x Abu Dhabi, UAEWednesday 17 January 2018

Ultimate ocean race

The ocean's perils challenge three Emiratis trying to make it into the Ocean Volvo Race competition.

Surviving shipwrecks, fending off man-eating birds and escaping cannibal tombs are but some of Sinbad's more gruesome exploits. The legend from Basra is one of the region's better-known seafarers, but now he has competitors in his wake.

As we report today, three Emirati hopefuls are in the running to complete a maritime feat for the history books, although the obstacles are admittedly a bit more prosaic.

For Adil Khalid, Abdul Aziz Abdulla and Butti al Muhairi, the elements will pose the greatest challenge to the "lucky" sailor who makes the cut later this week for the Volvo Ocean Race. One of the trio will be selected as the first Arab to complete the gruelling, 39,000 nautical mile course, which will take nine months.

If the distance isn't enough, consider the added incentives: no fresh food (sailors live off of freeze-dried meals), volatile temperatures - from negative 5°C to 40°C - and only one change of clothes. That's a lot of water to sail with two pairs of socks.

But for the glory of competition and the thrill of being out on open waters, competitors are willing to do almost anything. The setting isn't half-bad either; contestants will tack along the coasts of Ireland and New Zealand, not to mention gliding through Abu Dhabi waters for a portion of the race. Sails ahoy.