Abu Dhabi: Strong winds in the Gulf have blown the Sailing Arabia — The Tour (SATT) fleet into Abu Dhabi earlier than expected.

The yachts arrived early yesterday morning rather than in the evening as was expected.

The nine boats, representing five of the six Gulf states as well as a team from France, have battled the seas between Doha and the UAE capital on this longest leg of the race.

Today, spectators will have the opportunity to see the yachts and meet some of the region's most famous sailors, including Mohsin Al Busaidi, the first Arab to circumnavigate the globe non-stop, and Ahmad Al Mamari, another Arab round-the-world sailor, plus French yachtsman Bertrand Pace, the winner of last year's SATT.

Of special interest will be the all-woman team, who have thrown down a very real challenge to the men during the race from Qatar, as well as in the first leg from Bahrain on Monday. Skipper Dee Caffari is leading a team of five nations, including four young Omani women.


Spectators will be able to see the action at Abu Dhabi Marina from 11am.

Abu Dhabi also hosted the Volvo Ocean Race last month, which is the world's premier offshore race and an inspiration for many of the young sailors in SATT.

The Government of the UAE has shown a commitment to developing talent within the region, with SATT providing an ideal platform for developing local and regional sailing talents.

Many of the boats have new sailors who have made the challenging Doha-Abu Dhabi crossing for the first time.