Abu Dhabi is poised for a week of elite watersport with the Stand Up World Surfing Tour (SUWST) set to hit town next week.
Stand-up Paddleboarding is popular in the capital and the best in the business are here for the showpiece event.
Before the action gets underway, fans of the sport or just those curious have the perfect opportunity to get involved at the opening ceremony on Saturday.
Taking place at the popular Wadi Adventure Park (WAP) in Al Ain at 19:00, families will be able to take photographs and receive autographs on the eve of the opening day of the tour.
Last year the event was so successful that organisers have decided to make it an annual fixture and is now a part of the World Tour and World Series calendar.
Among the stars in attendance on Saturday are Caio Vaz and Nicole Pacelli, who are the current leaders of the competition. Both will be in action in Abu Dhabi, aiming to extend their lead at the top the point standings.
Tristan Boxall, chief executive officer at Waterman League who put on the event, feels the public can get a real insight into surfing before the event even begins.
“On Saturday there will be an opening ceremony to mark the start of the competition," clarified Boxall.
"It is a good opportunity for people to get autographs and pictures taken with them and learn more about the sport.”
Following the opening ceremony, the men’s heats take place on Sunday at WAP, while the last-16 stages of both genders are on Monday. The event comes to a close on Tuesday with the quarter-finals, semi-finals and finals that take place from 09:00 at the same venue.
Boxall describes what the public should expect from the event.
“It is some of the most visually dynamic action people will ever witness. It is exciting to watch and the backdrop at the pool makes for a great spectacle.
"This is a full status World Championship event, so it will be the world’s best putting it all on the line.
Our goal in 2014 is to establish this as not only one of the most exciting events on the calendar, but also the most prestigious in terms of stature.”
Following SUWST, the racing category will begin at Yas Marina from April 17.
WHAT: Stand Up World Surfing Tour, part of the Abu Dhabi All Stars competition.
WHERE: Wadi Adventure park, Al Ain, Abu Dhabi.
WHEN: Saturday April 12- Tuesday 15.
SPORT360° VERDICT: The perfect chance to meet the world’s best competitors and learn more about the Stand Up World Surfing Tour category.
CONTACT: 03 7818422
We catch up with Ali Al Kaabi, a junior swimmer from the United Arab Emirates, to find out about how he got into swimming and what he hopes and dreams of achieving in the sport.
Ali Al Kaabi
Club: Al Ain Club
Date of birth: May 28, 1997
Birthplace: Al Ain
City of residence: Al Ain
Club: Al Ain Club
Coaches: Jack Simon at the club, Sergey Burkov and Mohamed El Zanaty in the national team.
Favourite stroke: Butterfly.
What’s your earliest memory competing? The first time i competed was in 2007 probably, but i was against more experienced swimmers and i had just started. Within two years, i was beating them all, so that’s when i felt that i can really do this.
Favourite swimmer: Chad le Clos.
Inspiration/idol: My father.
Nicest swimming venue: Hamdan Sports Complex.
Career highlight/best achievement in the pool: Being able to clock a personal best in the 50m fly at the Winter Nationals, and maintaining my position as the GCC champion in the 50m and 100m fly since 2011.
Toughest race you’ve ever competed in: The 100m butterfly in the Dubai international Championships in 2013 at the Hamdan Sports Complex. Yaaqoub Al Saadi was my toughest competition in that race.
Swimming career dream: To go to the United States to study and train there. They are a different level there in terms of swimming and I’d love to train there so
I can improve.
Favourite meal: Lasagna.
Favourite place to visit in the UAE: The Dubai Mall
Least favourite part of swimming practice: Long distance swimming.
Other sports or hobbies: I love going running and playing tennis.
Coolest person you’ve ever met: Chad Le Clos here in Dubai.
Favourite sporting moment you’ve ever watched: In 2009 at the World Championships in Rome, Michael Phelps against the Serbian swimmer, Mirolad Cavic, in the 100m butterfly. That was an unforgettable race.
Eight swimmers from Hamilton Aquatics (HA) in Dubai travelled to Eindhoven, Netherlands yesterday to compete in the 10th edition of the Swim Cup ahead of what could be a busy summer.
Led by head coach Ash Morris, 2012 Olympians Velimir Stjepanovic and Ika Bolkvadze (both senior elite) will represent HA, while six juniors will also take part.
Eammon Gumley, Alex Millington (both 15), Daniel Momeni, Hannah Taleb, Destiny Hoffman and Maisy Duncan (all 16) will compete in the four-day event beginning tomorrow.
The meet is the biggest tournament of the year so far with Olympic and world medallists scheduled to take part.
Morris told Sport360°: “It is the biggest tournament of the year so far in Europe..
“We thought it would be a good idea to take our top and older junior swimmers there (to Eindhoven) to give them some exposure and experience at that level.”
While seniors Stjepanovic and Bolkvadze will be eyeing glory in the competition, which also acts as qualification route for the European Championships in Berlin on August 18, Morris acknowledges it will be a learning curve for the juniors.
“I don’t expect them to make the finals because it’s a senior competition. But it does give them the experience of competing at an international level, and they will be able to take this learning experience with them at future competitions,” said Morris.
“For instance, they (juniors) will be aiming to compete in the Youth Olympic Games (from August 16 to 28 in Nanjing, China), and we hope they can learn from their time in Eindhoven.”
The competition will have 34 events altogether, with the eight competitors taking part in several categories.
Whatever the results, Morris insists the competition will provide them with enough exposure for future tournaments in 2014 and beyond.
“We are looking at the long-term in the next two or three years, and we want them to compete in many competitions,” said Morris.
“It’s getting them ready mentally and physically enough for the bigger stage, and putting them out of their comfort zone and giving them the exposure to racing Olympians.
“It’s going to be a busy period and they will get ready for the summer competitions, which hopefully includes the Commonwealth Games in July.”
It will be the first time Dubaibased Hamilton Aquatics will have competed in the competition, and Morris is sure the swimmers will give it their best shot.
“It’s motivating to say the least. It’s something that I thrive towards in seeing that each swimmer takes it seriously which is pleasing to see,”
“For me, to see the swimmers achieve what they want to achieve is my goal as well and I am sure they will put in a lot of effort,” concluded Morris.