The 2018 Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race officially ended on Tuesday in Muscat, Oman.
Of the 15 boats that started the 26th edition of the race, eight reached the finish-line at Marina Bandar Al Rowdha having departed from Dubai Offshore Sailing Club on Thursday, March 8.
The remainder of the entries retired from racing for various reasons. A variety of modern keelboats were racing in their respective classes.
First over the finish in Muscat, to take “Line Honours”, was Yacht Switchblade, skippered by owner Simon Reeves. Switchblade is a Beneteau First 36.7 with 5 crew on-board and completed the course in 3 days and 5 hours, finishing just minutes ahead of another Beneteau First 36.7, Yacht Shahrazad, after an exciting tacking duel in the closing miles of the race.
The Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race has often been referred to as “the race of two halves”, as the weather conditions on the initial run up the western side of the United Arab Emirates and the Musandam Peninsula can differ so greatly from those seen from the Straits of Hormuz, across the Gulf of Oman to Muscat.
This year a race-within-a-race saw boats also competing in “The Sprint to the Corner” which proved to be a great drag race up the Arabian Gulf, negotiating the fishing nets off the Northern Emirates & the potential katabatic winds of the Musandam escarpments.
First to reach the virtual finish line off the northern point of the peninsula was Yacht El-Seraya from Kuwait, owned & skippered by father & son Fawzi & Naser Sultan.
Second was Yacht Switchblade followed by Yacht Shahrazad at third. From then on, it was a different story as the crews had to deal with very light wind conditions once through “the gap” at the tip of the peninsula, and several of the larger boats including the 100ft Nautor Swan Yacht Rusalka and both of the Abu Dhabi Pindar Volvo60’s were forced to retire, proving the point that the big boats don’t always win.
After a frustrating day for many boats, those who had kept to the East gained more wind and the chase was on again.
The race organiser and international race officials were keen to enforce all the required maritime exclusion zones, so all boats had to avoid any restricted or contested waters.
The race officials as well as friends & family onshore, were able to follow the entire race through an online tracker. The tracker also doubled as an emergency response system, which gave everyone a sense of security in an area that has very limited mobile phone coverage.
The tracker information over the next two days would be well used as training information for any future skippers in this region. With light winds from a weak weather system in the Gulf of Oman, progress was slow, but the lead boats were able to pull ahead by keeping further out into the Gulf of Oman.
From then on it was a race of tactics & the remaining trophies would be awarded according to IRC international handicap protocol. IRC handicap results are reliant on a boats’ measurements, rather than the number of crew on board.
First in the overall IRC division was Yacht Switchblade, closely followed by Yacht Shahrazad & Yacht Sandpiper. Yacht Shahrazad owned & skippered by David Worrall, triumphed in the inaugural Dubai to Muscat Race Double-handed division, beating Yacht Twister. These boats competed with the additional factor of having just two sailors on board.
No Club Class registered boats made it to Muscat.
In another first for the 2018 event, the race organisers introduced the Virtual Regatta online game, allowing skippers of virtual boats to compete against the real boats using their tracker positions. This proved to be a great success with almost 24,000 virtual boats taking part.