Dubai: Atlas, skippered by Mohammad Majid Al Room and Ahmad Rashid Al Suwaidi, dictated the pace for most of the journey to claim a momentous victory in the 17th Sir Bur Naair dhow race on Saturday.
Boasting two of the most experienced skippers and crew, Atlas completed the daunting 100km race in a time of 4 hours 45 minutes.
Gazi, skippered by Ahmad Saeed Al Rumaithi, finished second with Al Zeer, skippered by Mohammad Rashid Bin Shaheen taking third.
Struggling to come to grips with his emotions after his famous victory, Al Room said: "I thank God for giving me, and my crew, the strength and wisdom to manoeuvre through this race in such difficult conditions.
"This race has taught us an experience we will never forget. It takes us back to the time when our grandparents and great grandparents went out to sea and came back and described their journey, which we never understood.
An equally emotional Al Suwaidi added: "Today we can understand it better as we have experienced it. We are grateful to them and the organisers for giving us the opportunity to experience Al Qaffal (the journey back home)."
The Al Qaffal marked the end of the pearl diving season that extended from September to May every year and the Sir Bu Naair dhow race was created by Shaikh Hamdan Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Deputy Ruler of Dubai and Minister of Finance and Industry, to preserve this tradition.
This edition saw over 100 dhows, featuring some of the UAE's finest sailors, compete for an overall purse of Dh6 million.
The dhows began their challenging 100km journey to Mina Seyahi at 7.30am under a bright blue sky. Over the next five hours the crews battled the elements and each other, putting their strengths and wits to the ultimate test.
Participation in the race has risen every year drawing competitors from the seven emirates and around the GCC. Although much has changed since the pearling days as powerboats replaced the heavy sailing dhows much remains the same.
The dhows themselves are built the same way they have been for hundreds of years, down to the teak wood hulls and the dimensions of the mainsail. The need for experience, expertise and a common understanding of the sea is crucial to achieving success.
Saeed Hareb, Managing Director, DIMC, said: "This year's race is the first I have seen in 17 years that finished early. The winds were in our favour and the sea being calm was another added advantage.
"I wish to thank Shaikh Hamdan for conceiving this race and supporting it all through these 17 years and especially for his generosity in raising the prize money to Dh6 million."
He also thanked the skippers and the crews who take part in the race year after year. "The competing teams that have stood for the traditions of this race by coming back year after year demonstrates their enthusiasm and support of their culture," Saeed added.
Sir Bu Naair Island race
Distance: 54 NM
1. Atlas - 400 points
2. Gazi - 300 points
3. Al Zeer - 225 points
4. Al Qaffay - 169 points
5. Azzam - 127 points
6. Al Wasl - 95 points
7. Shemardal - 71 points
8. Al Adeed - 53 points
9. Wahdawi - 40 points
10. Nashwan - 30 points