Although the roster of offshore racing teams from the United States heading to Doha, Qatar, for the Qatar Cup Feb. 3-7 won’t be announced until Dec. 8, this morning’s press release from the Qatar Marine Sports Federation offers some insight to the racing classes for the event. According to the release, the classes coming from the States are Super Cat, Super Vee Light, Super Vee. The U.S. teams competing will be sanctioned under the American Power Boat Association, the domestic arm of the Union Internationale Motonautique, powerboat racing’s international sanctioning body.
“Super Cats—with around 800 hp (per each of their two engines)—is the main class we are bringing over,” said Steve Curtis, the interim president of the newly formed Offshore Powerboat Grand Prix series and the throttleman and racing partner of Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, the president of the QMSF, in the release. “But we also have the V hulls and we will try a new handicap system that is used in sailing to have all the boats on the course at the same time.
“This has never been done before,” Curtis continued. “Basically there will be two laps on the course—the fastest boats may do 10 of the longer laps and the smaller boats may do 10 of the shorter ones. A handicap will be determined to put the racing on a level playing field and they will use the same checkered flag. This format was used before in a series called Offshore 2000 in the 1990s and was very successful.”
Called X-Cat overseas and Stock class in the U.S., twin outboard engine-powered canopied catamarans will compete in the “Cat Light” class (not to be confused with the retired Cat Light category that tapped twin 525-hp Mercury Racing engines for specified power), according to Curtis.
“We hope to have 8 to 10 boats competing (in the Cat Light category),” said Curtis. “Mohammed Al-Nasser (Qatar’s X-Cat driver) has also been invited, but the engine rules are slightly different so he will need to do some work with his engines.”
In addition to the previously noted classes, the Qatar Cup will include another outboard catamaran class with teams from Qatar and Turkey, as well as personal watercraft racing. One of the primary goals of the event is to provide a full week of powerboat racing action, according to the release.
“Everyone knows that we wanted to expand the power boating and we wanted to do it the right way and grow with it as much as we can,” said Sheikh Hassan during last weekend’s Oryx Cup (read the story) in Doha. “The Qatar Cup idea was born last year, but we couldn’t get the American teams here last time.
“This time the formula is completely different and we have signed with a number of teams who will come here in February,” he continued. “This will be a stand-alone championship approved by the UIM and APBA. This will create bigger recognition, both here and abroad, and we are confident it will grow. It is also a perfect opportunity for our up-and-coming racers in Qatar to compete alongside international rivals.
“If things look good for 2016—with a new five-race series in the United States—we could maybe do the same thing as we do with H1 and the Oryx Cup, whereby you accumulate points all year and have the final race in Qatar,” he added. “We could, perhaps, have a national championship and a Qatar Cup title at stake. It’s premature to go into details about this, but this could be the good aim for 2016 onward.”
Photo courtesy/copyright Qatar Marine Sports Federation