At 3.30pm on Friday 13th November some owners of the shoosh (traditional Fujairah fishing boats) were fuming while waiting for their rowers to turn up for the 4.00pm race.
Some team members appeared later while others did not turn up for the first heat of the Crown Prince Al Shoosh Rowing Championship on Fujairah waters.
Haytham Kamal, the Executive Secretary of the Fujairah International Marine Club, said that the slow start was normally the way things happened:
“This is the first shoosh race of the season and rowers turn up without having done a lot of training. As the season builds, so does the training and the interest of the rowers and the spectators. Wait and see how the interest builds for the second race in January.”
The conditions were anything but unlucky on Friday 13th November for the rowing of the race. The sea was calm, the skies blue and the Hajar Mountains appeared with clear definition. Bangladeshi fishermen were cleaning their nets as shoosh rowers were readying their craft. One team propped up their shasha (singular) on its side and applied petroleum jelly to the bottom to help it to glide faster through the water.
Some rowers knelt on cloth in the direction of Mecca and prayed while others went through a physical fitness warm up regime.
It took some time for the boats to get to the starting line to the southern side of the ‘banana’ and this was followed by some back paddling to ensure that no craft had their bow over the invisible starting line that was in the mind of the referee.
A yellow standby flag was waved from Major Ahmed’s boat to alert the rowers that things were almost ready to roll then Abdul Aziz, a member of the Fujairah International Marine Club, had the privilege of waving the green flag and sending the rowers on their way.
And They’re Racing!
Boat #1 containing rowers wearing the distinctive Brazilian football shirts took an early lead and sustained this dominance throughout the race. This was the group that on land had limbered up and showed some semblance of teamwork and prior training.
Boat #5 rowers were all part of the one family—three brothers who are the sons of the renowned shoosh builder, Abdullah Mohammed Sulaiman and their two cousins.
Boat #6 was also rowed by members of the one family, indicating the value of family spirit in mounting a boat into the heritage boat competition.
From the halfway mark on the 2000 metre course the gap between the leading boat (#1 named Al Ghadree Rental Cars) and those in second place (#14 named Al Ghadree Group 2) began to narrow the lead, thus making a very exciting finish.
At the finishing line, judged by the eagle eye of those on the referee boat, Al Ghadree Rental Cars took the honours by half an oar’s length.
The chequered flag was passed from the official boat to the winners who by this stage were having a celebratory swim in the Fujairah waters.
Trophies and Prizes
Major Ahmed Ibrahim Mohamed Darak, the Managing Director of the Fujairah International Marine Club, led the presentation ceremony and presented the cups.
Ahmed Khodom Al Saadi, the chairman of the UAE Rowing Committee and a member of the Fujairah Marine Club, also gave a speech.
Boat: Al Ghadree Rental Cars
Owner: Yones Habeb
Skipper: Yosif Baroun
Boat: Al Ghadree Group 2
Owner: Yosif Baroun
Skipper: Yosif Baroun
Boat: Al Masoud
Owner: Khalefah Musood
Skipper: Abdel Al Azeez Musood
’Til We Meet Again
The next heats of the Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championship:
Second Heat—8 January 2010 at 4.00pm
Third Heat—19 February 2010 at 4.00pm
Fourth and Final Heat—23 April at 4.00pm
Fujairah Marine Club Managing Director Proposes Changes to Shoosh Race, Experiencing the Emirates, 14 November 2009.
Fujairah Crown Prince Al Shoosh Championship, First Heat 2009-2010, Picture Gallery, Fujairah International Marine Club.
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Dr Geoff Pound
Geoff can be contacted by email at geoffpound(at)gmail.com on Facebook and Twitter.
Image: The eight shoosh heading off on the 2,000 metre Al Shoosh Championship on Fujairah waters.