Wake Riding - Dubai Style

Sunday, 24 June 2007 07:17 | Written by  Wayne Randall
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Image[Editor: here in Cape Town we chase tourist boats in Hout Bay to catch a wake - but at the Dubai Surfski and Kayak Club, they've taken the art of wake-riding to new heights...  Wayne Randall sent us this story...]

Following from the ludicrous wash riding allegations of last week, here is the fun side of wake riding "Dubai Style".


Early Days

The early days of our club "DSKC" coincided with the initial base construction activities of the Palm Development here in Dubai.

Sitting on our Club Beach "Wayne's Beach" one would watch the huge tankers roll in fully laden with bedrock from the mountains of the Northern Emirate of Ras Al Khaimah  returning empty for a another load. This endless activity of traffic and the resultant wake generated off the back of the dredgers and barges caught the interest of several of our original members.....Haydn Holmes, Boyan Zlaterev, Ian Kingon, Rob Klok , Dunnos , Rich Howes and a few others.

Up close... (Photo: Wayne Randall)

During regular early morning paddles to the edge of the Palm construction area these paddlers would stand by lying in wait for a fully laden barge with a following wake of 4ft to surf ....for fun. This practice was soon stopped by the authorities, but the paddlers were hooked and the adrenalin junkies sought other means of wake riding. And so emerged the Traditional Dhow Riding .....

Some of the paddlers who attended the early morning time trials would make their way down from the Marina 3km up the coast just off the Burj Al Arab - this requires that you paddle past the traditional Fishing Harbour at Umm Suquiem. On occasion the traditional fishing Dhows would be heading out at this time and, sitting on the beach, I believe I witnessed the first Dhow Ride ever - Haydn Holmes on an old yellow hammerhead.  (No hi-tech craft had reached the Dubai Shores by this stage of our club's development). 

Targets - check those wakes... (Photo: Wayne Randall)

I watched in amazement how Haydn had lock on with this Dhow. The captain of the dhow was more amazed and he tried to prove a point by trying to drop Haydn by increasing the speed....therein the conundrum for the boat captain, the faster he went .....the larger the wake...the faster Haydn went !!!

This looked like fun and the subsequent DSKC time trials then became ludicrous as paddlers heading on the way out would spot a Dhow coming from the other direction, half the field would stop about turn in the other direction and fight for pole position on the wake of the Dhow. Our club is positioned between two Indian fishing harbours, hence many Dhows in both directions and for many months our time trials were a complete shambles....as the craze persisted we developed a unique competition the "King of the Dhows".

The competition goes something like this ....

If you manage to catch and ride a Dhow wake for a acceptable period, you may lodge a claim through our website nominating a fellow paddler who witnessed your ride. If the nominated witness validates your claim you are accredited with a "Dhow Ride Fuselage Sticker" along the lines of the World War II spitfire fighter pilots i.e. a sticker for every Dhow gunned down......and so Dhow Hunting became foremost on all of our minds and our small club membership managed to hunt down armadas of dhows....sometimes three or four paddlers at a time.

In the early days stickers representing their kills were given to paddlers who proudly attached them along the side of the skis. Every year a King of The Dhows is crowned through the DSKC automated league run through our website. We are sure we are the only club in the world who runs this sort of competition. 

The DSKC league

Poop Deck

For those of you who have not seen a Dhow the toilet is situated at the stern, with a run off to the side midway between the deck and water level, the effluent is pumped out through this run off.... The reason I clarify this is because on of our stalwart Dhow riders "Dunnos" possibly the best side wash rider in the Arabian Gulf, was sitting slip just ahead of the run off ....we were on the back wave watch "Dunnos" in action.

Wayne Randall (r) & Gus Barcia (l) hauling through the Straits of Hormuz on a massive wake behind an Omani Dhow!! (Photo: Wayne Randall)

From our vantage point at the back of the Dhow we noticed the Captain exit the toilet and watched as the pump kicked into action. Dunnos now well into his rhythm decided to slip back onto the rear wave to join us, as he slowed and fell in alongside the Dhow....despite our calls of DANGER ...SH%# ON STARBOARD. Dunnos slowed down further and the spray from the run off and Dunnos met eye to eye one could say. It goes without saying Dunnos fell off the wake pretty sharpish and never claimed the Dhow Ride. 

Video Clip

Here's a clip on that shows a "typical Dhow ride - this was taken in Oman just North of Khasab."


Cheers to Rob and Alain, great site; great content - we hope to see you all at the Dubai Shamaal at the end of this year.

Click here for the club's website. 

See also: "Dubai Correspondent: Expat Eddie" on www.surfski.co.za 



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