Following on from last month's 'around the marks' short course opener off Dubai International Marine Club, round two presented a totally different test as the striking line-up of yachts and cruisers set off on Thursday morning on the non-stop 24-hour return passage between Dubai and Sir Bunair island.
Al Gemzi, whose competitive experience has been built in local dhow racing events, was among the line-up of eager challengers aiming to prevent three-times America's Cup contender Christophe VANEK from his extending his lead at the helm of Horizon FCB. 'This is new to me,' admitted Al Gemzi just before the start.
'It's a different technique to dhow racing. Dhows are all manual, with no winches or weather instruments and they're very hard work, but this is difficult for other reasons.'
'Everything depends on the crew, and how I manage the boat. One silly mistake and you can be knocked right back and out of the picture. I'll do my best but it's going to be tough.'
Vanek took over the helm of Horizon FCB from Alain FÉDENSIEU who had skippered the boat to victory on a guest appearance in last month's opening round.
Among those hoping to block Vanek's course to a second straight win were first round runner-up David ROSANT in Switch Blade, former UAE rally champion Alan SKENNERTON in Aquamarine Shock Wave, David WORRALL in Sharazad, and Yousef BIN LAHEJ at the helm of Exclusive.
Mark FEILBERG in Serdal Dubai and Brian HILLEGSDON in Mina Effect were also in the hunt as the Dubai-Sir Bunair-Dubai Race got under way, as were Class 2 contenders John ROSE in Insatiable, Ged LANGOSZ at the helm of Goan Bananas and Peter SCRIVEN in Red Pepper.