Ian Gilmour has a company in the UK called Pelican Racing, which focuses on competitive sailing of sports keel boats as well as training programmes. Mr Gilmour is investigating setting up a branch of the business in Abu Dhabi among other locations.
"Abu Dhabi has the right resources," he says. "It's got a lovely warm sea, it's got great wind which switches on as regular as clockwork. It's got everything you could possibly dream of for a top-rate sailing destination - apart from a critical mass of sailing." Boating plays a major role in the city's development plans. Abu Dhabi will eventually have some 45 marinas, according to its 2030 strategic plan, and in the future there are expected to be about 10,000 leisure boats in the capital. The Abu Dhabi Tourism Authority has asserted it is striving to position the emirate as a "marine leisure destination", although there are some concerns in the sailing community that many of these marinas are aimed at superyacht and power boat owners.
The few existing facilities are the Abu Dhabi Sailing Club for private members, the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, and Emirates Sailing School, which is only for nationals. "Abu Dhabi has got the top end of the market with these massive boats with huge corporate budgets, but they've got nothing underneath it apart from maybe some dinghies," says Mr Gilmour. He says his company will start by focusing on the local market to put sailing in the capital on course.
But he adds Abu Dhabi has the natural conditions to become the destination of choice for international competitive sailors, as well as for sailing holidays, during the winter season in Europe where hostile climes and rough seas are a deterrent. Sailing, which fits in well with Abu Dhabi's target demographic of high-spending tourists, would be an effective way of attracting more visitors. "If you do want to build up your tourism infrastructure and you've got such a natural asset as the sea and the wind, the unique selling point would be to set yourself up as one of the top sailing destinations in the world," Mr Gilmour says.
"You've got the airlines, you've got the hotels, you've got some marinas. All you've got to do is then get people locally to be skilled up enough to be able to handle professional and non-professional sailors. "You could then get a much bigger influx of tourists to help balance out some of the bigger events you've got like the Volvo Ocean Race and Formula One." But at the moment, even residents find sailing a challenge. With a limited supply of berths, the cost of keeping a vessel in the capital is prohibitive for many.
"It's such an amazing destination that once we've found the technical infrastructure I don't think it will be a problem to get customers over to come to Abu Dhabi to go sailing," says Mr Gilmour. "It could be the number one 'go to' destination for Europe."
While the story was good with a set up in Abu Dhabi, the UK company was suffering and when administrators were appointed in Auigust Additional reading 2012 they found that the directors Mr and Mrs Gilmour owed over 470k GBP to the comapny and the Statement of Affairs prepared by Ms Gilmour has liabilities of over 1.2m GBP with a net deficit of over 800k GBP.
The company moved from Adnminsitartion to Liquiadation with the Liquidator being frustrated in attempts to recover the funds advanced to the Directors for over 5 years whilst the Directors relocate tro Abu Dhabi, UK and finally living a Island live in the Cayman Islands whislt still not being in a position to clear thier debts according to the reports of the Liquidator