Fujairah Traditional sailing Race

A legendary Arabic sport, the dhow sailing races are without a doubt the most spectacular and graceful.

In keeping with tradition, all dhows gather at the starting line and on the starter’s flare, hoist their sails almost instantaneously to illuminate the coastline in a blaze of white.

The races are divided into two classes of 43ft and 60ft, and competitors have to abide by strict rules drawn up by the race organisers, the UAE Marine Sport
Federation (MSF), responsible for organising all of the traditional races.

The dhows are all designed in exactly the same fashion as those used by the pearl diving vessels of yesteryear.

The boat’s hull or “Haikal” must be made of Al Saay wood and although competitors are allowed to varnish the dhow, painting the interior or exterior is strictly prohibited. It is also strictly against the rules to use fibreglass in the construction of the hull, although it can be used in strengthening the outer part of the mast called “Al Dukal”.

The huge sails are made from silk or nylon fabric and various colours are permitted, though few stray away from the traditional white.

In keeping with tradition, all dhows have to be equipped with four oars, but they must not be used during the race. Mother Nature provides the only assistance to the sailors in the unpredictable form of wind that either fills the sails, or leaves the boats stranded in calm seas.

All races cover a specified distance in nautical miles on a particular course chosen. These can alter depending on the weather conditions prevailing on the day of the race.