Stand Up Paddleboarding on a Saturday at the serene yet buzzing entertainment destination, Yas Marina? We could not picture a cooler end to the week.
But throw in a paddle challenge for charity and there’s bound to be nothing more fulfilling you’ll do this weekend.
The Abu Dhabi SUP community are throwing an open-to-all paddle-a-thon to raise funds for now world-famous Raelyn Beckler, a four-year-old girl battling acute lymphoblastic leukemia in America.
Locally-based SUPer Jen Scully was inspired by an event in the US put on by ultra distance SUP racer Shane Perrin – on Martin Luther King Jr. Day (January 20), he urged the greater SUP community to head out for a paddle and pledge a dollar to Raelyn for every mile paddled – and decided she would throw her own charity event.
She says: “We want to help Raelyn and her family continue to fight. This paddle challenge is open to everyone of all levels and we hope to see families get involved and paddle together.”
The challenge consists of a fourhour continuous paddle on Yas, the lap distances of which will be shared amongst teams. Event sponsors Live Love SUP will contribute an additional donation amounting to the number of laps that were completed, so for example if a total of 600 laps (at 400 metres each) were completed, they will donate Dh600 to Raeyln’s fundraiser.
“There will be some prizes throughout the paddle for ‘special fun laps’ we create,” adds Scully.
Breakfast will also be provided with the whole gang then heading off to Stars ‘n’ Bars afterwards for lunch and to celebrate the day’s success.
Boards should be made available upon request if you do not have one.
If you would like to donate directly to Raelyn’s fundraiser page, you can do so at www.youcaring.com/medical-fundraiser/paddle-for-her-battle/74742.
The XCAT World Series, launched last year with a limited number of rounds, returns to Dubai this weekend for the season opener and will be much bigger with 10 rounds spread over the Middle East, Asia and Europe.
The World Professional Powerboating Association (WPPA), the organisers and promoters of the series, have some very ambitious plans and are working on running this series on every continent with the exception of Antarctica.
Between now and 2016, the series is expected to grow further with 18 rounds worldwide the target. Apart from increasing the number of venues, the WPPA will be introducing a class system, one for entry level competitors who can then graduate to the Pro Class.
One of the most defining changes though will be the introduction of a new eco-friendly futuristic boat – the Neo Hybrid Catamaran – for the Pro Class from 2016 onwards while the present boats would be run by entry level competitors.
Some of the first races were run in 2008 in the UAE only – in Dubai and Fujairah – but last year the WPPA and UIM, the governing body for watersports, signed a far-reaching memorandum of understanding whereby the sport would be taken to the global audience with the World Series.
The response from drivers was overwhelming with 13 teams registered for six races and 15 teams registered for the current season.
While the series enjoyed tremendous success in its debut year, the organisers left no stone unturned to ensure that not just racing enthusiasts but also families flocked to the shores near the Mina Seyahi to watch the spectacle.
On the sidelines of the racing, there were other events to keep spectators occupied like the Skydive Dubai Show, Flyboard exhibition and a Kids Zone where a drawing competition was held in various categories with five winners walking away with an iPad each day of racing.
The XCAT boats are powerful 280hp monsters capable of touching speeds in excess of 200kmh and at their peak virtually fly over the water. A slight error on a turn can result in the boat flipping over.
Little wonder then that the drivers and throttlemen are highly skilled in their trade, and best of the current lot are Fazza’s Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi, last year’s world champions.
The series this year is expected to pose a different challenge given that it will be a longer season with 10 races and Fazza can expect teams like Skydive Dubai, Mouawad, Nicolini Offshore Racing and Westerlund Racing, to name a few, to offer some stiff opposition.
Moreover, teams will be under added pressure as most XCAT drivers also race in the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship, which this year has a provisional calendar of six races. In the past the response from spectators to watersports in general has been lukewarm at best.
Although the December XCAT finale did bring in the crowds, it would be great if the people of Dubai turn up in numbers along the Corniche this weekend because the World Series is a home-grown event, offers great entertainment and deserves our support.
The 2014 UIM Skydive Dubai XCAT World Series season gets under way on Thursday with official practice at off the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) with a record 15 teams vying for the top honours.
The 10-round series will travel to locations in the Middle East, Asia and Europe with the Grand Final to be held in Dubai in December.
Defending world champions Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi will be looking to carry on their excellent form from last year into the new season, but the Fazza pair can expect some stiff competition.
The January 23-25 season opener sees the French team making its debut in the series while all of the usual suspects, including Victory Team, Skydive Dubai and Dubai Duty Free, return to try and deny Fazza a second successive world title.
Francois Pinelli from Corsica and Saul Bubacco from Italy will race under the French flag this weekend.
“It will be already a great victory for us just to participate in and finish the races,” said team manager Giampaolo Maschietto.
Pinelli added: “For the first race, we will only participate and after that we’ll see.”
This will be the first time Pinelli and Bubacco will race together.
“Usually I race with Michel Karsenti but he couldn’t come to this race,” said Pinelli.
Bubacco has been racing since 2004 in the Offshore3000 Italian Championship while Pinelli’s first racing experience was in 1984.
Asked what they’re expecting from their participation in the race in Dubai, Maschietto said: “Competition, adrenaline, improvement of the boat’s performance and cooperation between two very experienced drivers from completely different backgrounds and marine educations.”
Racing gets under way on Thursday, with the first practice at 14:30.
The EMAAR pole position is at 09:45 on Friday while the Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run will be at 15:00 that same day.
The Dubai Grand Prix will start at 15:30 on Saturday. There will be plenty of activities for the whole family, with a dedicated kids zone and Flyboard and Skydive Dubai exhibitions in between the racing.
Entrance is free for the public.
14:30-16:00 Official Practice
09:45-11:15 EMAAR Pole Position
14:40 Skydive Dubai & Flyboard Exhibition
15:00-16:00 Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run
11:00 Flyboard Exhibition
11:30-12:30 Official Practice
15:00 Skydive Dubai & Flyboard Exhibition
15.30 Dubai Grand Prix
1. Dubai – January 23-25
2. Fujairah – February 12-14
3. TBA – April 11-13
4. Napoli (Italy) – June 6-8
5. Lugano (Switzerland) – June 20-22
6. Stresa (Italy) – July 11-13
7. Baku (Azerbaijan) – August 29-31
8. Ningbo (China) – October 24-26
9. Hining Dao (China) – November 7-9
Final – Dubai – December 11-13