Dhow: World’s coolest yachts

Published on November 6th, 2023

Yachting World has been asking top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our times, and Bruno Dubois nominated the dhow. Here’s the report:

“I always have been impressed by the dhow, the traditional racing boats sailed in the United Arab Emirates,” says Bruno Dubois, who is the CEO of French America’s Cup entry Orient Express Racing Team, and manager of SailGP Team France. “The 60-foot yachts are particularly impressive.”

The original dhow design dates back to the 1900s, when thousands of boats were used for pearl fishing in the Arabian Gulf. The class underwent huge a resurgence in the 1990s, and modern iterations now regularly race in 7-, 13- and 18m classes. They are keel-less, and use sandbags and water ballast as well as moving the 11-man crew weight for stability.

“They are totally unstable with a huge mainsail, recalls Dubois. “The first time I met one of the owners I was working at North Sails. He asked us to come up with a sail to beat the other owners. The sails were made of spinnaker cloth at that time – very stretchy! We made his new sail in Mylar which gave his boat an amazing boost. He used the sail for racing one day and basically beat everyone!

“Since that time I believe all the dhow sails are made of the same material! It made a great impact on the racing in that part of the world.”

Dhow stats rating
Top speed: 22 knots
LOA: 18m/60ft
Launched: Various
Berths: 0
Price: $150,000+
Adrenalin factor: 80%

For Yachting World’s list of cool boats, click here.

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