Earlier today, Qatar Cup offshore racing teams took full advantage of their practice and testing time on the Doha Bay course in advance of the Pole Position qualifying rounds, which begin this afternoon. Some of the boats that came from the United States have not seen much action since November 2014, so there was plenty of work to be done.
Running the Smart Marine cat, for example, outboard-cat racing veterans Gary Ballough and Grant Bruggemann opted to raise their outboard engines after their first lap on the course. The Super Vee class team of Steve Curtis and Joe Sgro said they are “mostly happy” with the setup of their 43-foot-long Outerlimits running twin 975-hp engines. (When I caught up with Sgro and Curtis, their fellow Super Vee-class competitors Billy Glueck and Brett Furshman in the Twisted Metal Fountain were still on the course.
“I’ve spoken to a lot of the racers,” said Marc Granet, the Miss GEICO driver who is reporting for speedonthewater.com during the Qatar Cup. “Now that it is essentially race day, the nerves are gone and everyone is just excited to be here. These guys have become a family in a matter of a day and half—that bond that they’re on the same adventure has begun to form.
“In talking to them, I’m hearing that the course is much bigger than they thought,” he continued. “It’s much more challenging, too. There are sharp left-hand turns, sweeping right-hand turns and long straights. I think the fast laps during pole position qualifying will be in the mid-two-minute to three-minute range. You need top end, but there are some sharp turns that will require to have a bit of acceleration. Water conditions are essentially flat with cool winds of about 12 mph blowing off the Persian Gulf—absolutely perfect flat-water racing conditions.”
The most current schedule has the Qatar Cat Lite teams starting Pole Position qualifying from 2 p.m. to 3 p.m. and the Supercat and Super Vee teams qualifying from 3 p.m. to 4 p.m.
Photo courtesy/copyright Pete Boden/Shoot 2 Thrill Pix