Weihai, October 22 2017. It’s another impressive day for Australia Team and their boat “The Blue Roo”, as Brett Luhrmann and Pål Virik Nilsen win also race two of the UIM XCAT World Championship Weihai Grand Prix. With the first place they got yesterday, they leap up to the top of the overall ranking.
Behind them it’s Victory Team, with Salem Al Adidi and Eisa al Ali to run a perfect race which takes them from the sixth spot on the grid up to second place. To complete the top three, it’s a comeback on the podium for the 2016 XCAT Champions Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi, on their new boat “Al Wasl”.
At the start, with slightly chopped sea and a rather strong wind from the land, the first gate was for “The Blue Roo”, “Weihai China” and Abu Dhabi, while Victory started in P6 behind Swecat Racing and Fujairah Team. But Al Adidi and Al Ali were in the right mood today, as their laps were among the fastest from the very beginning. Add to this a spin out from Swecat in front, and the perfect strategy from their team manager Mohammed al Marri which allowed them to race always in clear water, and Victory stepped up to third, starting a close battle with their former mates from “Al Wasl”. Still, Al Zaffein and Bin Hendi had to take their second and last long lap, and despite a massive series of fast laps they couldn’t make it and ended third by just one second. A good performance nevertheless, as they gained no less than four positions.
Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson on “Weihai China”, after a solid Race 1 which gave them the second step of the podium, had trouble today with the setup of the boat, which in the words of Carpitella was “as a kite in the wind”, meaning the difficulties they had in keeping it steady at high speed and in turns.
Abu Dhabi, first in the overall ranking after their third place yesterday, saw their leadership vanish in just 24 hours as they got a penalty for cutting a buoy today and finished fifth.
While Swecat is still struggling to fulfill their true potential, with another result in the middle of the pack, New Star Racing from Russia gain some 12 good points to state that they are on the right path to improve, two spots before the Kuwaiti team of Raheeb who are waiting for important parts to be delivered and mounted on their boat.
Major frustration is for the Italian Teams: while Fujairah Team finishes eight after the good P5 scored yesterday, Caccia Engineering can’t get the checkered flag as they literally lose one engine, with the mount broken and the motor sinking to the sea bottom.
Andrea Comello and Roberto Lo Piano, from Italy on the Iberian boat “Lady Spain”, take six well deserved points after a 48-hour work to replace their engines, broken in Friday’s flipover.
A confident Lars Graver, manager of the Australia Team, synthesizes the feeling of the Blue Roo’s crew in a sentence: “Are we now the team to beat? Absolutely!”
Salem al Adidi from Victory, states “You look at Barcelona Club, and even when some outstanding players leave, they are still on top”, referring to the departure of the world champions on one hand, and to the contribution of the whole staff to successful results on the other.
“We are all very experienced – says Nadir bin Hendi – “not just me and Arif (al Zaffein), but also the mechanics, the team manager, the whole crew. So, it was a matter of time but we knew we could get back to the podium soon”.
Now it’s time to pack everything and move again, with the UIM XCAT World Championship to be hosted in the Southern-Chinese city of Xiamen already next weekend.