Al Gaffal long distance 60ft traditional dhow race was hosted by Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) on 28th May 2011 at Sur Bu Na'air Island.
Dalma Marine’s ace skipper Mohammed Rashid Bin Shaheen won the race on Saturday proving that he had the right tactics to master the historical race. Second across the finish line was Dhaees skippered by Khadem Rashid Al Muhairi and taking third place was Abu Al Abiyadh with Khalid Tarish Atiq Al Qubaisi and his crew.
The race wasn’t without problems though as the start time of 07:30 turned out to be unrealistic. The hot bright morning greeted the organisers from DIMC with a flat sea and only 2 knots of wind, but the past experience of Race Director Saeed Hareb, which includes all twenty-one previous Al Gaffal races, paid off as he took charge and ordered the fleet to tow the boats towards the central race point of Moon Island.
‘Faced with these conditions you have to take action which is exactly what we did and it worked. Just before Moon Island we were able to set the start line as the wind began to fill in and we raced home with the wind steadily increasing,’ said Saeed Hareb, CEO of DIMC. ‘It was an incredible race, even though we had a delay of four hours we managed to keep everyone’s spirits up and their focus on the race, it was actually one of the best races we’ve had.’ The suntanned chief of watersports takes events in his stride with a calmness which belies the sheer scale of the operation, which includes all the authorities and a visit from His Highness Sheikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum who visits the race each year to give a press conference and his blessing for the event.
Saeed Hareb, HH Sheikh Rashid Bin Hamdan Al Maktoum, Gonzalo De Benito, Marwan Al Tayer and the winners - 2011 Al Gaffal Race - © DIMC Click Here to view large photo
Winner Mohammed Rashid Bin Shaheen and his crew on Dalma Marine have now managed to notch up four firsts and one third place in the long distance race. ‘It was a tough race for us,’ said the skipper. ‘We decided to go to the right side of the course looking for the best wind and for a while we were alone, but I was determined in my decision and it turned out to be right. It was a good move by the organisers to tow the boats forward while waiting for the wind; it would have been exhausting to sit around in the heat. As the race progressed the wind picked up to 15 knots and we had to work really hard to control the boat, but it’s great to win.’
The race has attracted attention from around the world and this year a delegation from the Semana Nautica Clasica Del Mar Menor race, which will be held from first – 7th August in Spain. ‘We were contacted by the Spanish Ambassador in Dubai, Gonzalo De Benito,’ said Andres Sanchez Caballero, President of the Clasica Del Mar Menor. ‘He told us about the similarities between our boats and we wanted to come to see them. The experience has been exceptional.’
The season at Dubai International Marine Club has ended for the summer and will open again for events in September. Dubai International Marine Club website