Dubai’s Victory Team capped a successful trans-Atlantic debut with an overall podium finish as the 38th Annual Key West World Championships concluded in Key West, Florida, on Monday.
Moving into the North American powerboating scene for the first time, Victory 33 with Salem Al Adidi and John Tomlinson on board took their third successive podium to finish their campaign in third.
However, it wasn’t all plain sailing – Victory Team’s second boat, with Eisa Al Ali and Steve Curtis on board, flipped on Turn 1 of the fourth lap to bring a premature end to their American campaign.
The two Victory Team boats had created quite a stir in the penultimate race on Friday by snatching the top two positions to throw the chase for overall honours wide open. But, on Monday, front-runners Wake Effects and Team CRC rebounded to take the top two spots in the race and the overall standings.
As the surge for the top honours continued, a host of boats, including Huski Chocolate and Lucas Oil, fell to mechanical issues and then Curtis and Al Ali joined the growing list of casualties by flipping their Victory 3 while negotiating a sharp turn on the far side of the course.
Victory 3 flips – Photo: Peter Boden
Undaunted by the yellow flag, Team CRC and Wake Effects continued running each other close at the top. But in a quick move, Rusty Ron and Jeff Harris in their Wake Effects boat passed Team CRC and never looked back after that as they took the chequered flag to be crowned world champions after finishing with a three-race total of 883 points edging Team CRC by just half a point, while Victory 33 followed in third overall with 812 points.
“This is the world of powerboat racing. It is tough out there and for us to come here and land with an overall placing is a huge motivation,” said Huraiz Bin Huraiz, Chairman of Board of Directors at Victory Team after the race.
“We have done some good ground work in our first year in North America and I am sure we can build on this performance in due course of time. We have made a start into a new territory and that is the important part of our team synergy. It is now just a matter of time when we build up on this success.
“There were many doubters that Victory Team would be successful in the US simply because the rules were not in our favour. The other boats all had engines more than 2,000hp, but we stuck on to our engines with a 1,100hp as that is going to be the specification for engines from 2019.
“We have a lot of work to do to prove that we are the No. 1 powerboat unit in the world. And the good thing is that we have made the right start with this third overall position in Key West.”
Unlimited Offshore competitors received a major shock during their off-day of racing when the race organisers of Super Boat International announced that the two Team Victory boats had been penalized for jumping the start during Friday’s Superboat Unlimited race, while Huski Chocolate was penalized for blocking other racers on the course.
The two boats from Dubai – UAE-33 and UAE-3 Team Victory – received a demotion in points after coming in first and second on Friday.
After the penalties were imposed, the Superboat Unlimited teams were then sitting in the following order in terms of points:
• 7 Team CRC/Spooled Up Racing, a 48’ MTI featuring owner/driver Mike DeFrees and throttleman Jay Muller, led with 432.5 points.
• UAE-33 Team Victory was in second place with 407.5 points.
• 77 Lucas Oil Silverhook, a 48’ Silverhook driven by Jay Johnson and throttled by Nigel Hook, have 389.5 points.
• 17 Wake Effects, a 48’ MTI with owner/driver Rusty Rahm and throttleman Jeff Harris who were last season’s National Champions in the class. have 383.0 points.
• UAE 3 Team Victory has 367.0 points.
• 91 Zabo Racing, a 42’ Victory driven by Ugur Isik and throttled by UK’s Miles Jennings, has 335.5 points.
• 64 Huski Chocolate, a 54’ MTI owned and driven by Tim Trahan and throttled by Bruce Bullock, have 296.0 points.