The ISAF Sailing World Cup Final - the world's pinnacle sailing regatta contested by the best Olympic class competitors - is on its way to the United Arab Emirates with the first event due 26-30 November 2014.
Sultan Al Dhaheri (left); Carlo Croce and Ahmed Al Romaithi seal the deal. ISAF Sailing World Cup Final 2014
Following a multi-stakeholder approach by Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club (ADSYC) with the support of the UAE Sailing & Rowing Federation (UAE SARF) and Abu Dhabi Tourism & Culture Authority (TCA Abu Dhabi), ISAF has agreed to stage the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in the UAE capital for the next six years, starting this year.
'This is a major surge forward in Abu Dhabi's campaign to be recognised as an international sailing hub and another fantastic opportunity for our youngsters to compete with and learn off the world's best,' said HE Ahmed Thani Al Romaithi, Chairman, ADSYC and Vice-President, UAE SARF.
'It is somehow apt that the sailing world is convening in the Arabian Gulf which has such a long and rich maritime history and in Abu Dhabi which is bent on preserving its maritime heritage and traditions while building a destination attractive to sailors worldwide and nurturing young UAE sailors to take its ambitions forward.'
An associated deal sealed today between ISAF and TCA Abu Dhabi will also see the UAE capital host the 2016 ISAF Annual Conference when delegates, who include representatives of national governing bodies, class associations, leading industry personalities, manufacturers, sponsors and the media, discuss the hottest topics facing the sport. The 2016 Conference, which is estimated will deliver 1,500 hotel room nights to Abu Dhabi, will also feature a Presidential election.
'We have found a highly committed partner in Abu Dhabi and look forward to helping move forward the sailing ambitions of the emirate and the Arabian Gulf. This is a great opportunity for sailing as a sport' said Carlo Croce, ISAF President.
'We have struck a ground-breaking partnership with a world-class destination for a Tier-1 event.'
The 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Final will take place in Abu Dhabi from 26-30 November. Around 350 sailors from 20 countries are expected in Abu Dhabi to compete in all 10 Olympic events and a kite-surfing event, in and around Lulu Island off the UAE capital's stunning Corniche.
The events will be covered by the international sailing media and an ISAF television audience in over 100 countries.
'This year's Final is only three weeks before Abu Dhabi hosts a Volvo Ocean Race stopover when again, the city will be alive with all things maritime, sailing and entertainment,' said Sheikh Khaled Zayed Saqr Al Nahyan, Chairman, Abu Dhabi Sailing & Rowing Federation.
'By the time we enter the New Year, the emirate's watersports credentials of an ambient winter climate, over 400 kilometres of coastline, Blue Flagged beaches, state-of-the-art marinas, a plethora of natural islands and warm, clean waters, will have reached new international heights. Abu Dhabi will be synonymous with sailing and water-borne activities.'
The 2014 Final will also be just days after the emirate hosts the Formula 1® Etihad Airways Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.
'November is shaping up to be an action-packed sporting month in Abu Dhabi and we hope that the many motorsport fans arriving in the emirate for the Grand Prix will be persuaded to extend their stay to witness the Final which promises to be an inspiring spectacle,' said Sultan Al Dhaheri, Acting Executive Director Tourism, TCA Abu Dhabi.
'Abu Dhabi Corniche will serve as a superb backdrop for this world class event during which around 200 Olympic dinghies will be plying our waters at any given time over this five day period.'
The athletes are expected to arrive early to train for the event and, in all, TCA Abu Dhabi estimates each Final will deliver around 7,500 hotel room nights to the UAE capital.
ADSYC is to increase its laser and 49er fleets to accommodate the Finals with the fleets later being available for sail training to its members, residents and visitors.
'This will be part of the legacy of Final', added Al Romaithi. 'Another part, we hope, will be awareness among the sailing fraternity of the UAE capital, its plans and achievements and the creation of an aspiring cadre of young, talented sailors who will later bring international honours back to our shores.'
Meanwhile, the Asian Sailing Federation (ASAF) has welcomed the deal saying it would have a significant regional impact.
'This is great news for Asian sailors aspiring to go to the Olympics as the world's best sailors will be seen in action in Asia and the GCC. This is a big boost to the region and we hope it will grow sailing here,' said Dr. Malav Shroff, President, ASAF.