x Abu Dhabi, UAESaturday 22 July 2017

World Islands charity event attracts 60

Surfers will paddle around the World Islands in Dubai to raise money for people who suffered through a tsunami last year in a chain of islands off West Sumatra, Indonesia.

DUBAI // A group of 60 surfers will paddle around the World Islands for charity this morning.

In its third year, the six-hour paddle organised by Surf Dubai will raise funds for the UAE Red Crescent and SurfAid, a non-profit organisation that seeks to improve the health, well-being and self-reliance of people in isolated regions.

"We were asked by Red Crescent where we wanted our funds to go and we said it was to go to the Mentawai Tsunami Appeal," said Scott Chambers, the founder of Surf Dubai.

Mr Chambers said Dubai surfers had a strong link with the islands off West Sumatra in Indonesia, which were hit by a devastating earthquake and tsunami in October last year. The Red Crescent and SurfAid are conducting search, assessment and response operations on the islands.

"All of us have been there and surfed on those islands for years," he said. "It was always the destination to go to during the summer when there were no waves here."

The first paddle event in December 2009, completed by Mr Chambers and the Surf Dubai managing partner Daniel Van Dooren, raised Dh15,000.

Last year, eight people joined the pair on the 30-kilometre route and raised Dh25,000.

"There will be a big welcoming party and we'd like to see some people come down to the [Sunset] beach to welcome us back in," Mr Chambers said.

"It's a Friday so there will be beachgoers and the families of those on the paddle will be there, too. There will be a good atmosphere."

The group will enter the north-eastern corner of the World Islands and paddle behind the breakwater.

"We don't have to worry too much about currents inside," Mr Chambers said. "There are no planned rest stops and everyone will have camel packs [with water] to keep going. We will exit the south-western corner and then it's the difficult bit back. The wind usually picks up at that time and it is the open sea.

"That final leg is usually a tough slog back to the beach."

eharnan@thenational.ae