HAREB also confirmed that the Maktoum Sailing Trophy will be given an extra dimension with the launch of an international sailing festival, organized by DIMC in conjunction with Le Meridien Mina Seyahi Beach Resort and Marina. Incorporating a sailing boat show and exhibition as well as a live music concert, the festival, known as the Mina Regatta, will be launched at the climax of the 2006 series in May.
'We said when we launched the event 15 months ago that it marked an exciting new chapter for sailing in the UAE, and the first series was a great success,' said HAREB. 'We want to build on that, increase our efforts to promote sailing and attract more young people into the sport by making it easier to follow, more accessible and more evenly contested.'
The 2006 Maktoum Sailing Trophy begins with a series of short course races at Dubai Offshore Sailing Club from 9-10 March with round two following at Jebel Ali Sailing Club on 23-24 March.
The third round, an offshore, overnight race on 20-21 April, is centred on Dubai International Marine Club which also hosts the final round on 4-5 May. Enthusiasts can follow the series on the official DIMC website at www.dimc-uae.com/sailing/mst.
The event's new format in 2007 will feature a combination of short course and offshore racing between 15-24 February ahead of the new RC44 Championship scheduled for 11-18 March.
'The new format and timing of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy next year makes it much more convenient for everyone, especially for competitors from overseas,' said HAREB.
He added, 'The introduction of the Mina Regatta in conjunction with this year's final round in May will attract leading sailing boat manufacturers and marine suppliers, as well as other sectors of the corporate world, the sailing community and the general public.'
The aim is for the event to grow quickly into one of the highlights of a season of international sailing activities, capitalizing on Dubai's blend of top class facilities, ideal climate and sailing conditions.
The 2007 season will be launched by the Dubai Junior Regatta from 21-28 January and also include the Dubai Match Race from 19-27 April. The event was a big first time success when launched in January, with the German team of Sven Erik HORSCH triumphing in the final.
For the time being the focus is on fleet racing, as the second edition of the Maktoum Sailing Trophy brings together a mixture of purpose built racing yachts headed by last year's winner, Horizon FCB, owned by Sheikh Khaled bin Zayed AL NAHYAN and skippered by Frenchman Christophe VANEK.
With the contenders again varying in size from 25 ft to 44 ft, the larger, faster boats concede time advantages to the smaller boats based on the International Racing Certificate handicapped system which takes into account hull and sail dimensions.
'This is designed to make racing fairer and more evenly contested, and we're looking forward to a very competitive series,' said regatta chairman Sid BENSALAH, Sailing Manager at DIMC.
Organized by DIMC in association with the UAE Marine Sports Federation and the UAE IRC Owner's Association, the world governing body of sailing, the Maktoum Sailing Trophy is staged with the support of the entire UAE sailing community, including Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, Jebel Ali Sailing Club, and the Emirates Heritage Club Abu Dhabi.
Said BENSALAH, 'The backing and encouragement we get from each of the clubs is vital to the future success of the event, and we're confident it will go from strength to strength in the years ahead.'