The 2018 XCAT Season takes off from the Emirates for the first event
he first event will start in Fujairah, UAE, on Wednesday 11th of April, with new boats, new teams, and many exciting features that are going to build up a thrilling season.
It’s time to fire the Mercury engines for the drivers and teams of the 2018 UIM XCAT World Championship, which is promoted for the second year by the World Powerboating Federation, UIM. The first event of the year started with a press conference at Fujairah International Marine Club, held under the aegis of H.H. Sheikh Saif Bin Hamad Bin Saif Al Sharqui, and hosted by the FIMC Director Ahmed Ebraheim Mohamed al Hablooshi and the UIM Head of President Office Riccardo la Cognata, to represent UIM President Raffaele Chiulli.
All the teams are currently in Fujairah, on the Eastern coast of UAE, ready to get in the water and to finally measure their values, after months of working and testing. The Fujairah course in the past has proven very challenging and will be a further element of uncertainty for everybody.
The withdrawal from the Championship of the reigning champions of Victory Team leaves a space that many teams are eager to fulfill.
First of all, Team Australia, second by just a few points in 2017, who have made big investments and have entered the 2018 season with a larger crew, a modified boat and especially a new driver in the cockpit, as Jan Trygve Braaten replaces the team owner Brett Luhrmann in the helmsman seat.
Then Team Abu Dhabi, who not only got a brand new boat built by MTI – Randy Scism in USA, but will also add a second line up, to compete with two catamarans and four drivers.
The expectations are also high on the 2013-to-2016 World Champions Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi, who started again from scratch last year building up a new team, and who were still able to clinch two first places in the season. For this year their boat’s livery is definitely unusual, as it carries the name and logo of Dubai Police and the coveted number 3.Another big news comes from Swecat Racing, as the Swedes, still Erik Stark and Mikael Bengtsson in the cockpit, have now a new team manager: Josephine Due-boje is not only the first woman in this position, but also the youngest team manager ever at just 22. She is already experienced in offshore racing and will be surrounded by a crew of professionals keen to get their first win in XCAT.
The news are not over: the Aussie Tom Barry-Cotter gets back to the Championship with a brand new boat built by his Company Maritimo, boat that he will share with fellow mate Ross Willaton.
And, the young Rosario Schiano will join Francois Pinelli on Spirit of France to further lower the average age of the XCAT line up.
Then many extremely talented drivers, with long experience in this sport, are there to fight for the top spots: Carpitella and Nicholson on 222 Offshore, Barlesi and Barone of Fujairah Racing Team, Amato and Kumlin on Al&Al. And it will be time for harvesting, after many efforts and some bad luck in the last seasons, for teams such as Newstar Racing, Lady Spain, and Kuwait (former Raheeb).
The catamarans will touch the water on Wednesday at 10 am (8 am CET) for the first free practice session. It will be fundamental for the teams to understand the performance of their boats and find a good setup as soon as possible, as the qualifying session is straight after, at 14:00 the same day. In the previous years, racing in Fujairah was never a walk in the park: strong wind and unpredictable swells have occurred many times, triggering 2-meter waves and causing many twists: among the many, we recall in 2015 the Fazza boat whose engine got on fire while they were leading the race, or the Westerlund boat crash in 2014, or again the collision between Australia and Abu Dhabi in 2016 causing a flip-over for the formers.
So, with many news in teams and line-ups, an unpredictable water where so much has happened in the past, and the will to fill the empty space left by the 2017 champions, there will be much to get excited for in the next three days, as the UIM XCAT World Championship is ready to take off.
Here the entry list of the first 2018 XCAT event:
(Boat n. – Name – Driver – Driver – Team Country)
#2 – Swecat Racing – Mikael Bengtsson (SWE) – Erik Stark (SWE) – SWE
#3 – Dubai Police – Arif al Zaffein (UAE) – Nadir bin Hendi (UAE) – UAE
#4 – Abu Dhabi – Shaun Torrente (USA) – Faleh al Mansoori (UAE) – UAE
#5 – Abu Dhabi – Rashed al Tayer (UAE) – Majed al Mansoori (UAE) – UAE
#8 – Team Australia – Pål Virik Nilsen (NOR) – Jan Trygve Braaten (NOR) – AUS/NOR
#9 – Newstar Racing – Mikhail Kitashev (RUS) – Dmitry Vandishev (RUS) – RUS
#10 – 222 Offshore – Giovanni Carpitella (ITA) – Darren Nicholson (AUS) – ITA/AUS
#12 – Maritimo – Tom Barry Cotter (AUS) – Ross Willaton (AUS) – AUS
#17 – Kuwait – Abdullatef al Omani (KUW) – Moustafa al Dashti (KUW) – KUW
#20 – Fujairah Racing – Serafino Barlesi (ITA) – Alessandro Barone (ITA) – ITA
#22 – Al&Al / Ribot – Alfredo Amato (ITA) – Joakim Kumlin (ITA) – ITA
#46 – Altman Marine/Lady Spain – Diego Testa (ITA) – Andrea Comello (ITA) – ESP
#96 – CRB Offshore /HPI – Francois Pinelli (FRA) – Rosario Schiano (ITA) – FRA