DUBAI // The Extreme Marine Team of Rashid al Marri and Salim Fadel al Hamli go into tomorrow's final round of the UIM XCat Middle East Series as favourites after gaining the ascendancy from Victory Team Fazza in Abu Dhabi.
Preparations for the final race are being finalised today at the Dubai International Marine Club ahead of the 4pm start on the waters of Mina Seyahi.
Now on the cusp of securing the Middle East title, al Marri of the Extreme Team reflects on what has already been a good season.
"I watched Class 1 racing when I was younger and dreamed of racing myself. I always felt good when I was on the sea," he said. "I started racing wooden powerboats and then I started to design and build powerboats. This is the 4th XCat boat I have built, I like the design and it feels good to race, this season has been very good for the Extreme Marine Team."
The overall rankings were shaken up in on Monday, when in round three of the four race series, the Extreme Marine Team ended the winning streak of the Fazza team piloted by Arif al Zafain and Nadir bin Hendi. Another surprise came from the Qatar Team's Mohamed al Nasr and Hamad al Mansouri who took second place after over taking the strong pairing of Rashid al Tayer and Majid al Mansouri in Spirit of Abu Dhabi.
Fazza had to retire from the race with technical problems, forcing them in to second position in the series on 800 points — 200 behind Extreme Marine.
"We will put what happened in the last race behind us," said al Zafain. "We will now focus totally on the next race and make sure the boat is in top condition to perform well."
The competitors, representing 10 different nations, have praised the Middle East Series for its professionalism and the quality of pilots taking part.
"Up to 60 per cent of the pilots are champions in their field and this is the only series where you can compete with such experience in one race," said the Swiss Manhotel pilot Omar Danial. "The XCat class is one design and easy to understand, other races I've taken part in have many classes and run on a handicap system and I much prefer the simplicity of one design."
Sid Bensalah, the promoter and secretary general of the World Professional Powerboat Association, is keen to advertise the merits of the class. "The XCat class was redesigned here in the UAE and has developed very well over the last three years," he said.
"It has attracted many of the top pilots from around the world and sparked a lot of interest. We hope to expand the venues next season to include some of the other Emirates and continue to promote the class globally."