Dubai Shamaal

Dec 2nd, National day in Dubai ses the 4th Dubai Shamaal race, a 25km surfski event held among the gilitz glamour and bad taste that is Dubai.

Last year this was my first venture into the ski world and I have been an addict ever since. The 2008 event saw a coming together of pretty much anyone who is anyone in the paddlesport world. Olympic Champions raced Marathon World Champions and Surfski pros. There was lots of talk about who would come out on top but the result emphatically showed that this is not an underdeveloped sport where talented athletes from other disciplines can walk in and take the glory. The Surfski pros wiped the floor with everyone else and showed not only that they are on a par athletically with anyone else but also that they have a skillset that cannot be learnt overnight or probably even over a few years! This is a highly technical developed sport and can match any olther branch of paddlesport for professionalism and expertise. Having said that though, for the novice numpty like myself the experience was fantastic. I would liken ski racing to two other sports. The first is skiing in that whatever your level, beginner to advanced, you will get hysterical fun out of your time on the water, the second is golf in that if only for one minute when you finally find the mythical “run” suddenly you are as good as anyone else and can fly along at 20kmh with little or  no effort. The good guys can do this to order, me, well it comes down to little more than chance! The equivalent of a perfect ball strike in golf.

This year I can only urge those who need a bit of adventure to sign up and get themselves out there! Though the recession has also hit Dubai and the prize purse is well down on last year that is not really the point for us mid pack hackers. Perhaps the event may not attract quite as many top end guys who would have been in with a shout of financial gain but I doubt it.

Last years race was billed as a showdown between David Mocke and Hank McGregor, but the nature of the event and depth of talent attending proved all speculation wrong and it was Tim Jacobs who stole the prize. This year will be equally difficult to call. Once the entries come in I will try to give you an update of who is who and what we can expect from them.

What we do know is that Nelo have thrown their hat into the ring and produced a ski that they hope will challenge the dominant brands (see recent news story) Only time will tell.

For me, being realistic I am hoping to improve on Last year where I was left behind like a complete beginner and lost some 20mins over the 2hr race. To close a few minutes on the leaders would be nice and to stay ahead of the first women would be a relief but ultimately I am going out to have a whale of a time at a great event with some great people and put some of the enjoyment back into my sport. Fun is definitely the draw of this sport!

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