Oops, Off Road


If time is nature’s way of keeping everything from happening at once
time is doing a lousy job.

The UC Irvine varsity team scraps its Suburban (RIP) and not because they finished sixth to Boston College at the Sloop Nationals over the weekend, and yes they’re searching high and low for a replacement tow vehicle and now I find out it’s Fashion Week in Dubai and bling is in and next door in Abu Dhabi they’re racing toward an inaugural Formula 1 event that will feature a Monaco-echoing waterfront stretch and as I continue along this route of discovery I stumble into a bit of Islamic culture called The 99 that has been named by Forbes as one of the top twenty pop trends on the planet and it’s all about Islamic superheroes with superpowers that transcend stereotyping and wait! In Kuwait (rhymes) this year was the opening of the first theme park in the Middle East, THE 99 Village, and the Melges 24 Worlds are cranked up and—

That was the short list, before BMW Oracle Racing filed its Breach of Fiduciary Duty papers late Monday.

I haven’t booked a flight to RAK. Can’t seem to, in fact. The online travel services yield no returns starting from SFO. Not enough traffic, perhaps? Gotta go someplace else to start. But the cheapest fares to Dubai—close enough—are starting at $1,322. First, however, it’s back to court in New York to argue points that would register beyond bizarre on the streets of Baghdad, alongside the bombing carnage as covered today by Al Jazeera (did I mention that everything happens at once?). No one said that a shrinking world would be a comfortable world.

The filing by BMOR’s yacht club of record, Golden Gate YC, does not seek to remove Alinghi’s role as Defender, rather it asks that a different entity be appointed to conduct a match in February, to assure the fairness of the competition. Unless you’re new in town, I don’t have to explain the hotbutton details. You can read the document here. The Defender side will of course continue its complaint that BMOR is trying to win the America’s Cup in court rather than on the water. Stop me, before I kill another 10,000 words accounting for that.

I’m sure of this much: to believe that it’s worth our while to know more about the Middle East, whether we race there or not, you don’t have to completely buy Ernesto Bertarelli’s assertions that his motive for naming Ras al Khaimah as the venue for America’s Cup 33 was to share the event with the UAE’s potential new sailing fans.

The comic book stories of THE 99 superheroes—each character coming from a different country—represent the peaceful side of Islam, as explained by creator Dr. Naif al-Mutawa, a psychologist who divides his time between Kuwait and New York. His work has been five years developing its devoted following, but the theme park is new. In an open letter to his sons, published on the BBC News website, Dr. al-Mutawa wrote, “THE 99 references the 99 attributes of Allah—generosity, mercy, wisdom and dozens of others not used to describe Islam in the media when you were growing up.”

He added, “I needed to find a way to take back Islam from its hostage takers.”

For a representative of conservative Yemen, al-Mutaway created Batina the Hidden . . .

Batina_the_Hidden © Teshkeel Media Group, KSC

For the more progressive UAE he created Dana Ebrahim, aka Noora the Light, whose superpowers give her the ability to see good and evil in those around her. She can levitate when occasion calls . . .

Noora_the_Light © Teshkeel Media Group, KSC

Plenty of male characters exist too among the ninety-nine, whose mission is to collect 99 gems from scattered points around the world. Each of those gems embodies a feature of Allah and Islam, as recorded in the ancient Dar Al-Hikma library of Baghdad. That great repository of learning was destroyed by a Mongol invasion in 1258. And that much is history. Meanwhile, as THE 99 imagines it, the scholars of the library infused 99 gemstones with the light of all the knowledge that once had been held in the library. They escaped with the stones to Andalucia, only for the stones to be scattered centuries later to the four corners of the earth. The stones were, “subsequently lost to time and tide. Rumors of their existence persisted, and today they have been found . . . ”

So the tale begins.

Please, Noora the Light, do your thing and hurry.

Intrigued? At 99.org you can download a free pdf of “The Origins.” I’m not a comics freak, and the author’s purpose is to give Islamic kids a read. It’s not Shakespeare. It’s not Al-Mutanabbi. But it didn’t waste my time.

The Abu Dhabi Grand Prix runs November 1, down the waterfront, through a hotel, into a pit zone in a tunnel. Sorry, it’s sold out. Seats are still available for Race 1 of America’s Cup 33, up the road at RAK, on February 8. Perhaps at RAK. Perhaps on February 8.

At gulfnews.com I learned that Beirut-born designer Walid Atallah is a bling meister extraordinaire and often called upon to add the like of Swarovski crystals—a favorite feature with his own creations—to dresses created by European designers. (He showed at New York’s Couture Fashion Week for the first time in 2009.) Here’s a look at Atallah’s version of a wedding gown, the traditional show closer. Gulf News reporter Manjusha Radhakrishnan comments that, “many found it a tad predictable.”

Walid_Atallah_weddinggown_Francois_Nel_gulfnews © Francois Nel, gulf news

Sorry, readers, if this accounting leaves your yachtie appetites unsatisfied. I got diverted into a cultural noogie, and I think that at least a few of you will appreciate it. Now, to wrap up the UC Irvine thread that we opened when the team won the Sloop PCCs and a shot at the Nationals but were forced to abandon the Suburban tow vehicle that had hauled them to the PCCs. The old dear started coughing blood. She was left by the side of the trail with a cup of water and a string bean.

Moving on, the racing at the Nationals at the Coast Guard Academy looked like this. Thanks to Glennon Stratton (gtsphotos.com) for this pic and the one at the top of the page.

GTSclose © GTS Photos

The UCI sailors weren’t favorites and they didn’t feel like favorites for last weekend’s competition at the US Coast Guard Academy where Boston College won over St. Mary’s in a tiebreaker. For a final-day experience they woke up to bouts of heavy rain, and the very Left Coast reaction recorded on the team blog ran: “We all anticipated this, but didn’t realize how miserable it was until we witnessed it.”

Yes, travel is broadening.

On the Atlantic Ocean, meanwhile, the California entry in the Clipper Cup race around the world (pay to play) arrived a calm-battered tenth in Rio. Anyone who has sailed-out a similar experience will recognize the truth in the words of Shana Bagley, who in her other life is a district attorney in a small city east of San Francisco. She said, “It’s strange to finally be on land, to smell land and to smell clean people!”

Her highlights included dropping a headsail in a squall in the middle of the night “and laughing like a maniac.”

Been there, done that. We could get along, Shana.

Suns New Jerseys