by Louay Habib

The Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC) was established in 1974 and since then the club has developed into probably the most popular sailing venue in the Gulf. Today the club has about 400 members and it has a family appeal with a thriving dinghy section, a beach for kids and an excellent bar and restaurant.


Dubai Offshore Sailing Club

For the past 15 years the highlight of the DOSC is the 350 mile offshore race to Muscat, Oman. The race is run under the IRC rating system, there is a huge variety of boats entered and the rule gives them all fair racing. The course takes the fleet through the shallow waters of the Persian Gulf and ‘round the bend' at the Strait of Hormuz, into the Indian Ocean. The course has a very complex weather situation; sea breeze, land breeze, tidal effects and eventually ocean swell, once the fleet race out into the Indian Ocean. However the air temperature remains warm both day and night and there is a bounty of sea life. The shoreline provides an extra-ordinary back-drop, ranging from the sky scrapers of Dubai to the 3000 metre high mountains of Oman.

This year's Dubai Muscat race was over-shadowed by the seizure of race entrant, Kingdom of Bahrain, by the Iranian authorities. I am sure the entire sailing community was glad to see them released, however the incident is extremely rare and will not put off the locals from sailing and shouldn't deter visitors from the same. It was a shame that the Dubai Muscat Race was lost in the politician's sand storm, the race management was first class and all of the boats were fitted with Xtra-Link trackers giving family, friends and race fans regular race updates. The club put a lot of effort into this year's race and were rewarded with a record entry of 25 yachts, they hope to eclipse that number next year.

The overall winner on corrected time was Claus Landmark's, Mills 43, Team Premier.


Claus Landmark - Skipper Team Premier receiving the Sohar Dhow for IRC Overall in Dubai Muscat Race 2009

The Mills designed IRC weapon is built in Dubai by Premier Composites and the Norwegian crew race an identical boat in Scandinavia, they may well feature in next year's RORC Rolex Commodores' Cup. "I would like to thank to Dubai Offshore Sailing Club for holding such a great event and giving us the excuse to leave Norway in winter." Confirmed Claus Landmark. Team Premier sailed a great race to beat Hannes Waimer's modified TP52 into second place.

Video interview with Claus Landmark and the crew:

The Dubai Muscat Race finished at the Bander Al Rowdha Marina, south of the Omani capital, Muscat. This is one of Oman's foremost marinas and backed by the government, they are encouraging yacht racing  in Oman. This year the marina held their first offshore race from Muscat to Khasab in northern Oman. The 220 mile race was a great success and entrance to the race were encouraged by a generous prize fund of $50,000 offered by the Bank of Beirut. The overall winner under IRC was Team Uqab, from the Royal Navy of Oman, also winning the new Chairman's Cup.


Team Uqab - Royal Navy of Oman 

Oman is aiming to increase the profile of sailing in the Sultanate through events such as the Muscat to Khasab Race. Saleem Zawawi, Chairman of Marina Bandar Al Rowdha said, "We have had great feedback from attendees and participants of the event, all of whom said how professionally organised and, most importantly, what a great deal of fun this regatta was.  Sailing used to be a major hobby for many Omanis and expatriates and the aim of the regatta has been to put some of that enthusiasm and excitement back into the sport and who knows, encourage a new generation of national sailing champions!"

The bottom line is that sailing has been part of Arab culture for thousands of years, the countries of this region are embracing the sport of yacht racing, to encourage the local population to take part and also to attract tourism to the region. There is no doubt yacht racing is on the up in the Middle East and IRC is proving to be the rule of choice.

All images: Louay Habib