27 November 2015 – The XDubai team of Nadir bin Hendi and Arif Al Zaffain wrapped up the 2015 UIM XCAT World Series with a masterclass in powerboat racing, leading the Abu Dhabi GP from start to finish to take the overall title for the fourth consecutive season.
Heading into the sixth and final race of the year, and starting in third position after a number of problems in Pole Position, Bin Hendi had admitted to a few butterflies, with the Abu Dhabi team of Rashed Al Tayer and Faleh Al Mansoori just five points behind them in the overall standings.
But the massively experienced defending Series champions mastered the rough conditions on the start lap to reach the first buoy, and the safety of the flat water, in first position.
The T-Bone Station team of Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson, who started in second spot, had come close to challenging them when taking a tight line into the first turn, but could just not edge ahead and stayed in second spot for the remainder of the race.
Al Zaffain explained there were a few nervous moments in the boat when he thought they were experiencing gear problems at the start.
“At the start we saw the Abu Dhabi Team doing a big jump and we didn’t want to do the same so I put my finger on the right engine trim,” he said.
“I used too much trim and thought I had a problem with the gear box and then Nadir reminded me: ‘Your finger, your finger on the trim!’ So we went down, but it was for this reason that we lost maybe two seconds and for this reason that T-Bone Station came so close to us.
“But then we pushed again and it was good to finish the race without any problems,” he added.
Bin Hendi said there was much elation in the boat once they crossed the finish and the successful defence of their title was secured.
“It was a feeling we can’t express. We screamed in the cockpit very loudly. We were so hungry for it. Thank God we got it,” he said.
Meanwhile, Carpitella explained that he knew beforehand the start would be vital. “We had to do everything we could at the start because the rest of the race was flat and we knew we couldn’t win it in those conditions,” he said. “Once we reached the flat water the race was over and then it wasn’t worth it to take any risks so we just aimed to keep our position in second.”
As for just missing out on an overall Series podium spot (they would have claimed third had they won Saturday’s race but eventually finished in fourth place) the Italian was not particularly concerned.
“I was just racing to win this race and wasn’t really thinking about third place in the Championship,” he said.
XDubai’s closest challenger in the Series, Abu Dhabi Team, whose only race win of the season came in the opening round in Fujairah, eventually finished in third place in Saturday’s race and settled for second spot overall in the Series.
The Italian duo of Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini in Six held on to third spot overall in the Series despite a disappointing 12th place finish on Saturday after losing power in one of the engines. Mathematically the pair could still have claimed top spot in the championship but it was not their day.
“One of the engines started to not give 100 per cent performance. The boat was going slowly and the last three laps we were just going down so our goal then was just to finish to get the points for third place overall and we managed to finish,” he explained.
The Dubai team of Salem Al Adidi and Eisa Al Ali, who started in Pole Position in Saturday’s race, had a horrible start and were well back by the first turn but managed to recover to finish in third spot.
XCAT racing will take a short break now as the 2016 season kicks off in March with some exciting new venues on the cards. The official 2016 calendar will be announced in the coming weeks.