For the past couple of days we’ve been hanging out in Abu Dhabi with the stars of SUP, taking in the crazy sights of this crazy city as well as getting in a few practice paddle sessions in the very refreshing water (Abu Dhabi is HOT).
But today we trekked out about an hour into the desert to the smaller city of Al Ain, which is the home of “Wadi Adventure”. Wadi is a kickass water park that has what is probably the best wave pool in the world. It’s also smack bang in the middle of the desert and has one of the coolest backdrops of any wave in the world: There’s a big, dry, desert mountain rising up just metres behind the wave pool, giving this place an other-worldy kind of feel and providing an awesome contrast to the water below.
Wade Adventure is where the SUP surfing event will be getting under way tomorrow, so today the guys and girls hit the water for some practice runs. Just some of the paddlers showing their stuff were Connor Baxter, Fernando Stalla, Paul Jackson, Jamie Mitchell, Olivia Piana, Zane Schweitzer, Kody Kerbox, Leco Salazar, Beau Nixon and the list goes on… Yep, there’s some serious talent out here in the desert.
The wave is surprisingly good and some of the specialist SUP surfers were absolutely ripping. But with this event combining both surfing and racing, it’ll be interesting to see who has the talent across both disciplines to walk away with the cash (apart form the novelty of paddling in the desert, there’s also $20k in prize money on offer here…).
The SUP Surf contest runs all day Thursday and Friday, before the SUP Sprint Races wrap up the event on Saturday.
The entire Abu Dhabi All-Stars event will have a LIVE WEBCAST, which you can watch right here on SUPracer.com over the next few days. The action will be starting on Thursday around noon local time, which is midnight Wednesday night California time, 7pm Thursday evening Sydney time, and around 10am Thursday morning Central European Time.
The setup out here is pretty sweet, so while I’m usually a much bigger fan of SUP racing than SUP surfing, the next couple of days are going to be good fun. Then on Saturday we’re back in Abu Dhabi for a day of SUP sprint racing, which I can’t wait to watch. All of the paddlers will be using 12’6 inflatables, so it’ll be interesting to see if that changes the dynamic of the races.
The SUP racing will be held at the Abu Dhabi Sailing & Yacht Club, which enjoys a pretty crazy backdrop of its own. No desert mountains here, just gnarly skyscrapers rising up out of the sand all over the place.
So no matter what happens or who wins, I don’t think the paddlers are ever going to forget this event any time soon…