Excitement is building in the UAE as this week Sharjah hosts the F1H2O World Championship for the 20th year running, along with the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship for the 5th year. The races attract the world’s leading powerboat and aquabike drivers to the region. If you’re new to it, here’s all you need to know about the event.
F1H20 is highly competitive and entertaining powerboat racing, which has been held in Sharjah for the past 20 years, with added anticipation for this year’s event as it’s the first time the Sharjah Team will be taking to the water to compete. Along with the powerboat competition, fans will also see the UIM-ABP Aquabike World Championship – the most acclaimed and prestigious international series promoting personal watercraft in a competitive racing environment and one of the fastest, most spectacular, demanding and entertaining sports on water.
Fans will witness the participation of more than 85 racers from 30 different countries around the world, who will showcase their skills in speedboat racing at speeds ranging from 90 to 155 miles per hour. Inside each cockpit sits the driver, peering through a tiny windscreen as one hand grasps the steering wheel, the other poised over the start button.
There are plenty of reasons to attend the event – one of which being the UAE is heavily represented this year with the Sharjah Formula One Powerboat Team taking part, in addition to the Abu Dhabi Team of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club team, and the Victory Team of Dubai International Marine Sports Club.
What’s more, the emirate’s growing prominence in the sports sector, especially water sports, will be aptly highlighted by the participation of the Sharjah Formula One Powerboat Team during the event. This underscores Sharjah’s 20 years of experience and its outstanding success in harnessing infrastructure resources and its tourism capabilities in order to support the global events and activities sector.
Over the last 35 years the sport has played out 279 Grand Prix in 32 countries across five continents, 14 drivers have captured the World title, 47 becoming members of the Grand Prix winners club.
Of the 14 World Champions seven are multiple title winners; Italy’s Guido Cappellini is the most decorated winning 10, Italy’s Alex Carella and American Scott Gillman with four, France’s Philippe Chiappe and Italy’s Renato Molinari with three each, Finland’s Sami Selio and Wales’ Jonathan Jones with two apiece. While today’s F1H2O catamarans bear a striking resemblance to those in action throughout the 1980s there is a world of difference in terms of driver protection and general safety.
The early boats were constructed from thin plywood with drivers sitting in an open, exposed cockpit with the risk of injury a high probability in the case of an accident. With safety at the forefront of boat development, British designer and racer Chris Hodges set about improving the situation and constructed a safety cell that was produced from an immensely strong composite material.
Instead of the cockpit being part of the main structure, Hodges’ capsule was separate and was fitted to the hulls and centre section. For the first time drivers were actually strapped into their seats. The idea was that if a boat was involved in an accident, the timber hulls could break up and absorb the impact forces while the driver remained well protected inside his cell.
In the late 1990s further developments saw the introduction of an airbag in the cockpit that would inflate in a crash to ensure the capsule wouldn’t sink before rescue crews could attend. Over the years, boat construction has been developed and today few if any are built of timber, now replaced by modern composites.
The Sharjah event has long been popular with spectators and is one of the highlights in the city’s sporting calendar, last year saw Erik Stark from team Abu Dhabi crowned the winner in the F1 Grand Prix of Sharjah while Shaun Torrente, from team Abu Dhabi, was crowned Champion of the UIM F1H2O World Championship.
This year’s edition of the Sharjah World Championship Week is returning from 17 – 21 Dec 2019, Khlaid Lagoon, Sharjah, UAE. Learn more at visitsharjah.com
F1 & F4 Race Schedules
Day One – Thursday 19th December
09:00 – 10:20 FREE PRACTICE F4
09:30 – 09:50 TIMED TRIALS F4
10:15 – 11:15 FREE PRACTICE F1
14:30 – 14:50 F4 RACE DAY 1
15:30 – 16:30 QUALIFICATIONS F1
Day Two – Saturday 21st December
09:10 – 09:30 FREE PRACTICE F4
09:40 – 10:00 TIMED TRIALS F4
10:15 – 11:15 FREE PRACTICE F1
14:30 – 14:50 F4 RACE DAY 2
15:45 – 16:00 F1 PARADE LAP
16:00 – 17:00 F1 GRAND PRIX OF SHARJAH RACE
17:15 PRIZE GIVING CEREMONY
2019 Drivers Standings
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