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13 March 2007, 11:27 am
Over 100 Boats Enjoy Perfect Conditions
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Emirates Open Regatta 2007
Abu Dhabi, UAE

It is perfect sailing weather in the UAE and the Emirates Open Regatta held over the weekend in Abu Dhabi provided the perfect opportunity for sailing enthusiasts in the region to get together and make the most of it. Sailing Clubs within the UAE have been pulling out all the stops to promote the sport in the region and their efforts are paying off as 160 participants sailing on 101 boats took part in the regatta.
Robert LECLERCQ (BEL) and Pierre LEMAIRE (FRA) were the Race Officers in charge of overseeing the proper conduct of the regatta. Five ISAF Race Officials - one each from France, Belgium, Egypt, Britain and Brazil - comprised the jury. Wind conditions dictated the start of the races at 14:00 on the first day and 12:00 on the second day.

Apart from Gulf countries such as Kuwait, Qatar and Bahrain, nationalities such as France, Germany, Ireland, Australia, Britain, USA, Hungary and Seychelles were also represented by the participants. In all there were ten racing categories: Optimist (Cadets, Juniors and Seniors), Laser (4.7 - Juniors and Seniors, Laser Standard and Radial), Topper, Catamaran, and Open Dinghy. Children as young as eight lined up their boats and raised their sails, managing their sails masterfully and single-handed.

Barring a few minor incidents, the races went off pretty peacefully. On the first day, 9 March, there was an incident involving a collision between two catamarans on the race course. The dispute and collision took place towards the end of the first race and the two catamarans involved withdrew from the races for the day. The protest committee took a total of three hours to arbitrate over the few disputes between participants. The controversy surrounding the two catamarans - a Topcat and a Hobie18 - was finally resolved in favour of the Hobie after the committee established that the Topcat did not comply with the ISAF rules for sailing in the regatta.

Cats Star

The UAE shores provide ideal facilities for any kind of sailing, and particularly so for catamarans. American Doneston ('Don') REVIS, head of Abu Dhabi Catamaran Fleet, helps sailing enthusiasts make the maximum of it. Catamarans have been taking part in local regattas only since last year, largely due to the efforts of Don, who has taken great initiative in bringing together local catamaran enthusiasts under one umbrella and setting up the Catamaran Fleet, Abu Dhabi. Talents within the UAE include expatriates like John DOWNEY and William BROWN (GBR) and promising young 15 year old talent Rein DE WAAL (NED).

DOWNEY, who is extremely interested in competitive sailing, was British National Champion in his younger days for the Tornado multihull. He continues to compete at various levels. DOWNEY came in second in the Emirates Open Regatta on a Spitfire and will be participating in the A-Catamaran European Championship in Murcia Spain this June under the UAE flag.

The principal hosts of the Regatta were the Emirates Sailing School (a department of the Emirates Heritage Club), in close cooperation with Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC). Officials from these clubs make no secret of their ultimate aim - to make the United Arab Emirates count as a world class destination for holding international sailing championships. The UAE is already a top notch venue in powerboat racing. There is no reason why the same should not become a reality for sailing.

Sujata Devadas (As Amended By ISAF). Image, Action from the UAE:© Sujata Devadas
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