Hobby, fashion or passion ...people in Dubai have many reasons to cast off

Saleh Bin Toak - retired naval officer, and boat builder
I think it was in the early seventies when I first started sailing. Now I am a regular on the Dubai-Muscat regatta circuit and participate in the annual event, covering almost 1,400 nautical miles in five days.

I designed my own boat and it took me two years to build it. It is one of the larger cruiser racers in the Gulf. The boat is now 10 years old, and it is also used by the Jebel Ali Sailing Club to train young people.

Sailing is a no-risk sport, where you can never break your ribs. My grandfather had an interest in boats and he made dhows.

The route from Dubai to Muscat can be quite tricky, and on days when you have no wind, you have to figure out which direction to take to enter Muscat. The freedom and happiness I get from sailing is very different.

Brian Hillesdon - operations manager, Halcrow Yolles and Commodore, Jebel Ali Sailing Club (JASC)
I have been living in Dubai for the last eight years. Sailing is a passion and I love the mix of physical exertion, fine-tuning of technical equipment and adrenaline rush.

I own a Hobie FX1 - a 17-foot long high-tech racing catamaran for one person only. Designed and built by Hobie Cat Europe, it carries a mainsail and a spinnaker.

Despite being a one-man, two-sail boat, its performance handicap rating is the same as other two-man, three-sail cats. At the JASC we run races every week, comprising a mix of sponsored regattas and other fun club races.

Last season I sailed on Kristian Tzanov's Pal Zileri sponsored Beneteau 44 and won the Dh100,000 first prize in the 2006 Maktoum Trophy. When you are sailing, each day can be different - from light wind (five knots) dreamy type days to windy (18 knots plus) days when things are much more frantic and exciting.

I love catamaran sailing because these boats offer the fastest sailing possible in Dubai. I have sailed in Turkey and Italy with my wife in European and World Championships.

We also love cruising and the best place I have been is Papua New Guinea and the Solomon Islands in the Pacific, and the Australian Queensland coast along the Great Barrier Reef. For catamaran racing, Dubai is hard to beat.

Peter Eldridge - Emirates pilot and sailing member of the Jebel Ali Sailing Club
I sail a five-metre-long sports catamaran called Spitfire. The boat is made in the UK and is basically a two-man racing sailing boat. My wife is my crew. We sail most Fridays, and some Saturdays.

When I say sail, I really mean race. Catamaran racing is exciting, as it doesn't take too much wind for a fast ride.
A typical race will last for 40 minutes or so. We would like to travel to Aruba, in the Dutch Caribbean, this winter where they hold one of the world's largest "open" catamaran regattas and we are busy trying to encourage support for a similar event to be held here in Dubai.

Charles Francis Cholet - legal consultant ICL
I was born in France, educated in the United Kingdom and took up sailing/boating as an 18-year old.

I enjoyed the thrill so much that I took up powerboat racing in the Lake District of England. At first it was a hobby, but later become a passion.

Leaving England some 32 years ago and having lived and worked almost all of those years in the Middle East has given me the opportunity to experience waters and seas totally different from what one would experience in the UK.

I own a 30-foot Chaparrel powerboat, which was flown in from the USA some six years ago and named Explorer II.
It gives my family and me the opportunity to go sailing/boating nearly every Friday. Boats powered by wind take much effort but are enjoyable although I prefer to have the power of an engine.