By Isabel Ovalle
Feel the sea breeze in your face, the salt stick to your skin and sunlight so bright you can’t see clearly. Take it easy, keep the boat steady and sail. Once you are out there, it is only you and the ocean, that is why it is essential to have control over the boat at all times. The most important thing is for the boat to be stable, given that it’s fairly light and a gust of wind could flip it over in the blink of an eye. Keep that in mind and, eventually, it will be a smooth ride.
Sailing aficionados often take up the sport in their teens, and, years later, go back to it when life gives them the opportunity. For practicing any marine sport, obvious as it may seem, one should be living near the coast. For sailing, one must also know a few things about the wind and how to navigate it. Failure to use the right technique can make the boat flip over. However, since the boats are light, turning them back over is simple.
When it’s a small boat, like a laser class dinghy, the key is not necessarily strength but agility. It’s also imperative to know basic concepts about the boat, without forgetting to enjoy the ride. When it’s too windy, going out with the boat is dangerous, while no wind, on the other hand, will make it boring.
The Qatar Sailing and Rowing Federation was founded in 2003 under the umbrella of the Qatar Olympic Committee. It provides training in four sports: sailing, rowing, canoeing-kayaking and kite surfing. Technical Advisor Captain Arshad joined in 2005. He said, “Sailing, in particular, is very popular in Qatar. People know very much about it.”
The Federation aims to promote sailing within Doha and outside. For this, the Federation hopes to shortly open a new club in Al Khor and improve services at the Doha Sailing Club.
In this context, QSRF, in collaboration with Doha Sailing Club, will organise Sail the Gulf 2013, which will begin on February 19 and last five days.
This annual event, which has been taking place for more than two decades, has grown over the years and now features competitions in nine categories, including International Optimist (one person in the boat), Optimist Team Racing, International Laser Standard, Laser 4.7 and International Laser Radial, all for one person, and International 470 and Hobie 16, both with a crew of two people.
Apart from Qatar, competitors from all over the world will be taking part in the event. Ranging in age from eight to 25 years, they will be coming from Algeria, Bahrain, the Czech Republic, Britain, Germany, India, Iran, Kuwait, Kyrgyzstan, Kazakhstan, Malaysia, Morocco, Myanmar, Norway, Oman, Palestine, Romania, Saudi Arabia, South Africa, Russia, Singapore, Sri Lanka, Tunisia and the United Arab Emirates.
Medium wind is expected during this year’s event, which will see the 250 participants vie for cash prizes ranging from QR1,000 to QR4,000.
By training Qatari youngsters, the Federation hopes to have a team of professionals to participate in the next Olympics, in Brazil in 2016.
Captain Arshad said, “Qatar is now becoming a hub of international sailing activities. It is known as a ground for organising world-class events.”
“After organising many International events, Qatar has developed a trained team of volunteers who help the organisers conduct many major events.” In addition, “Qatar Olympic Committee has approved an international event, 420 World Team Racing Championship, which will take place this year,” he added.