24 November 2015 – It’s taken a mammoth 24-hour a day effort, but all the boats that took a hammering in last Saturday’s Dubai GP should be ready to take the start line for the sixth and final round of the UIM XCAT World Series in Abu Dhabi this weekend.
Seven of the 14 boats that started last weekend’s race failed to finish and one, Gold Coast Australia, didn’t even make it to the start after taking on water and almost sinking during the second official practice on the day of the race.
But four days later, all the boats should be in Abu Dhabi and ready to race at the event which is free of charge to the general public. The massive repairs to the transom of Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton’s Gold Coast Australia boat should be completed late on Tuesday afternoon or evening with the boat scheduled to arrive in the UAE capital on Wednesday morning, ready for the first official practice.
Meanwhile, the Six boat of Matteo Nicolini and Tomaso Polli, which took a spectacular underwater dive and damaged the bottom of the boat when the duo were leading the race on Saturday, is also due in Abu Dhabi on Wednesday morning but may miss the first practice.
“They have fixed the hole and have worked on an area of about 150cm on the left sponson,” explained Nicolini. “First they had to fix this. They have finished that but now they have to finish the exterior parts of the boat.
“We should be in Abu Dhabi tomorrow [Wednesday] morning and once there we will fix the last parts – the engine mounts, the brackets etc. We will probably skip the first official practice and be in the water for the first time on Thursday,” added the Italian.
“We are very happy that we will be ready on time. This was only possible because it happened in Dubai and the Victory Team could do the repairs. I was quite surprised by how quickly they got this fixed.”
While the repairs may have added stress to the build-up to the Abu Dhabi race, there could be some unforeseen benefits to the drama.
“The boat could actually be even better than before because during the repair we found some minor issues which we fixed and also replaced some minor electrical faults so we are confident,” explained Nicolini, who with Polli is currently in third place in the overall Series standings.
Meanwhile, the Swecat team of Erik Stark and Mikael Bengtsson are also confident of taking the water on Wednesday. Their heartbreaking end to the Dubai GP was brought about by engine failure on the last lap – while they were in second place. The Swecat engines and hull have been repaired in Abu Dhabi and they should be in the pits at Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) on Wednesday morning.
The Swecat team are currently fourth in the overall Series standings but all eyes will be on the fascinating showdown between the top two teams gunning for ultimate glory – XDubai (Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi) who are top with 139 points and the home side – Abu Dhabi Team (Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori) who are just one point behind on 138.
Official practice takes place from 2-3pm on Wednesday with a once-off Match Race (two boats pitted against each other over long and short laps) taking place from 3.30-4.30pm in celebration of UAE National Sports Day.
The all-important race for Pole Position takes place from 11am-12.30pm on Thursday with the head-to-head Dubai Duty Free Speed Cat Run from 3.30-4.30pm. The main race, the Abu Dhabi GP, is scheduled for 3.30pm on Friday and entry for the entire weekend’s festivities is free of charge for the general public.