The proving ground. I believe that Dubai is the strongest field in any race in the world right now. Yes it has the money as the richest race in the world to draw the paddlers in but for me the whole vibe on the race is all about getting the chance to race against the best in the world. To me, this is the ultimate challenge.
I got to Dubai a week before the race which is way early after a decent tour to Hong Kong. Not sure if being that early is wise but my base at the Randall’s which has become my Dubai base over the last 4 years they have hosted me forms an imperative part of the preparation. I got into a nice routine every day which I really battle to do normally and was more relaxed than last year leading into the final hours before the gun.
The new format for the start worked really well and went off without a hitch. Had a better start than last week but not as far up as needed in this intensity of racing. Probably hit the channel exiting the palm in the top 20 and passed a couple of the Europeans who had a good start on the right in the first couple of bumps.
There were a lot of boat washes from media and safety boats on the into the wind section out to the Nelo hot spot. Made tucking in behind anyone impossible and time trailing on your own was the only option which broke the field up really quick.
Once past the turn can and going downwind the pace settled from total chaos to as hard as you could go and then some. Picked a wider line this year which I had practiced and marked myself with my gps points on my Garmin with some of the other paddlers, taking particular note of Crowy (a local legend) who knows the course well. I thing I set a perfect rhythm for my fitness level and really used the runs to the best I could. Felt really solid and with 5km to the body was really feeling strong so really push the rev counter on the homeward leg once the line had straightened up. Passed a good couple of people and must say one of my better last 5km in a race in a very long time. Good signs of the hard work put into the base recently.
Didn’t really know where I was coming in the field coming into the finish. Knew I had gone well enough for a top 10 but could see 2 boats just in front of me. Really put the hammer down and passed them on the last can to come into the finish in 8th. Ironic, Brendan Sarson beat me in a sprint finish last year and I pipped him this year by one getting my own back!
My most solid physical performance this year finishing so strong. Really happy to be back in the top 10 in the strongest field in Surfski right now. Must be on track in some small way . Over the last 4 years of coming here I got in the top 10 the first 2 years but missed out last year. good to back in the mix.
The race was a huge success again with the DKSC team putting on a show of note. I will be back next year for shore. Very keen on seeing how the Shamaal brand is growing. Off home this week to do the next addition to the brand in the Sothern Shamaal. Dubai as a place never seems to disappoint on the glitz and glam atmosphere which is in drastic contrast to the amazing people.
Point from this year’s I really enjoyed were that the wind actually blew! Amazing value at the race, free food on most registration and after the race and an overall welcome atmosphere for all. Goddie bags of all kinds of Shamaal kit which rocked. The entire global is represented at the race. There were more countries taking part and I can count. The mixture of languages on the backdrop of the city and the desert is just a profile picture my words do justice to! Probably better put on paper by Joe Glickman who also acted as MC. A great hit. The man from NY is true to his Brookline background and pushes the Saffa’s and Ausi’s on the slang front which on any day is quite a task. His most famous of sayings ‘FORGET ABOUT IT’ will just not do. This one will be hard to forget!