We ask top sailors and marine industry gurus to choose the coolest and most innovative yachts of our times. Bruno Dubois nominates the dhow

“I always have been impressed by the dhow, the traditional racing boats sailed in the United Arab Emirates,” says Bruno Dubois. “The 60ft 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.

Photo: Karim Sahib/AFP/Getty

“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.”

Make sure you check out our full list of Coolest Yachts.

Dhow stats rating

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

Bruno Dubois

Bruno Dubois is co-CEO of French America’s Cup entry Orient Express Racing Team, and manager of SailGP Team France. For many years he combined sailmaking with top-level racing, including the 1989/90 Whitbread Race, and a Jules Verne Trophy bid. He also managed Dongfeng Race Team for two Volvo Ocean Races, winning in 2018.

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