ABOUT THE DUBAI TO MUSCAT OFFSHORE RACE

D2M is a competitive 360 mile offshore race

The Dubai to Muscat Offshore Sailing Race is the longest offshore race in the region for modern keelboats, covering over 360 miles of challenging and adventurous sailing around the Musandam Peninsula.

Having evolved extensively since its inaugural event in 1992, the race is now organised by the Dubai Offshore Sailing Club (DOSC) in association with the United Arab Emirates Sailing & Rowing Federation (UAE SARF) and is recognised by the Royal Ocean Racing Club (RORC). Rated Offshore Special Regulations ‘ISAF Cat 3 with life raft’, the D2M attracts the largest and most skilled sailing teams in the region. The fleet has gradually expanded over the years and now regularly features up to 20 yachts at each event.

The Dubai to Muscat Race is held with the assistance and support of the Oman Authorities, Oman Sailing Committee, Oman Sail, Waterfront & Marina Services (WAMS) and OMRAN.

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HISTORY OF THE DUBAI TO MUSCAT OFFSHORE RACE

Read about the recollections and personal experience of Barrie Harmsworth, co-founder of the D2M.

The first offshore sailing race from Dubai to Muscat was held in 1992 by a group of enthusiastic sailors from Oman and the UAE

They departed into the blue unknown from Dubai International Marine Club with the anticipation of an exploratory adventure up the coast of the UAE, around the remote Musandam peninsula and then skipping down the coast of Oman, hoping eventually to reach Muscat.

With most of the boats under 30 ft in length, a slow passage was expected and various stop off points including the Wudam Navy base were scheduled to resupply and to rest up should the weather turn nasty, before a final destination at the Al Bustan Hotel. Aquarius, which is still sailing out of Dubai Offshore Sailing Clubs, took line honours for the first two years running with Taffy Owens at the helm. 

D2M: A UNIQUE AND CHALLENGING COURSE

Starting in the Emirate of Dubai, and hosted by Dubai Offshore Sailing Club, the 360 mile route takes the D2M crews on an initial sprint up the west coast of the Arabian Peninsula, towards the Straits of Hormuz. The course is rife with challenges, from obstacles to unpredictable winds. Read about the key issues the crews need to confront as they race to the finish. 

Fishing net obstacles

Once north of Dubai, crews must watch out for local fishing nets which are laid closer to the coastline at dusk to stretch directly offshore and often not well lit. Crews may choose to take the longer route offshore to avoid the risk of getting tangled up but this course takes them closer to the oil platforms and military islands that are classified as navigational hazards and restricted areas. Boats that are confident in their local knowledge and the sharp eyes of a spotter on the bow have an advantage of being able to pick their way through the shorter inshore routes.​

Shipping lanes

Once around the corner, the boats stretch away south for the second half of the race. There is generally more wind towards the east, but this is also into the main shipping lanes and the racers can sail close - sometimes hazardously - to the very large oil tankers and other commercial vessels.​

Unpredictable winds

Upon successfully navigating the nets, the mountains of the Musandam Peninsula converge with the coast, the landscape gradually evolving into sparsely inhabited, ruggedly beautiful fjords. These steep mountains and ravines funnel the winds and, with warm day-time temperatures over the land verses cooler temperatures over water, create katabatic winds that randomly sweep off the land barrelling down the barren slopes to produce isolated and unpredictable conditions offshore. At other times of day, the temperature differential can create a wind hole north of Ras Al Khaimah which has been known to slow the boats almost to a standstill.

Exclusion zones

En route there are several exclusion zones mapped, including for the numerous offshore petroleum installations that pepper these waters and also for the Arabian Gulf islands. Insurance restrictions mean that the boats must respect the international maritime boundary with Iran and avoid all Iranian territory. The traffic separation zone in the narrow Straits of Hormuz, with its constant flow of heavy marine traffic, must also be adhered to.

Tidal rips and Spring tides

The Straits themselves and, in particular, the infamous ‘Gap’, mark the convergence of Arabian Gulf waters with the Indian Ocean. Spring tides can run at more than three knots and there is always the question of taking the longer route round the very north eastern tip of the peninsula, or attempting to time the tides in order to dash through the ‘Gap’ in the shortest possible time. The huge tidal rip has caught boats unawares when the breeze drops away to nothing and despite, full cooperation from the Omani Naval Coastguard, the crews are a long way from anywhere if they happen to get caught on the rocks.

The final leg

Come the third day, the lead boats are usually south of the shipping lanes and the seas become empty except for the occasional coastal ship. At this point, the crews are able to settle down into the final stretch and enjoy the exciting last few miles along the rugged Muscat coastline to the finish line at Marina Bandar Al Rowdha.​

PREVIOUS RACE RESULTS

See the results from previous years of the Dubai to Muscat Offshore Race, from the inaugural event in 1992 through to 2020.