Co-sanctioned by the Qatar Marine Sports Federation and the newly formed Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix Series under the Union Internationale Motonautique umbrella, the Qatar Cup reportedly has commitments from approximately 50 offshore racing teams for its two-race event Feb. 6-8 next year. Of those teams, according to Steve Curtis, the Spirit of Qatar offshore racing team’s United States representative and current president of the OPGP organization, 12 are from three classes are coming from the United States. In addition to a number of teams from the Middle East including the Spirit of Qatar 20 duo Qatari Ali Al-Neama and American Billy Moore, two teams from Australia and one from New Zealand will compete in the event.
Qatari driver Ali Al-Neama and American throttleman Billy Moore will run the Spirit of Qatar 20 catamaran in the upcoming Qatar Cup. Photo courtesy QMSF
Curtis said that the final roster of U.S.-based teams and their classes should be announced next week. The Qatar Marine Sports Federation is covering all raceboat and equipment shipping costs, as well providing show-up fees and financial assistance with team lodging and airfares.
“They have been doing this for years for H-1, F-1 and X-Cat teams,” Curtis said in telephone this afternoon. “The passion of Sheik Hassan (bin Jabor Al-Thani, the leader of the Spirit of Qatar team) for the sport is unrivaled. What he has done for powerboat racing is more than anyone else has done in the past 30 years.”
The current Qatar Cup plan includes one day of qualifying and two days of racing, much like the format weekend racing format currently used in UIM Class 1 competition.
Curtis said that he still plans to resign as OPGP president once its board of directors is in place and the selection and hiring of an executive director for the organization has been finalized. The 2015 OPGP series plan is to have five races—the Sarasota, Fla., venue has already committed—in 2015, all which will be in Florida. Curtis added that the remaining four race sites are in the process of being finalized, that interest among domestic offshore racers is high and that the series will have immediate and significant media exposure.
“There is a big national television deal about to be announced by OPGP,” he said. “I can’t say more than that, but it’s fantastic news for the series and fantastic news for the sport.”