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I recently went on an amazing adventure to Doha, Qatar in Asia. It was a ten-day excursion. It all started about seven months ago when I finished 63rd in the USODA Team Trials and qualified as one of seven sailors to represent Team USA in the IODA Asian Championship. The first four days were for us to get a feel for the conditions and get to know each other. These were also our practice days. The conditions in Qatar were generally light and steady. The venue was extremely hot and humid, and the sun was so intense that it was critical to wear sunscreen and reapply it in between every race. On the first race day we were scheduled to do three races. We were sharing a coach boat with the Thailand team who got second in Worlds and spoke no English. This made it extremely difficult to communicate with them. That night we went to a market called the Souq Woqif, where we ate at a Persian restaurant. The food there was interesting. I wasn’t sure whether I was eating lamb or goat, or maybe it was something else? That morning at about 4:30 we were all awoken by the call to prayer blaring over loudspeakers throughout the city. It happened every morning at about the same time all across the country.
Whenever we were at the hotel we were either running from the Oman team who kept chasing us, trading with Japan, or trying some new crazy food. The hotel that we were staying at was the official hotel of the regatta and housed every team. We constantly were running into Team Australia or New Zealand in the elevator or at the breakfast downstairs. Overall we had a great time as a team, on and off the water.
On our down day we went dune bashing. We drove for about an hour into the middle of a desert until we finally pulled off the road to go camel riding. At this point, the drivers let the air out of their tires. After the camel ride, we all piled back into the cars and headed off into the sand dunes. It felt like a roller coaster ride in the sand. We then stopped by a beach on the edge of the desert to go swimming. I found out that Qatar is one of only two places in the entire world where the desert meets the sea. After our swim, we headed back to a giant mall where we ate for the first time in what felt like forever an American meal: burgers, cheese fries, and soda.
The next day we were back to racing. This day we had a slightly heavier breeze. This made it great for me as I finished 12th and landed myself in fifth place silver fleet that day. We wrapped the day up with Pizza Hut at the hotel. The next was our final day. We did the scheduled two races and then got ready for the tow in. Later that evening we went to the closing ceremony. It was held in an enormous room that appeared to be space themed. There were many awards given to the local sailors. After the closing ceremony we went back to the hotel and woke the next morning to pack for the long plane ride home. It was a once in a lifetime opportunity of which I was very glad to be a part.