The first of three thrilling international power boat races in the space of four weeks takes centre stage off the Abu Dhabi Breakwater this weekend, when the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) hosts the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix, the final round of the UIM XCAT World Series from Wednesday (tomorrow) to Friday (November 18).
Organised by the Dubai-based WPPA in conjunction with staff at the ADIMSC, the three-day event draws the curtain on a season of XCAT racing that started in Fujairah and Dubai, went on to Lugano in Switzerland in the summer and returns to Abu Dhabi for its conclusion.
Twelve boats and 24 drivers from nine nations will battle it out in Friday afternoon’s race, although the cancellation of a scheduled race in Seoul in the autumn means that the Victory Team crew of Arif Al-Zafeen and Nadir Bin Hendi cannot be caught in the overall championship standings.
That has opened the door for a very open race with the runners-up spot in the championship still to be decided and the crew of Team Abu Dhabi 5 hoping to finish their 2016 XCAT programme in style with a victory on home waters.
Team Abu Dhabi 5 will be crewed by the experienced offshore racing duo of Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori.
Al-Tayer told me today;
We looked at many set-ups during our test before the boat came from Italy and we needed to test on our home waters as well.
I got a good set-up for this race and we have a good speed. I hope we will see Team Abu Dhabi at the front.
I went out this morning for a short time.
We are fifth in the championship, the weather forecast is perfect and the target is a good result here to try and get the second place. We are aiming for that.
With the world title already in the bag, the Dubai-based Victory Team will use the race to further develop the Generation 2 XCAT, which has been specially commissioned to adapt to the new four-stroke engine regulations.
The fight for the runner-up spot in the championship should be fascinating.
The Gold Coast Australia crew of Tom-Barry Cotter and Ross Willaton will be hoping to steal a march on Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsson and Erik Stark.
A mere eight points separate the two boats. Dubai 33’s Salem Al-Adidi and Eisa Al-Ali hold fourth position in the overall standings – nine points behind the Australians – and Team Abu Dhabi 5 is a further six points adrift in fifth place, meaning Al-Tayer and Al-Mansoori are still well placed to challenge for second position.
The Abu Dhabi season finale also features the first XCAT appearance of the Russian duo of Mikhail Kitashev and Dmitry Vandyshev in New Star 9. The pair have tackled a couple of European endurance races this season as rivals to Team Abu Dhabi and showed an impressive turn of speed. Vandyshev also claimed victory for Team Russia in this year’s UIM Nations Cup in Shanghai.
They will use a boat built by the Victory Team in Jebel Ali.
The entry list also highlights the return to offshore action for former Team Abu Dhabi F1 H2O driver Ahmed Al-Hameli, alongside Giovanni Carpitella in T-Bone Station.
The Emirati represented the ADIMSC for several seasons and is sure to feature next month as well when the club hosts the penultimate round of the UIM F1 H2O World Championship.
Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) commented on the forthcoming Event;
On behalf of everyone connected with the ADIMSC, I extend a warm welcome to our visiting teams, officials, spectators and members of the media and we look forward to hosting a safe and exciting finale to the 2016 XCAT season here on the Abu Dhabi Breakwater.
We are delighted to receive such a strong international entry, with drivers attending the race from as far afield as Australia, Scandinavia and the USA.
The majority of the boats, including the Australian, Dubai, Team Abu Dhabi and Swedish crews, took advantage of cranage facilities and an open racecourse and took to the water on Tuesday morning for a free practice session to acclimatise to the course in quite breezy conditions.
The course by the Breakwater and outside LuLu Island was also available later in the morning when the wind subsided, although Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori had benefited from a test session on the Corniche last Saturday as well.
Spectators and racing enthusiasts are welcome to attend each of the days action and there will be a food court, entertainment for children and a traditional display of Arab tents to accompany the racing, which gets underway with the official practice session from 15.45hrs on Wednesday afternoon.
2016 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix – entry list (unofficial)
2. Swecat Racing – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE)/Erik Stark (SWE)
3. Victory Team – Arif Saif Al-Zafeen (UAE)/Nadir Bin Hendi (UAE)
5. Team Abu Dhabi – Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE)/Rashed Al-Tayer (UAE)
9. New Star – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS)/Dmitry Vandyshev (RUS)
8. The Blue Rod – Brett Luhrmann (AUS)/Pal-Virik Nilsen (NOR)
10. T-Bone Station – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA)/Ahmed Al-Hameli (UAE)
11. Gold Coast Australia – Tom Barry-Cotter (AUS)/Ross Willaton (AUS)
17. Raheeb – Abdullatif Al-Omani (KWT)/Khaled Burabee (KWT)
20. Fujairah Team – Serafino Barlesi (ITA)/Alessandro Barone (ITA)
33. Dubai – Salem Al-Adidi (UAE)/Eisa Al-Ali (UAE)
48. Lady Spain – Joakim Kumlin (SWE)/Jay Price (USA)
96. Yacht – Saul Bubacco (ITA)/Francois Pinelli (FRA)
2016 UIM XCAT World Series – positions after round 3:
1. Victory Team 129 pts
2. Gold Coast Australia 79 pts
3. Swecat Racing 71 pts
4. Dubai 70 pts
5. Team Abu Dhabi 5 64 pts
6. Carpisa Yamanay 49 pts
7. T-Bone Station 43 pts
8. Team Australia 35 pts
9. Fujairah Team 28 pts
10. Six 25 pts
11. Lady Spain 17 pts
11. Spirit of France 17 pts
13. Raheeb 12 pts
14. Team Abu Dhabi 4 8 pts
Timetable of events
Wednesday, November 16
09.30-11.30 Technical scrutineering
15.45-17.30 Official practice
Thursday, November 17
11.00-12.30 Emaar Pole Position
15.30-16.30 Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run
Friday, November 18
10.00-11.00 Official practice
15.30 Abu Dhabi Grand Prix