The bummer from down under. And the first XCAT race goes to Dubai Police

A collision in the first lap between Maritimo and Team Australia causes both of them to retire, with a bad flipover for the former. Arif al Zaffein and Nadir bin Hendi win the race, 222 Offshore is second and Swecat third.

Race 1 in Fujariah, first stage of 2018 UIM XCAT World Championship, seems to be a matter of nerves from the very beginning. The starting procedure is repeated three times, as the boats and drivers are not able to maintain the correct order while slowly moving: it’s a symptom of big tension and eagerness to push the throttles and see who’s faster. Come the green flag, and the first buoy sees a big crash: Maritimo (Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton) and Team Australia (Pål Virik Nilsen and Jan Trigve Braaten) collide, and while the latter only spins, the former barrel-rolls at a rather high speed. Red flag comes in seconds. Then, the immediate intervention from the rescue team of Bergamo Scuba Angels helps Ross to get out of the cockpit (Tom is out first, by himself). The four drivers are ok, only Ross Willaton, because of the time spent underwater, needs a further check in the hospital.
But their boat is not ok at all: huge damage to the deck, with a hole on the port side, and loads of salty water inside the engines and onto the electronic wiring, means the event is over for them.

Another start and Dubai Police takes a comfortable lead, while 222 Offshore (Giovanni Carpitella and Darren Nicholson) is second. For boat number 10, who actually had been able to clinch the second position even at the previous start, overtaking the two Aussie teams, there is nothing to do to catch up with Al Zaffein and Bin Hendi. So as there is nothing to do for the boats behind them to try and get the second spot. While the first two boats continue their race, behind them the “best of the rest” is Swecat of Mikael Bengtsoon and Erik Stark, who push as much as they can and are able to overtake Abu Dhabi 4 and Fujairah (Abu Dhabi 5 pays a penalty lap and drops down to the 7th spot). A solid race also for Newstar, as Dmitry Vandishev and Mikhail Kitashev are able to step up from P9 and close in P5.

And while during the night Team Australia will do their best to fix the boat, the other teams need to keep their concentration and get ready for tomorrow’s race (4pm local time, 2pm CET), maybe even trying to cool down a bit the tension as the season is still long.

Read here about the pole position

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