All photos by Chantelle D’mello
For those looking to close out the weekend with a splash, Qatar’s Corniche will be the site of much cheer and activity this afternoon, as Formula 1 Powerboat racing teams gear up for the opening round of the 2015 UIM F1 H20 World Championship, the highest class of inshore powerboat racing.
The event, which encompasses eight races in some five countries over the course of the year, is to watersport what Formula 1 is to auto racing.
Inaugurated in 1980, this year’s edition will see teams from China, Abu Dhabi, France, Qatar and several other countries compete for the world title in 18 ft-long, 500-kg plus lightweight boats made from carbon and Kevlar.
According to F1H2O’s website, powerboats can go even faster than F1 cars, and accelerate from zero to 160km in a mere four seconds.
Races are held at selected locations around the world, chosen for their water conditions, infrastructure, public access and other facilities.
At each venue, there are two Grand Prix races – one on each day – and several qualifying rounds. Each race lasts for 30 minutes of racing time and two laps, with up to 24 boats hurtling around the race circuit at speeds of some 225 km/hr.
Though windy conditions yesterday halted some of the race’s qualifying sessions, the event seems to be on schedule today, with the F1 Grand Prix race to be held at 3:45pm, and a concurrent Formula 4 race at 2pm.
Speaking to Doha News, Mohammed Al Obaidly, a 28-year-old rider, and one of three Qataris on the local team, said that competitions like these offered rookie “F4” drivers the opportunity to hone their skills and gain experience needed to move up classes.
“Formula 4 is a lower-division class of racing using smaller, less powerful boats. It takes almost 10 years for riders like me to move up to Formula 1. Currently there are only two Qatari riders and one Qatari assistant.
The rest of our team is made up mostly of Americans and Italians, because they have the most experience with the sport. We brought them in to help grow power boat racing in Qatar and to develop a local team. InshAllah in a few years you will see a team that is entirely Qatari,” he said.
American Shaun Torrente, the team’s other rider, has so far led Qatar to first place in the qualifying rounds, registering the fastest completion time on the 1.76 km-long course.
Qatar has routinely ranked well in F1H2O competitions, bagging the title in 2008, and then for three consecutive years from 2011-2013.
The event, which is free and open to the public, will also be broadcast live today on Al Kass TV.
After Qatar, teams will move to France where the next leg of the championship is slated to be held on June 7.
Do you plan to check out the races? Thoughts?
First championship for me in Qatar. Very excited to watch it.
DN! Y U NO GIVE THIS INFO EARLIER?
It was given on time, that’s why I could reach on time to watch it ! 🙂
It’s painful sometimes how unprepared Doha News is. This isn’t even mentioned in the 7 things to do this weekend, even though the stands were being set up last weekend with the event advertising splashed all over it. They even held jetski races last weekend in the same location.
Come on Doha News – this is local stuff happening in your corniche – you need to get these into your ‘things to do’ articles to give those who are unaware of these events but interested to see more a chance to add these to their plans.
I agree, luckily im not that much into this sort of stuff but would have liked to gone to watch it. I read the things to do in doha this weekend but im sure there was no mention of this.
These were really cool. Unfortunately, two boats flipped through the air and collided. I hope nobody was hurt.
Via the official F1H2O website, both pilots escaped serious injuries:
On lap 22 two-time World Champion Sami Selio made a great move past second year man Erik Stark for fourth and as he headed to the right-hand turn on the backside of the race circuit he slid past Emirates Team driver Ahmed Al Hameli into third place but as he pinched in from the outside going for the right-hand corner he lost control briefly, stuffed the boat, and it snapped back up right into the path of Al Hameli. The two boats violently collided flying into the air both barrel rolling to a stop bringing out the pace boat for the remainder of the event. Both drivers were lucky to escape serious injury.