WHO WON THE 33RD U.I.M. F1H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP POWERBOAT RACING AT SHARJAH, U.A.E. ?
This blog is about the 33rd edition of F1H2O UIM World Championship Powerboat racing. I attended it in Sharjah as a media delegate in 2017.
THE QUALIFYING ROUNDS OF U.I.M. F1H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
Me and my other travel blogger friends arrived at the makeshift stadium, on the eve of F1H2O UIM World Championship Powerboat racing. As the racers whizzed past at a jet set speed, we got the first taste of the championship.
The magnitude of the championship dawned upon me on the next day when crowds spilled on the road, their collective murmurs drowned by zealous commentators and every inch space of the stadium was filled with sports enthusiasts. The setting sun had cast its spell on the Khalid Lagoon. The sun turned water into liquid gold as the skyscrapers and the famous Al Noor Mosque glistened in the distance.
FORMULA 1 RACE LIKE NO OTHER- U.I.M. F1H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
When I was invited for F1H2O UIM World Championship Powerboat racing, I thought it must have been the F1 car racing as that is what is more popular. I didn’t have a modicum of idea that the F1 racing I will be attending as a media delegate is about powerboat racing. It was a privilege for me to be granted access to VIP enclosure. I am thankful to travel blogging for rewarding me with these opportunities. It was an unparalleled joy to watch the F1H2O UIM World Championship Powerboat racing up, close and personal.
AND THE GAME BEGINS:
The speed boats stood still at the pontoon which marked the start of the race. Slickly designed and not very big in size, the mean machines of different teams vied for attention as the audience waited patiently for the game to begin. The road behind me almost had a traffic jam as people who could not have access to the makeshift stadium flocked to have a glimpse.
Then suddenly with a whistle and a flag off, the race began and people, almost immediately started rooting for their favourite teams. The sound of the speed boats reverberated in the air as audience watched, agape mouthed. With a collective power of 10,000hp, the mere sound gave me adrenaline rush.
The boats tried their best to outsmart each other as they left fountains of water behind them. With a speed as high as 140 miles/ hour, it was a blink and miss performance. I found it exciting to track the boats and their progress.
SO, WHO WON THE U.I.M. F1H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP. AGAIN?
I decided not to sit in the VIP enclosure and preferred standing at the iron railing within the VIP area to get a better glimpse and of course better images and videos footages. I stood their attentively, as the racers completed 45 laps of sheer brilliance. The excitement was building up as the race was about to end. However, it was apparent that who would finally bag the trophy.
Italian Alex Carella, who is now a fourth time world Champion, was clearly leading. Representing Team Abu Dhabi, he finally won the trophy. When his speed boat finally arrived at the pontoon from where the race started, friends, fans and media ran to congratulate him and get a media byte from him.
IT IS NOT EASY BEING A WINNER AT U.I.M. F1H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP
As soon as Alex Carella emerged from the driver’s seat, he hugged people, walked a few steps and sat down on the floor, head buried between knees. Needless to say the exhausted and overwhelmed racer needed some time to balance himself again. It was a well deserved win.
It is not easy to be in top form in a race as challenging as this. The racers endure brain-numbing G forces. It is a great human feat every time the man inside the ‘cockpit’ maneuvers the speedboats on hair pin bends in often zero visibility. I can not even begin to understand the state of mind of Alex when he emerged a winner.
What followed next were the back-to-back brief media interviews with the star of the F1H2O UIM World Championship Powerboat racing and the award ceremony. The winners one by one shook hands with the Emirati chief guests and were awarded with trophies as the audience clapped in unison.
THE GALA DINNER OF THE U.I.M. F1H2O WORLD CHAMPIONSHIP:
We were escorted to the Gala dinner at the remote desert area in the middle of nowhere. As we arrived, we pulled out our jackets, as the wind in open desert is always colder than the city. Joie de vivre and good cheer filled the air and all the participants enjoyed the pleasant evening.
The competitive spirit evaporated as teams mingled with each other, laughed and joked and picked up their trophies from the stage. The cool breeze swayed the wooden lamps gently while the bonfires warmed us. The al fresco seating allowed us to enjoy breathtaking performances under the stars. The fireworks, the dances and the acrobatic performances were world class and fit for an event of this stature.
However, the open air grand buffet disappointed the proud vegetarian in me. I was content with orange juice, assorted breads, the mezze platter (Hummus, Baba Ganoush, Mutabel, tabouleh) and of course the deserts. I wish they had more options for the vegetarians.
Interesting facts about F1H2O UIM World Championship Powerboat racing:
- The U.I.M. F1H2O World Championship is the flagship international series of single seater inshore circuit Formula 1 Powerboat racing.
- Formula 1 Powerboat Racing is not a child’s play. It is risky, challenging, risky and entertaining at the same time. The highly competitive game has a huge fan following in different parts of the globe.
- The racers achieve speed of upto 140mph on straights and 90 mph on hairpin turns.
- 20 of the world’s top racers participate in the race every year.
- The World Championship is now in its 33rd
- Since the last 33 years, U.I.M. F1H2O World Championship has been hosted in 32 countries across 5 continents. In the last 268 Grand Prix, 13 racers have won the World Champion title.
- Alex Carella, who won this year’s trophy has won 4 World Championship trophies till now.
- The earlier boats did not have safety norms to speak of. Drivers used to sit on thin plywood, in an open cockpit which increased chances of injury.
- The speed boats are now compliant with safety standards. Along-with seat belts, the racers also have self contained air supply fitted inside the capsule in case of a mishap.
- Even if a ‘barrel roll’ (capsize) happens, the air bag just above the racer’s head inflates when in comes in contact of water.
- The race circuits vary, but are approximately 2000 meters in distance.
- The hair pin turns results in G-force of upto 4.5 on the racer. What it means is that the racer’s weight is multiplied 4.5 times as he makes a U turn at a speed of 100 mph.
- It is important to study the water currents to predict the result of the Championship.
- Each team has a manager, 2 drivers, mechanics, technical coordinator, radio coordinator etc.
- Each team should have 2 catamarans equipped with 5 litre engine.
- To qualify, the catamarans must compete at 8 to 10 Grand Pix.
- The 17 foot long catamarans weigh upto 500 kgs.
- Made up of carbon fibre, the catamarans are powered by highly tuned V6 outboard engines.
- Each engine pumps out 400hp at close to 10,000rpm.
The view from my #SoulWindow is thrilling!
Disclosure: As is common in the travel industry to host the writers and bloggers for reviews and media reports, I was also invited on the press trip to cover it. However, my views are not influenced by the sponsorship. It is my responsibility to give truthful information to my readers on my blog and I have adhered to that personal policy while writing this blog.
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