Thursday, August 6, 2009

Sailcloth at the top of the tent

Hey, hey. Big things are afoot in the UAE. I missed the Red Bull air races in Al Ain and Womad in Abu Dhabi. In November, race fans--and I'm told there are many--will watch the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, featuring the second "final race" of Formula One's Michael Jordan, Michael Schumacher.

And, much more interestingly, the America's Cup race will be held in February in Ras al Khaimah.

The venue for the competition, which has been running since 1851, is chosen by the previous winner. The recent dominance of the Swiss Alinghi team – whose home country is landlocked – has meant selecting neutral venues.

Ras al Khaimah is the latest, named yesterday by Fred Mayer, the vice-commodore of the Societe Nautique de Genève, the yacht club behind the Alinghi team, who said that the UAE had an excellent record in preparing and hosting major international sporting events.

“This is a venue that offers perfect weather and great sailing conditions for a match in February; the authorities have shown tremendous interest in and support for hosting the America’s Cup, and the country has experience in organising first-class sporting events such as ATP tennis, PGA golf and Formula One.”

The event will be staged at the Al Hamra village, where an island will be constructed to house the teams and launch the boats.

This is really cool. The Father of the Blog is a huge sailing fan (and a good sailor, too, despite the occasional mast-bonking on a windy Michigan lake) and I always have enjoyed being on sailboats... although I am pretty inept when it comes to actually operating one. So my first inclination is to figure out how to spend a February weekend on the sunny shores of RAK.

My second inclination is to wonder if the new manmade island will have a novel shape. And my third inclination is to keep you, dear reader, from wondering what that tent reference is all about: Ras al Khaimah, which is situated at the tip of the Arabian Peninsula, literally translates as "top of the tent."

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