The Blue Roo behind them consolidate their leadership in the ranking, especially after cancellation of race 6
It had to happen: after four races and just one podium, the 2016 XCAT World Champions Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi win their first race of the 2017 season. Their amazing comeback from P8 at the start is only hindered by the cancellation of the sixth race the following day, due to strong wind and rough sea.
The UIM XCAT World Championship ends three non-stop weeks of racing in China, and packs everything to move to UAE for the season’s finale.
Let’s read what happened in stage 3 in Xiamen by the report of our correspondant Emanuele Ferraris di Celle.
October 28th, 2017
It is definitely the performance of the season, at least so far, for the reigning champions Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi, who on their new boat Al Wasl clinch the first position in race One of the UIM XCAT World Championship Xiamen Grand Prix. At the fifth race of 2017, and having conquered just one third spot as best result, the Emirati duo are finally back to winning a race: an incredible performance for them, as they started from eighth spot in the grid and had to climb their way back to the top little by little.
Behind them, the second place goes to Brett Luhrmann and Pål Virik Nilsen of Team Australia, who are able to maintain the position they had at the start despite losing one engine trim in the middle of the race. Not a win, but an important chance to bank good points and extend their advantage over the direct competitors in the overall ranking, Victory Team, who finished fourth.
To complete the top three, another come back for Erik Stark and Mikael Bengtsson of Swecat who get back on the podium for the first time this season.
The race has been full of twists, already from the start when Al&Al – Caccia Engineering in P1 lost the leadership to Victory right at the second buoy. Being in front, Salem al Adidi and Eisa al Ali had to make the most of the clear water until they received the bad news from race direction: they got a penalty (one extra long lap) for having taken the wrong lane at the start.
So it was the time of The Blue Roo for being under the spotlight, but after nine laps a failure from the left engine trim forced them to slow down. Meanwhile, thanks to a perfect strategy, Bin Hendi and Al Zaffein on Al Wasl were gaining precious positions, while Amato and Martignoni on Caccia Engineering could still strive for a top-three finish. But here it came another shock: the latter hit a buoy and were inflicted an extra long lap. The Italian duo decided to keep on with their race, but when they crossed the finish line in third place the race direction couldn’t help giving them a 60 second penalty which took them down to P6.
So a great performance, some mistakes by the competitors, and a perfect strategy were the ingredients of the recipe that took the 2016 XCAT World Champions back to a win.
Behind Al Wasl, The Blue Roo and Swecat, Victory is not satisfied with their fourth spot which means losing 8 points to Team Australia, while a solid race from Giovanni Carpitella and Joakim Kumlin on “Mephire Xiamen” boat means they are now fourth in the overall ranking.
The biggest disappointment of the day is for Team Abu Dhabi, sixth in qualifying and just seventh at the end of the race. Fujairah Team, New Star, Lady Spain and Raheeb complete the pack, still struggling to find the key factor to improve their performance despite the undeniable skills of their drivers.
October 29th 2017
Wind blowing at 15 knots since the morning, with gusts over 30, and waves increasing to and over one meter: that’s what the drivers would have had to face this afternoon. So, after two laps behind the pace Cat to check the course, and having evaluated the feedback from all the people involved, race 2 of the UIM XCAT World Championship was canceled by the UIM Officials.
Before the race the course had been changed: away the further buoys, no long laps, and a simplified circuit closer to the shore. But that didn’t seem to be enough: the start boat went out to set the pace and align the Cats behind before the green flag, and even at 30 knots it was clear that the waves were too high to have a safe race. Still they had two consecutive laps, followed by all the boats, in order to collect all the information for a good decision. Then they gave red flag, and after some minutes the official decision of not having the race was taken.
All the drivers agreed with the decision, reminding that safety is not an option and that they have much at stake whenever they race. So, giving this for granted, the considerations moved to the overall championship: and while Team Australia (Brett Luhrmann and Pal Virik Nilsen on The Blue Roo) can be happy to see the ranking freezed, as they lead it, some others are disappointed for having missed an opportunity to reduce the gap to the top or climbing up positions. Among these, there is for sure the duo on “Al Wasl”, Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi from UAE, who are really experts in offshore racing and were today starting from the first spot. But as we said they fully agreed with the decision. Slightly against the grain is Alfredo Amato, Team Manager of Al&Al – Caccia Engineering and in the cockpit with Daniele Martignoni: he smiles while saying how this kind of chopped sea is similar to the one in the gulf of Naples, where he is from, adding that it would have been nice to have the race and feel like being at home.
So, no news for the championship, with the Australians from the Blue Roo still in the lead followed by Victory Team and Abu Dhabi.
The news is that the boats, spare parts, pontoons and stuff are being packed, ready to leave China after three amazing weeks and three back-to-back events: the Cats are off to the United Arab Emirates, where they wrote so many great pages. The appointment is fixed for November 30th to December 2nd for the UIM XCAT Dubai Grand Prix.