x Abu Dhabi, UAESunday 23 July 2017

'I felt the wrath of the water'

The author takes a shot at the Jumeirah Sceirah and finds it's more than a thrill a minute.

Normally when a man drops 32 metres in eight seconds, he at least has the good sense to wear a helmet. I was not even wearing suncream.

But water slides are not about good sense. They are about the abandonment of it.

Moments earlier, on the 32-metre hike to the top of the renovated Jumeirah Sceirah, I had encountered two quite sensible media members walking back down in their swimming gear.

"I'm not doing it," one said, sheepishly. The other was more confident. "There's no way I'm getting into that," he said.

I figured it couldn't be that bad; two teenagers had explained just 20 minutes earlier what a thrill it was.

But by the time I reached the top, took in the view and got into the capsule, it suddenly dawned on me what I was about to do.

I went ahead anyhow.

I had a little difficulty with the instructions. Fold your feet and cross your arms, they said. Was it the left foot over the right or vice versa? I was trying to beat the 3-2-1 countdown while figuring out which stance felt most comfortable.

Once I got into the capsule, the see-through door closed and I checked to make sure my legs were crossed properly (I went for right over left). I glanced at the sand-coloured trapdoor below, but didn't really want to see it. Instead, I fixed my eyes on the Jumeirah Beach Hotel.

The countdown began and the hotel disappeared. I was falling hard. Something roared, either me or the water; I had too much going on to figure out which.

Water was gushing everywhere and one of my contact lenses seemed to shove in to the back of my head.

It was fast.

I realised my right over left foot combination wasn't working and as a result felt the wrath of the water like a power hose up my shorts.

Just as I was getting the hang of it, there was another steep drop. I held my breath and then the harsh morning sun hit me. The water in front of me shot up and made a shape like the ring of vapour around a jet when it breaks the sound barrier.

Out of breath and physically weak, I ventured back for another try. The second drop was just as thrilling as the first and I kept my legs tighter this time and went much faster.

After the fourth run it was time to get back to the office.

* Eugene Harnan