Take up paddleboarding and cruise across the Corniche

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Walking on water: SUPing off the Abu Dhabi Corniche

It was in early 2009 that husband-wife duo Nick and Jen Yates gave stand up paddling (SUP) a go, and after admitting they “fell in love with it” they formed Abu Dhabi Stand Up Paddlers (ADSUP), which now has over 50 members.

“SUP is such a great sport which has become a passion of ours,” said Nick.

“There wasn’t anything organised in terms of SUPing at that time so we formed ADSUP as a way to bring together like-minded people,” said Nick, who has travelled and paddled in 19 countries with Jen. “Over the years, we have introduced so many Abu Dhabi residents to the wonderful world of paddling and built a lot of great friendships within the group.”

Stand up paddling, as the title suggests, basically involves a large wide surfboard used to ride by standing on it and then using a paddle to move yourself around. And it’s becoming one of the fastest growing water sports in the world.

If you’re wondering what SUP is like, well it feels like you’re “walking on water”.

“From the first time someone glides across the water doing SUP, they are hooked and they can’t wipe that smile from their face. There is something about “walking on water” or the closest you’ll get to it that makes people happy,” said Nick

. ADSUP has weekly paddles, social events and festivals which is well supported by community members. It’s Facebook group has 600 members and they are now in the process of launching their new website.

Their last event – Emirates Palace SUP Festival on March 21 – received a huge turnout of 115 paddlers.

“The weekly paddles, social events and festivals are always well received by the community. We have a great group of core members who do a lot for ADSUP and we are stoked that it really is a community effort,” said Nick.

The UAE is fortunate to have some great weather in most months of the year, meaning there are plenty of opportunities to go SUPing in Abu Dhabi.

Yas Island and the Corniche are just two locations in the UAE capital where ADSUP members have undertaken SUP.

And if you’ve never done SUP before, there are many experienced paddlers in the group who are willing to teach newcomers the basics.

ADSUP is open to people aged over 18 although anyone under this age can still join providing they get permission from their parents or guardians. The only requirement is that you must be able to swim.

“A lot of people have joined the group. Parents often bring children on the SUPs as they cruise the shallow waters and these children always have life jackets on. There is nothing quite like hearing the giggles from children as they watch fish swim under the board,” said Nick.

What: Abu Dhabi Stand Up paddlers

Founded: 2009

When & where: Various dates/locations

Cost: Dh300 per year

Contact & info: Visit www. http://www.abudhabisup. com/#/stand-uppaddle/4544500930

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Ultimate test of endurance

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UAE challenge: Yahya Al Heili heads an impressive home entry list.

The 23rd edition of the Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge Powered by Nissan and organised by the Automobile and Touring Club of the UAE officially gets underway tomorrow (Friday) with scrutineering of the vehicles at Yas Marina Circuit.

Over 100 cars and bikes have been registered for the event, which serves as the first round of the FIM Cross Country World Championship for bikes and the third round of the FIA Cross Country Rally World Cup for cars.

Run over a distance of over 2,000km, the competitive sections totalling 1,300km get underway on Sunday and end on Thursday, April 10 with the culmination of the fifth and final leg – all five stages running deep inside Rub Al Khali, or Empty Quarter, in Abu Dhabi’s Western Region.

Ahead of the competitive stages, the popular spectator test will be held at the Yas Marina Circuit on Saturday from 15:00.

Fans will have the opportunity to witness the action up close before the drivers and riders head out to face the challenges of the desert.

In the cars category, defending champion Nani Roma returns to the Emirates hoping to keep his 2013 silverware, but he is likely to face some tough competition from a host of regional and international drivers.

Foremost among the competition for Roma will be Saudi Arabia’s Yazeed Al Rajhi, who is brimming with confidence after winning the two opening rounds of the World Cup – the first in Russia and the second in Italy.

With the two wins, Al Rajhi holds a comfortable lead in the World Cup and will be hoping to make it three wins on the trot when he makes his Abu Dhabi debut this weekend in the Liwa desert.

Apart from Al Rajhi, Roma will also have to stave off the challenge that will likely be posed by the likes of Vladimir Vasilyev, Marek Dabrowski, Reinaldo Varela and Miroslav Zapleta, to name a few.

The UAE’s challenge will be spearheaded by veteran Yahya Al Helei and a host of other drivers, including Nabil Al Shamshi, Mohamed Al Mansoori, Matar Al Mansoori, Nooh Bu Humaid, Ali Al Kitbi, Ali Al Shawi and Khalid Al Jafla.

It is obvious that Roma will have his work cut out come April 6, and the same will apply for his Spanish compatriot Marc Coma, who will be hoping to defend his 2013 title in the bikes category.

Coma though faces added pressure as he chases an unprecedented eighth title in the event, and it will not be a cakewalk for the Spaniard with the likes of Paulo Goncalves, Jakub Przygonski, Joan Barreda Bort, Helder Rodrigues and Jordi Viladoms all breathing down his neck.

The lone UAE challenge in the bikes category comes from Mohammed Al Balooshi, but Dubai-based riders Sam Sunderland, David Mabbs and Alan Boyter are also in the mix and could spring a few surprises.

Both Al Balooshi and Sunderland have endurance racing experience have done long distance challenges over the years, including the demanding Dakar rally.

David Mabbs is a regular at the challenge but has now swapped his car for a bike, while Boyter is known more for his exploits on the Dubai Autodrome circuit in the UAE Sportbikes Championship.

There will be 109 vehicles at the start line come Saturday for the spectator stage, so if you are a fan of off-road racing then head to Yas Island to witness racing at close quarters. You might even get to meet your off-road racing idol!

WHAT: Abu Dhabi Desert Challenge powered by Nissan.

WHEN: April 5 – spectator stage; April 6-10 – competitive stages.

WHERE: Spectator stage on Yas island; racing in the liwa desert.

Sport360 VERDICT: if you are a fan of offroad racing, then the challenge is a must-see event. Check the event website for spectator viewing points in the desert.

CONTACT: www.abudhabidesertchallenge.com

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