The first event of the 2018 XCAT Championship will start in Fujairah, UAE, on Wednesday: new boats, new teams, and more will likely give us a nice powerboating show.
The 2018 UIM XCAT World Championship is well on its way: all the teams are currently in Fujairah, on the Eastern coast of UAE, ready to get in the water and to finally measure their values, after months of working and testing. The Fujairah course in the past has proven very challenging and will be a further element of uncertainty for everybody.
2018 XCAT season immediately blasts a huge news
The season starts with a shocking news: Victory Team, World Champions in the Series from 2013 to 2017, have suddenly decided to withdraw from the Championship and move to American powerboat racing. That leaves a space, the top one, that many teams are eager to fulfill.
First of all, Team Australia, second by just a few points in 2017, who have made big investments and have entered the 2018 season with a larger crew, a modified boat and especially a new driver in the cockpit, as Jan Trygve Braaten replaces the team owner Brett Luhrmann in the helmsman seat.
Then Team Abu Dhabi, who not only got a brand new boat built by MTI – Randy Scism in USA, but will also add a second line up, to compete with two catamarans and four drivers.
the qualifying session
will be on Wednesday
11 April at 14:30 local time.
It will be 12:30 in Europe
The expectations are high also on the 2013-to-2016 World Champions Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi, who started again from scratch last year building up a new team, and who were still able to clinch two first places in the season. For this year their boat’s livery is definitely unusual, as it carries the name and logo of Dubai Police and the coveted number 3.
Another big news comes from Swecat Racing, as the Swedes, still Erik Stark and Mikael Bengtsson in the cockpit, have now a new team manager: Josephine Due-boje is not only the first woman in this position, but also the youngest team manager ever at just 22. She is already experienced in offshore racing and will be surrounded by a crew of professionals keen to get their first win in XCAT.
And there’s more, both in the line-ups and in the rules. We’ll keep you posted in the following days.
The catamarans will touch the water on Wednesday at 10 am (8 am CET) for the first free practice session. It will be fundamental for the teams to understand the performance of their boats and find a good setup as soon as possible, as the qualifying session is straight after, at 14:30 the same day. In the previous years, racing in Fujairah was never a walk in the park: strong wind and unpredictable swells have occurred many times, triggering 2-meter waves and causing many twists: among the many, in 2015 Fazza’s engine got on fire while they were leading the race, while in 2016 the collision between Australia and Abu Dhabi caused a flip-over for the formers.
So, with many news in teams and line-ups, an unpredictable water, and the hunger to win after Victory left the biggest chance, there will be much to follow.
And, we hope powerboating has still bright days ahead, and not only with XCAT.
This is how the 2017 XCAT season had ended. Victory Team won, but not without much thrill.