One discerning moment that stood out in the history of the UIM XCAT World Powerboat Series is the agreement signed between the Dubai-based World Professional Powerboat Association (WPPA) and the UIM, the world governing body for powerboating, at the beginning of December.
With UIM President Dr. Raffaele Chiulli representing the world governing body and the WPPA endorsed by its new President His Excellency Saif Al Ketbi, the futuristic agreement was given its seal of approval by the two bodies with the sole aim of taking the sport forward.
Also gracing the occasion at the iconic Burj Al Arab was Dr. Saeed Hareb, the Founding President of the WPPA and President of the UAE Marine Sports Federation; Dr. Khalid Al Zahed, the WPPA Vice President; Mohammed Hareb, UIM Council Member and Arif Al Zafeen, Victory Team’s General Manager and world champion driver.
Dr. Raffaele rightly hailed the signing of the agreement as a “strategic moment” for the sport as it is bound to take powerboating a step forward.
Deliberations to have such an agreement in place had commenced during the UIM general assembly meeting that was held in Corfu, Greece. And with His Excellency Saif Al Ketbi and Dr. Saeed Hareb showing a lot of vision and involvement in laying out the finer aspects of the agreement, the two parties were in consonance while putting pen to paper.
To start with, the agreement ensures that the WPPA continues with its basic role of being the promoter of the highly-popular UIM XCAT World Series, while also paying adequate attention to the development of young drivers and taking powerboat safety to the next level over the next three years.
The XCAT World Series has in the meanwhile shown tremendous growth and progress with 14 boats represented by drivers from eight nations competing for the title.
The XCAT World Series has indeed had an amazing journey with organisers and promoters WPPA putting in a lot of hard work and a generous dose of enthusiasm to ensure its sustainability and growth.
The 2012 season took in five engrossing rounds that culminated with Fazza winning the world title with a show of true grit and sportsmanship at the final round held off the Fujairah International Marine Sports Club in the middle of April.
Pushed to the back of the grid following a penalty for a violation on the use of fuel, Arif Al Zafeen and Mohammed Al Marri proved their champion status with a blistering run that saw them claim victory.
Arif Al Zafeen and Mohammed Al Marri ended the season with a total of 1617 points to overtake early leaders Omar Danial of Switzerland and Gary Ballough of the USA in their boat “Mouawad” in second place with 1350 points while the Qatar Team of Mohammed Nasser and Hamad Jasim Mohammed was third overall with 1089 points.
Several factors have gone into making XCAT racing popular since its beginnings in 2006. There was a much-needed extensive period of assessment, discussion, organisation and finally the re-launch of the erstwhile Class III, 6-litre series to the present-day Extreme Catamaran Series Powerboat Championship or the shortened XCAT Series. Its first full calendar came about in 2008 with five roundsand this was followed by the next season with four rounds of racing followed by another five races during the season gone by.
Not only has this brand of powerboat racing found a stability as a new class, it has received tremendous support from the drivers and crew for its sheer spirit of competitiveness on the water.
In addition, team owners and drivers have realised that this brand of racing is comparatively cheap, affordable and exciting making it the perfect class to blend the high-octane Class 1 off-shore racing with the more sedate single-seater Formula One boats.
And then there is the backing and support that the XCAT Series has received wherever it has travelled: from Abu Dhabi to the eastern coast in Fujairah or to its home base in Dubai.
The XCAT World Powerboat Series had an ardent base of followers who have been keen to ensure the series succeeds and takes a logical step forward in its growth. In Abu Dhabi there has been Dr. Sheikh Sultan Bin Khalifa Al Nahyan, Adviser to the UAE President and President of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club; in Dubai there has been Sheikh Hamdan Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum, Crown Prince of Dubai and Chairman of the Dubai Sports Council along with his younger brother Sheikh Majid Bin Mohammed Bin Rashid Al Maktoum and in Fujairah there has been Sheikh Mohammed Bin Hamad Al Sharqi, Crown Prince of Fujairah, who have supported this brand of racing.
And now it is with this sort of support that the WPPA is bracing for a brand-new season over seven rounds starting at the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club on January 9-11 and the finale at the Dubai International Marine Club on December 12-14.
The establishment of the XCAT powerboat racing may not have a long history like the rest, but it has class and finesse: It is safe, reliable and infectious. The drivers love to race, the crew are happy doing their bit in maintaining the high standard of racing and competition, approachable, trust-worthy and most importantly, the safety aspects have always been at the forefront, making this brand of powerboat racing the best one can aspire for.