FUJAIRAH // Twenty-nine traditional racing boats hit the open sea for the third heat of the UAE Championship yesterday. The Mashour team from Ras al Khaimah battled for first place with Oman's Ministry of Sport, surging across the finish line just two seconds ahead of their rivals in a time of 20 minutes. More than 300 men, aged 15 to 80, participated in the 4km race, rowing 30ft boats known as mahamel.
The victory secured a Dh20,000 (US$5,400) prize for the Mashour team, and put it ahead for the final heat in Dubai on March 20. The Wadi Siji team, from Fujairah, finished third in 20min35sec. Cheers went up as the teams crossed the finish line, followed by spontaneous drumming once the rowers reached the shore. The race was scheduled for Friday but was postponed because of strong winds. Yesterday, the rowers faced choppy waves and muggy weather.
"The waves were very difficult but we loved it," said Nasser al Amri, 21, from Ras al Khaimah. "It's exciting and it's our tradition." firstname.lastname@example.org