22 March, 2016 – With less than a month to go, the city of Fujairah is gearing up to host a blistering first round of the 2016 UIM XCAT World Series.
At the official launch of the event in Fujairah yesterday were World Professional Powerboating Association (WPPA) board member Essa Bin Kharbash and Sid Bensalah, WPPA Secretary General and UIM XCAT World Series Chief Officer as well as Mohammed Saeed Al Danhani, Fujairah International Marine Club (FIMC) Vice Chairman and General Director of Amiri Court of Fujairah, and Ahmed Ebrahim, Managing Director of FIMC.
14 teams from across the globe will converge on the Gulf of Oman for the opening race of what promises to be a sensational season with new, powerful, greener engines, new venues and plenty of excitement on the cards.
Keen to put in a good showing at the event from 7 to 8 April will be the Fujairah Team of Serafino Barlesi and Alessandro Barone. The boat may be driven by Italians, but they’re very much considered the home team after the Fujairah Marine Club, hosts of round one of the Series, announced their sponsorship of the boat.
“Fujairah wants to see us on the podium and winning, so do we of course… we wish,” said Barlesi, who is looking forward to the prospect of switching to the new four-stroke Mercury engines.
“The boats will be faster and more difficult to run. For the Fujairah race, we will count on my experience and also the communication and connection with Alex (Barone).
“We have lengthened the boat by two feet, from 30 to 32 feet and will just have two days to test before the race,” he added.
Challenging the Fujairah Team for top honours will no doubt be the two teams who battled it out for the overall Series title in 2015 – Victory Team’s XDubai-sponsored boat (Arif al Zaffain and Nadir bin Hendi) and Team Abu Dhabi (Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori). In the opening race last year, which provided plenty of drama with the toughest conditions of 2015, the Victory Team’s race was cut short when an engine caught fire. Plenty of teams dropped out of contention and it was the Abu Dhabi duo who prevailed to take the win.
But the Victory Team came back strong, and by the end of the year had climbed their way up to the familiar top spot.
Also looking to make their mark in the opening race of the season will be the likes of Six (Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini, who were third overall last season), Swecat (Erik Stark and Mikael Bengtsson), Videx (Alfredo Amato and Joakim Kumlin, winners in Dubai at the end of last year) and relative newcomers Gold Coast Australia (Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton) while T-Bone Station (Giovanni Carpitella and Luca Fendi) will be hoping to redeem themselves after a season plagued by mechanical problems and unfortunate premature finishes to their races.
The opening race of the season takes place at Fujairah International Marine Club from 7-8 April before the action moves to Dubai the following weekend. The XCAT carnival will then move on to Switzerland for the first time, where the Lugano GP takes place from 4-5 June.
Entry to the Fujairah event is free of charge for the general public.