VICTORY 3 WINS THE XCAT WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. THE FINAL, SPECTACULAR RACE OF THE SEASON GOES TO THEIR SIBLINGS OF VICTORY 33
The hopes of Australia break at lap 5. The race is like a knockout battle and only seven teams make it to the end, among 2-meter waves. The Italian duo of Fujairah Team is second, followed by Swecat Racing.
Dubai, 2 December 2017. In the National Day of the United Arab Emirates, the home team Victory has a lot to celebrate within the UIM XCAT World Championship. Their drivers Salem al Adidi and Eisa al Ali (boat 3) win the 2017 crown, while Gary Ballough and Ahmed al Hamli clinch the first spot in today’s race. But it’s not been easy at all, for neither of the crews.
The water west of Palm Jumeirah presented a substantial swell and waves up to two meters since the morning, so the course was modified and the long laps canceled. At the start, Al Wasl and Swecat engaged Victory 33 in a battle for the lead, with several overtakes and wake-crossings, all while jumping in the air at every other wave. In the back, Team Australia (Brett Luhrmann – Pål Virik Nilsen) from P8 had to find any possible way to catch up on Victory 3 (fourth on the grid) and overtake them, as a one-point gap to the opponents left no other choice. But a sudden failure at lap 5 put out all their hopes, even more disappointing as two days ago they were still the championship leaders. From that moment the Dubai Team needed just to finish the race safely, and they made it.
Meanwhile, in a sort of knockout tournament, Al Wasl was forced to retire, as were Caccia Engineering, Gasbeton and 222 Offshore. Behind Victory 33 and Swecat were Abu Dhabi and Fujairah Team. But beside the indisputable skills of all the drivers, the latter had a better setup, so a breathtaking recovery took the Italian duo up to third. And, were this not enough, they closed the gap on Swecat, finally being able to overtake them with one lap to go, and close the race on the second stage of the podium.
A solid performance came also from the Russian duo of New Star Racing, with the best result of the season (5th) and from the Kuwaiti team Raheeb, who closed 7th.
Victory 3 closed in P6, but their satisfaction is in winning the 2017 World Championship after a battle which lasted until the last race. Team Australia feel the bitter taste of having lost the leadership and the title in one weekend, but with the pride of having been able to fight and almost beat the team who won the XCAT titles five years in a row.
Gary Ballough says: “I can’t stress enough how important it is the work of the team. They set up a great boat, they did an amazing job all the time. And my mate Ahmed al Hameli was perfect: I was 100% confident of that since the first day. As for the race, it was amazing to fight with Swecat for so long”.
Serafino Barlesi, behind a genuine smile, is proud to underline some facts: “We missed the moment of the start, so at the first buoy we were last. That’s where our recovery started. The key was to administer, not to push too much. In these conditions it pays back. So in the end we were able to overtake even boats which normally perform very good in rough sea”.
Erik Stark explains that “It’s not dangerous to race with these waves, but sure it’s tiring: the boat was never going straight, because of the jumps and the waves, so it was a constant struggle. I can’t say my body is 100% now…but it was fun”.
Now a well-deserved pause for the XCATs, but the UIM is already working with the organizers both in the role of World Powerboating Federation and of promoter of the Championship. The UIM President Dr. Raffaele Chiulli hints at the fact that there will be new venues, and everybody’s sure that 2018 will be another amazing year for this sport.