Today was a special day here in Dubai. The Louis Vuitton Trophy racing was put on hold so the six teams could race a traditional Dhow race. Dhows have plied the waters of the Arabian Gulf for hundreds, if not thousands of years. Nowadays, they race them regularly in fleets of up to 70 boats.
The six Louis Vuitton teams were assigned a Dhow each complete with the owner and five local crew. To that 11 Louis Vuitton sailors were added, plus a couple of VIP guests. The Dhows are 60 feet long and weigh about 2000 lbs, so very light. They have two sails, one larger one forward off the taller mast and one smaller one aft. Sand bags are used for ballast and are movable. It is also to be jettisoned in light winds which we did today.
The start is done at anchor. A line is set and buoys are laid along the line. Each racing Dhow picks up an anchor off the bow and one off the stern. At the starting signal…a green flag…the crew pull the sails up and cut the anchor lines. The Dhows quickly accelerate up to 10 knots of boat speed in just 7 knots of wind.
Artemis was on Dhow #95. I don’t know her name but she had been in the owner’s family for more than a hundred years. Ali’s (the owner) family actually used that very Dhow for trading with India over a hundred years ago. Imagine that…a boat with a real useful purpose.
Artemis and the good ship #95 finished a credible 4th. The French-German team of ALL4ONE won the 40 minute downwind sprint. The finish line was right in front of the famous, sail shaped hotel, the Burj Al Arab.
Tomorrow Louis Vuitton Trophy racing resumes. Artemis Racing faces the Russian team Synergy in the second flight of the day and then the leaders, BMW ORACLE Racing in the 4th flight.