x Abu Dhabi, UAE Friday 21 July 2017

Al Hamli has the Xcat factor

Ahmed Ali al Hamli is looking to carry the confidence of his triumph in the Dubai Wooden Powerboat Championship into the UIM XCat Middle East Powerboat Championship.

Competitors fight for position in the Dubai Wooden Powerboat Championship yesterday.
Competitors fight for position in the Dubai Wooden Powerboat Championship yesterday.

Ahmed Ali al Hamli is looking to carry the confidence of his triumph in the Dubai Wooden Powerboat Championship into the UIM XCat Middle East Powerboat Championship when he lines up his Abu Dhabi Racing Team's extreme catamaran for today's second race of the season. Al Hamli, who finished third in the first X-Cat race on Tuesday, warmed up for the second heat by cruising to victory in his Delma Marine, alongside Ahmed Ateeq al Qumzi, at the Dubai International Marine Club yesterday.

They finished ahead of Tuesday's winner Salim Fadhel al Hamli, who was in the Extreme Marine with Ahmed Hassan al Suwaidi, and the Al Fajar Marine of Khalifa Humaid bin Thaiban and Ahmed Humaid bin Thaiban. "I've gained so much experience driving the wooden powerboat that it's helped me with driving the X-Cat," said al Hamli. "I enjoy both the X-Cat and the wooden powerboat and I'm really pleased with our win. I hope I can improve on my placing in the X-Cat heat two."

Salem al Hamli and Rashid al Marri clinched the opening race after world champions Nader bin Hindi and Arif Saif Al Zafe'in had limped off at the first lap with a broken gear in their Fazza 3. The second Victory Team boat, Fazza 33, also failed to complete the race because of an engine problem. With the champions out of the way, the Extreme Marine finished ahead of the Lux Media Offshore, piloted by Michael Karsenti and Mike Seebold, and the Abu Dhabi Racing Team 1.

The Fazza fleet, however, are looking to bounce back after the disappointments in the first race. "Tuesday wasn't exactly the start to the championship we wanted," said reigning Class 1 and Class 3 World Champion Bin Hendi after setting the sixth fastest time in testing (2min 58.63secs) yesterday. "But it just goes to show that everything has to be spot on to win in this sport. We've done very well recently in both Class 1 and Class 3 World Championship races, but the X-Cats event is a tough competition and we'll need everything to be working perfectly if we are to do well."

Fazza, 33, with Talib al Sayed and Abdullah al Mehairbi on board, were quicker than their Victory teammates in testing, posting 2min 57.62secs, the fifth-fastest time.The Lux Media Offshore 96 were quickest in testing yesterday with the French-American duo of Michel Karsenti and Mike Seebold averaging 155.3 kph and clocking a top lap time of 2min 51.28secs, more than two seconds quicker than Mohamad Al Rais and Mohamad Al Nasser in Qatar 94 (2min 53.55secs). The Extreme Marine struggled to complete a lap in testing yesterday, but they will start the race from pole position by virtue of their win on Tuesday, while the two Fazzas will be at the rear of the pack.

"It's not ideal, but if we've managed to get the boat, engine and props right then it will be up to us to get by the guys in front," said al Zafeen. "X-Cats is a great format and if all 21 boats make it to the start then I am sure the spectators will be in for a great race." * Compiled by Ahmed Rizvi, with agency Heat two, 12.30pm start at Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) today