I’m Saaaaiiiiiling!

No, I’m not- I just had the urge to throw out one of my favorite What About Bob? quotes. Sailing ranks among my least favorite activities on the planet. I grew up heaving over the side of my dad’s sailboat on Lake Michigan because he rarely let me stay home. I can handle a speedboat for quite awhile and have always loved waterskiing, but that’s where I draw the line. I do have an affinity for boats though, and usually head to the Chicago Boat Show and Tall Ships at Navy Pier when those events come to town. When I heard that Abu Dhabi was a port for the Volvo Ocean Boat Race I made a note to check it out. It’s so easy to attend events here- free parking, free admission, and the crowds don’t compare to the chaos at home.
The boats arrived the 2nd week of December. Unaware at the time, Ashley, Kate, Jenna and I went to the race village on Christmas Eve and, not seeing any boats, assumed they just hadn’t sailed in yet (they were really docked elsewhere). So we walked the area, taking pics and especially enjoying the girls’ first camel interaction with two unattended beach bums.

There are billboards with info about and quotes from the crew members:

Jenna posed with this one for Grandma

Jenna posed with this one for Grandma

I returned to the scene yesterday because I read that there’d be an in-port race. Abu Dhabi is the third of eleven ports throughout the 38,739 nautical mile journey (the sailors had just come from Cape Town and as of this afternoon are now on their way to Sanya, China.) The in-port race was scheduled to take place at 2pm yesterday. Due to the fact that it was a beautiful afternoon that lacked the necessary wind, the race was delayed by almost two hours. I occupied myself by watching others practice archery,

build with Legos,

and try their hand at the HSBC Golf Championship Chipping Challenge- all golf balls are dissolvable and filled with fish food, which is a good thing because thousands went into the Gulf.

There was also music and dancing:

and race footage from the first two legs played on the big screen.

This is one VERY heavy trophy- I had to use my leg to hold it up:

The UAE Aerobatic Team was spectacular:

A commentator informed us of a few things that confirmed I’ll never join a crew in my lifetime, such as all the onboard food is freeze-dried and each crew member is only allowed to bring one change of clothing. Yuck and yuck.

Finally the race got underway. The only all-female crew, Team SCA, is currently in 1st place of the six teams and ran away with the port race as well. I guess the port races aren’t really too “important” in the great scheme of things unless there’s a tie and they need to look at other determining factors. At the conclusion of the race the boats docked, crews disembarked and interviews took place.

The announcer reported that three of the women on the SCA team are mothers. The best moment of the afternoon came when crew member Abby Ehlers’ three-year old son walked onto the boat. When she picked him up, I could read the back of his t-shirt: My Mum Rocks. So now I’ll have to keep track of this race and root for the chicks. If you can’t join ’em, cheer ‘em on!



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