The XCAT World Championship season has finally come to its 2017 debut, and it will immediately feature a breathtaking sequence of races. The teams and boats have just arrived in China, in order to participate in a triple event: they will start in Zhengzhou this weekend, then moving to Weihai the week after, then again to Xiamen the week after that, for a spectacular back-to-back which will put at stake a big amount of Championship points. The season will then get to the grand finale in Dubai in the end of November.
With UIM (World Powerboating Federation) in the role of promoter, the 2017 Championship can count on the cooperation of the Chinese organizer Baia Blu d’Oriente for the first three stages: on October 13th the boats will get in the water in Zhengzhou, in the Chinese province of Henan, with two races to be held on Saturday 14 and Sunday 15. On October 20 to 22 the circus will be in Weihai, Shangdong province, for race 3 and 4, then they will move to the far south, down to Xiamen in the Fujian region, for another two races during the weekend of October 27 to 29.
Now the drivers and the boats are in Zhengzhou ready to get into action for the first time in 2017. The circuit they will race on is quite narrow with tight turns, on the rather flat water of Long Hu (“Dragon Lake”): this will require lightning-fast reactions from the drivers and will make the competition really close.
The 2017 lineup can count on many skilled and expert drivers, with some new entries from other powerboating disciplines. First big news comes from the reigning Champions, the Emirati duo of Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi. While the latter is no longer in the cockpit, at least for the moment, the former is ready to defend the title along with Scott Williams from UK, with a completely new team and a new boat. The challenge will come from many competitors, first of all the UAE combo of Victory Team, who can count on the expertise of the most victorious staff. Then their “cousins” from Abu Dhabi, who demonstrated all their skills in 2016 and are now ready to fight for the final crown. But much expectations are also on the Swede crew of Swecat Racing, and on the new 222 Offshore who will carry the name of the local organizers Baia Blu d’Oriente. Two Italian teams, Al&Al and Fujairah Racing, are also willing to have their share of glory, while Australia, Russia, Spain and Kuwait have taken big steps up and changed their boats so much that they will represent serious candidates for the top positions.
Brett Luhrmann, who represents the drivers’ association, states: “For us there are many factors to be excited about, as this season we all have the new engines and some teams have new boats as well. In addition, the level of the drivers is higher and higher, so the competition will be very tough. We are eager to go in the water and start our engines”.
Riccardo la Cognata for UIM, here to be joined in the next days by president Raffaele Chiulli, places emphasis on some other peculiarities of the 2017 XCAT World Championship: “This year the Championship features many news, on different aspects. The environmental impact is the lowest possible, thanks to the adoption of modern green engines, while the safety reaches new levels with the introduction of brand new safety cockpits designed by the best engineers in the field. And, last but not least, the competition: we have here this weekend 12 boats representing so many Countries around the world”.