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“Racing is not just about adrenaline and speed. It is also about being safe and secure. It has been proved time and again that the best performing drivers and crews are also the safest,” safety expert Paul Hicks told participants at the seminar on Thursday. Hicks, a former competitor and boat-builder was joined by Bob Wartinger, Allesandro Tricoli and Joost Van Neuten who all delved into the realm of their specialised fields. Wartinger is president of the UIM Safety/Medical Commission; Van Neuten has been leading an international professional powerboat rescue team since 1992 and Tricoli is a lawyer specialised in maritime law. On the opening day of the seminar, Saeed Hareb, President, UAE Marine Sports Federation said that safety should be the top priority for teams and officials following the few incidents that have had a negative impact on the sport. “From memory I can recollect at least six drivers who have been close friends who had died on the water due to this safety aspect,” Hareb mentioned. “I don’t know if we could have avoided these incidents and saved these drivers. But what I do know is that we don’t want to lose any more friends in the future due to accidents on the water,” Hareb said. “It is difficult to put up with losses of our crew members. We need to be more safe inside the cockpit,” he urged. The two-day seminar, being held on the sidelines of the 20th Dubai International Boat Show in association with the UIM and the UAE Marine Sports Federation (UAEMSF), was opened by Ahmed Mohammed Bin Thani, Director of Board and Chairman of DIMC along with Saeed Hareb, President, UAEMSF and DIMC Board Members Ahmad Ebrahim and Huraiz Bin Huraiz, among others. The objective of the seminar was to promote safe racing through education, enforcement and use of technology. “All major countries such as the US, UK and Australia have issues related to safety and performance of boats. There will be incidents and accidents on the water, but our aim is to lower the consequences,” said Wartinger. Sid Bensalah, General Secretary, World Professional Powerboat Association (WPPA) noted that the loss of the two Victory Team drivers in the final round of the 2009 Class One season was instrumental in pushing forward for safety reforms. “We lost two great competitors, but we learnt a lot from that accident. Today so much of study has been carried out and our sport and the entire powerboating world has benefited from these studies,” Bensalah said.

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