THE XCAT WORLD SERIES
Way back in 2006, on a routine flight after attending a Class III, 6-litre powerboat race in Doha, a group of drivers mulled their future in that particular class of racing with Sid Bensalah of the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC). On his part, Sid Bensalah conveyed the drivers’ sentiments to DIMC Managing Director and Chief Executive Officer Saeed Hareb, who in turn, asked that a feasibility report be prepared to have a separate class of racing which would have an appeal to a worldwide audience while also making it a very approachable and trust-worthy brand of powerboat racing – one that would blend the high-octane Class One and the more sedate Formula One.
And so with Sid Bensalah at the helm started a series of brain-storming sessions and deliberations to design a concept of racing to unearth the huge potential contained in the world of powerboat racing while also delivering a new and unique class of racing.
What followed was reassessment, re-organisation, re-branding and ultimately the re-launch of the erstwhile Class III, 6-litre series to see the birth of XCAT Racing.
XCAT stands for Xtreme Catamaran Series Powerboat Championship. 2008 witnessed the first-ever series of five XCAT races in the UAE followed by another four races held in co-ordination with the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) and the DIMC in the next two years, while another five rounds, including Fujairah International Marine Club have been planned for 2012.
The growth of the series has been steep and popular with drivers from across the globe getting hooked on to a brand of racing that is both economical and entertaining.
Today, just three years down the road, the XCAT Series is arguably one of the most sought-after brands of powerboat racing with each round drawing a field of nearly 30 teams.
The reasons for this huge popularity are many, and prominent among these is the fact that XCAT racing is the most challenging, it has the largest international contingent, the biggest number of international teams competing and drivers in the world of powerboat racing from far-off Scandinavia to the USA and Australia.
In addition, the WPPA – Promoters of the series – ensure that they take in some of the most glamorous locations and venues on the globe, giving viewers a unique and entertaining experience during the season.
And if this is not sufficient then a total prize fund of $1.5 million evenly split among the top finishers right down to 15th place can be enough motivation to bring the best of the racing world into the series.
Simply put, the XCAT boats are multi-hulls made of advanced carbon technology comprising of two outboard engines with upto 6,000cc of horse power and the minimum length allowed is 7.6 metres and a maximum of 10 metres. There is also a weight allowance with each boat enabled to be 1,755 kgs along with the stipulation that 110 kgs will be added per metre for boats longer than 7.5 mts. These boats are capable of touching speeds of 120mph with their V6 engines.
The XCAT World Series is determined from the points accrued from all the XCAT World Series events held during a calendar season. The scoring for boats during the course of the series is simple with the winner collecting 400 points for first place, followed by 300 points for second, 225 points for third, 169 points for fourth, 127 points for fifth, 95 points for sixth, 71 points for seventh, 53 points for eighth, 40 points for ninth, 30 points for tenth right down to a single point for the boat ending in 20th place.
All races carry points with no discards and in case of a tie in the overall standings at the end of the season, the number of first places shall be considered, then the number of second places, etc. to arrive at a clear champion. And in case the series is still tied then the boat with the fastest average speed in any of the series races will be deemed champion.
Rules stipulate that the XCAT race lap should be a minimum of 2.8 Nautical Miles and a maximum of 4 Nautical Miles. Race Laps must be repeated till the minimum distance for race duration is 60 Nautical Miles or one hour plus an additional lap.
Much attention has been paid in ensuring safety and security of the boats and their crew during the course of a race. It is deemed that the Local Organising Committee should be responsible for communicating with the world governing body UIM to perform all safety functions and secure all necessary safety facilities in accordance with the UIM Safety Procedures and Guidelines Requirements. In addition, each local race promoter will be required to provide all personnel, materials and services required as per the UIM Safety Procedures and Guidelines.
With a line-up of 30 boats taking part in each race since its inception, the XCAT Series has scaled the heights and caught the imagination of the powerboating world. It has become tremendously popular with spectators and drivers alike. And with a programme of consolidation planned over the new years this class of racing holds all promises to be the very best on the water.