Although the 2021 Union Internationale Motonautique XCAT World Championship season was abbreviated and concise with back-to-back Grand Prix events in the United Arab Emirates during the last two weeks, the competition was exciting, close and, at times, tense. Following the conclusion of the Dubai Grand Prix races on Friday and Saturday, Dubai Police teammates Arif Al Zaffain and Nadir Bin Hendi, who finished first on Friday and second on Saturday, earned the UIM XCAT World Championship on their home waters in front of the Dubai International Marine Club.
After two rounds of Grand Prix races in back-to-back weeks, the Dubai Police team earned the 2021 UIM XCAT World Championship. Photos courtesy XCAT World Championship
The team’s world title did not come easy as the two Team Abu Dhabi boats gave it a good run. In fact, Abu Dhabi 5 teammates Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori concluded the season on a high note by winning the season’s final race to finish second overall, 13 points behind Dubai Police, which racked up 156 points to the Abu Dhabi 5 team’s 143 points. The Abu Dhabi 4 team of Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori were third overall with 109 points, while Six teammates Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini were fourth with 92 points and the Victory Team’s Erik Stark and Mohamed Alyammahi finished fifth overall with 82 points.
Building off of the lead it held after the three races in Fujairah, the Dubai Police team completed a strong race on Friday by overcoming the hard-charging Abu Dhabi 4 team that earned the pole position a day earlier. The victory all but solidified the championship barring a dramatic and unforeseen climax on Saturday.
“We are happy to win back at home,” Bin Hendi said. “It was a tough race with fierce competition. We got second place in pole position, but we kept the gap very close on boat number five.”
The abbreviated 2021 XCAT season has teams excited to get back on the racecourse in 2022.
Abu Dhabi 5 made a brave bid to keep its title hopes alive, leading from pole position for half of the 18 laps before Dubai Police powered their way into first place. Abu Dhabi 5 hung onto second place ahead of Abu Dhabi 4, which was followed by the fourth-place HPI Racing Team of Rosario Schiano Di Cola and G.S. Di Cola and the fifth-place Six team of Tomaso Polli and Matteo Nicolini.
Winning by 26 seconds, Al Zaffain and Bin Hendi carried an 18-point lead into Saturday afternoon’s season finale. But the day didn’t go as smooth as expected for the Dubai Police team when its boat’s steering hose broke while preparing to start the first of two laps. Loss of steering and oil spillage forced the teammates to return to the pontoon for the problem to be fixed, and after returning to the course they clocked the fastest lap.
As repairs are not permitted once a session begins, the problem led to an inevitable disqualification, dropping Dubai Police to the back of the 12-boat race starting lineup, as Abu Dhabi 5 secured pole position.
Rashed Al Tayer and Majed Al Mansoori earned a victory in Abu Dhabi 5 on Saturday. Photo courtesy Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club
Knowing a fifth-place finish would still be enough to win the title and that a single mistake could see it snatched away, Al Zaffain and Bin Hendi held their nerve, and gradually climbed through the field to take second place, 18 seconds behind Abu Dhabi 5’s Al Tayer and Al Mansoori.
“The race was very good for us,” Al Tayer said. “We started first, and saved the boat until the end, and we’re very happy with the win. We’re second in the world championship this time, but next year we want to go one better.”
Torrente and Faleh Al Mansoori—the 2018 world champions in Abu Dhabi 4—claimed the other podium place to secure third position in this year’s shortened XCAT World Championship. The HPI Racing Team finished fourth on the day with the Victory Team taking fifth.
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