IT’S THE LAST WEEKEND OF RACING FOR XCATS, IN THE WATERS OF DUBAI, WITH THE WORLD TITLE AT STAKE. SOME NEW ENTRIES ADD TO THE LINE-UP, WHILE THE FIRST PRACTICE SESSION SAYS AL WASL IS THE FASTEST
The boats went in the water today off Palm Jumeirah, on a race course which combines high speed and tricky turns. Within a line-up of 13 teams, with some new entries and some returns, Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi were the quickest.
Dubai, 30 November 2017. Finally the last racing weekend has started for the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship: it’s the Dubai Grand Prix, organized in cooperation with Dubai International Marine Club and Dubai Sports Council. With two races to be held in two days and 70 points at stake, there’s still six teams eligible for the 2017 crown.
The event sees the participation of two more teams, of course with the perspective of racing next year. Victory debuts their second boat, Victory 33, with Gary Ballough from USA and Ahmed al Hameli from Abu Dhabi. Although the latter is from the UAE, it is one of the first times that a boat from the Dubai-based team is not driven by local pilots. Both Gary and Ahmed have a long experience, in offshore and inshore, and despite this being their first time together, both have raced in XCAT already. The key point for them will be to find the best understanding inside the cockpit.
Then boat 96, now named Gasbeton, comes back with the experienced Francois Pinelli at the throttle and Lorenzo Bacchi at the helm. Their Doug-Wright-built XCAT is the only one in the pack not manufactured by Victory boatyard (although they all differ one another in length and beam), so it will be interesting to reckon its behavior in Dubai waters.
Another return is for Giampaolo Montavoci, over 200 races in offshore disciplines, back to XCAT in the cockpit of Lady Spain. He will have to put all his experience at the service of a team that hasn’t shown yet all their potential.
A free practice session today made the 26 pilots get acquainted with the Dubai race course, in order to find the perfect setup and balance for their boats.
The circuit is a good combination of fast straights (the longest is 1.4 Km) and tricky turns, for a total of six changes of direction and 3.50 nautical miles, and it’s located on the west side of Palm Jumeirah, with the paddocks right on the crescent-shaped island surrounding the iconic complex.
As for today’s first practice, the 2016 XCAT champions Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi from Al Wasl were the best to interpret the course – despite a broken belt which stopped them in the middle of the session, followed closely by Abu Dhabi (Rashed al Tayer and Majeed al Masoori) and Team Australia (Brett Luhrmann and Pål Virik Nilsen). But the top five, including Russia’s Newstar Team and Italy/Australia’s 222 Offshore, are all within three seconds, so it will be interesting to seethe challenge for pole position.
Tomorrow the qualifying session will take place at 9:30 local time (6:30 CET), with race one scheduled for 14:30 (11:30 CET). Race 2, the very last of the 2017 UIM XCAT World Championship, will be on Saturday afternoon again at 14:30.