The season-opening race of the 2018 Union Internationale Motonautique XCAT World Championship started off with immediate drama when two boats collided on the first turn of the first of two Fujairah Grand Prix races on Thursday afternoon in Fujairah, UAE.

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Victory Team’s Dubai Police duo of Arif Al-Zaffein and Nadir Bin Hendi earned another checkered flag at the XCAT season opener in Fujairah. Photo courtesy XCAT World Championship

The collision on the first lap between Maritimo, which violently flipped over, and Team Australia, which spun out, caused both teams to retire. Fortunately Maritimo teammates Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton as well as Team Australia teammates Pål Virik Nilsen and Jan Trigve Braaten were all OK following the accident. Only Willaton, who required assistance from the Bergamo Scuba Angels rescue team, needed a further check at the hospital because of the time he spent underwater.

According to a release on the XCAT World Championship website, Team Australia will do its best to fix the boat before Friday’s race. Unfortunately the Maritimo boat needs way more work so it is going to sit out the second round of competition in Fujairah.

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The Maritimo team of Tom Barry-Cotter and Ross Willaton were OK following Thursday's crash on the first lap.

Following a restart, the Victory Team’s Dubai Police duo of Arif Al-Zaffein and Nadir Bin Hendi jumped out to comfortable lead and never looked back with 222 Offshore teammates Giovanni Carpitella of Italy and Darren Nicholson of Australia following in second for the entire race without much of a challenge from any other teams.

xcat18 fujairah1 abudhabiThe battle for third pinned Swecat Racing’s Mikael Bengtsoon and Erik Stark against both of the Team Abu Dhabi teams—Team Abu Dhabi 4’s Shaun Torrente and Faleh Al-Mansoori and Team Abu Dhabi 5’s Rashed Al-Tayer and Majed Al-Mansoori (UAE). In the end, Swecat finished third a few seconds ahead of Team Abu Dhabi 4, and New Star teammates Mikhail Kitashev and Dmitry Vandyshev of Russia took fifth with Fujairah 46’s Diego Testa and Andrea Comello of Italy finishing ahead of the seventh-place Team Abu Dhabi 5, which was assessed a penalty lap after the race.

With some new American impact on the team—Torrente on throttles in the No. 4 boat and his No. 5 teammates in a brand new MTI raceboat (click on the image at right to enlarge)—Team Abu Dhabi fell short of its expectations in the first race. Racing together for the first time, Torrente and Al-Mansoori were happy with the finish but expect to improve tomorrow.

“It was a good solid first race for me and Faleh,” Torrente said. “We made a little mistake on the first lap that cost us the podium but, hopefully, we can still do that tomorrow. The boat performed really well and we gained a lot of experience and were really comfortable by the end of the race. We wanted the podium and got fourth, but that’s good points for the championship.”

Look for a recap from tomorrow’s second round action on speedonthewater.com.

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