Roof racks were loaded down, paddles and gear were tossed in the trunk, and it was on the road to Abu Dhabi. Approximately 130 surfers and paddlers from across the UAE descended upon the Volvo Ocean Race Destination Village beach on January 14 for a special What’SUP Paddle Out, sending PUMA’s Mar Mostro and the entire fleet off for the start of Leg 3 from Abu Dhabi to Sanya, China.
PUMA and Surf Shop Dubai, along with support from UAE SUP Abu Dhabi, coordinated the gathering and along with a giant group wave from the paddlers as the boats departed the dock. H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, founder of UAE SUP, and his son, Skeikh Mohamed Bin Ahmed Al Nahyan, took part in what turned out to be the UAE’s biggest paddle out to date. One local paddler also won one of the limited edition PUMA/Laird Boards.
“GREAT and impressive," said H.H. Sheikh Ahmed Bin Hamdan Al Nahyan, UAE SUP Abu Dhabi.
“The event was truly fantastic,” said Carl de Villiers, co-owner of Surf Shop Dubai. “I hope that we’ve inspired more people in the UAE to try out stand-up paddleboarding as a consequence.”
“The PUMA What’SUP Paddle Out was an awesome event,” said Mark Paaluhi, Director of the PUMA/Laird Paddleboard Experience, taking place at each of the race stopovers. “Leading over 100 people out into the water and having these immense 70-foot yachts gliding past us was a once-in-a-lifetime experience – and knowing that we’ve broken a local record in terms of numbers is just the icing on the cake.”
Record numbers of visitors also flocked to the free daily paddleboarding demos in the Abu Dhabi Race Village. First-timers and veterans alike tested the new PUMA/Laird Boards throughout the stopover. Next stop for a little paddling: Sanya.
Photo: Paul Todd/Volvo Ocean Race