x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

Take sport to an extreme

Thrill seekers to converge on Abu Dhabi for the country's first extremesport festival, featuring zorbing and dragon-boat racing.

Dragon-boat racing is one of the extreme sports being featured this weekend.
Dragon-boat racing is one of the extreme sports being featured this weekend.

ABU DHABI // Thrill seekers will converge on Abu Dhabi this weekend for the country's first extremesport festival, where visitors can try such sports as zorbing, wakeboarding and Chinese dragon-boat racing. Organisers expect as many as 15,000 people to attend Adrenaline Sports Live, which is being held at the Abu Dhabi National Exhibition Centre from Thursday until Saturday. Visitors can try 15 action sports and watch wakeboarding and skateboarding competitions.

The main hall of the exhibition centre will be transformed with climbing walls, skateboard ramps and zip lines, and visitors will be able to abseil from one floor to another. Zorbing, in which people are strapped to the inside of a giant transparent plastic sphere which is rolled down a slope, will be available on a specially constructed concourse. Blokarting, a cross between sailing and go-karting in which riders zip along at speeds up to 90kph, is among the activities visitors can try outside.

"The whole idea is just to give people a try and if they like it they can sign up for more with one of the exhibitors," said Cressida Evans, marketing manager for CMPi UAE, which is organising the event. Water sports will be offered in the creek near the exhibition centre, including wakeboarding, windsurfing and kayaking. Visitors who do not want to get their toes wet can watch professionals compete in heats of the UAE wakeboarding championship. Buses will run from the exhibition centre to the creek.

The 15 trial sports will be available to visitors - first come, first served - over the three days and are included in the price of the festival ticket. The festival will also bring the ancient tradition of Chinese dragon-boat racing to the Emirates for the first time as university, school and corporate teams battle on the water for Abu Dhabi's first National Dragon Boating Cup. Teams of up to 20 people paddle in unison, to the beat of an on-board drummer. More than 40 teams have registered for the competition.

A US-based skateboarding team will perform stunts for an hour each day. Johnny Layton, a Californian skater known as J-Lay, admired for his board control, and Chris Pfanner, an Austrian professional, are among the team's members. An amateur contest featuring some of the best street skaters in the Arab world will be held on Friday and Saturday. Fifty skaters will compete in junior and senior categories to win a trip to skateboard camp in the US.

Tickets to the event will also allow attendees access to the Barbican Turbo festival, the first custom car meet in the region, which is running simultaneously at the exhibition centre. Team Orange, one of world's top drifting teams whose driving displays have featured in films such as The Fast & The Furious: Tokyo Drift, will demonstrate their skills. Drifting is a technique in which drivers intentionally skid their rear tyres through turns at high speeds and keep their cars under control.

lmorris@thenational.ae