groups.
The youngest participant at the Yas Marina event yesterday afternoon was seven, and the oldest in her mid-50s.
Daniel van Dooren, 25, a Dubai resident, was the fastest among male participants, covering 6 kilometres in 46 minutes.
Mr van Dooren shared the Dh15,000 prize pool with the five other fastest men and women in the field of 42.
"I do a lot of paddling but this was my first race," said the co-owner of the surfing school Surf Dubai. "It was very tough but good fun."
Mr van Dooren said the sport was "extremely easy" and had many health benefits.
"It is a full body workout," he said. "You engage all muscles and at the same time you learn balancing. And you get a tan, too."
The capital's first race was in December and was also organised by UAE Stand Up Paddle, a local volunteer organisation.
Ronan Jolle, the marina operations manager at Yas Marina and one of the organisers of the event, said he joined the organisation wanting to take on a sport and lose weight.
"A year ago I was 120 kilograms," Mr Jolle said, adding his current 80kg was a testament to the sport's benefits.
"For a watersport it is really accessible. You can paddle in a marina, in a river, or out at sea, even in extreme conditions."
The organisation plans to hold another race in Abu Dhabi in March.