Italian three-time defending World Champion Alex Carella of Qatar Team won the opening round of the UIM F1 h2O World Championship, the Grand Prix of Qatar, on Saturday.
Carella, 28, was trailing teammate Shaun Torrente when the Florida driver’s boat caught fire briefly on the 31st lap of the 40 lap event, which ended his dreams of victory.
Torrente’s power steering failed him as he was forced to quickly drive the boat off the circuit to the waiting safety personnel to put out the smoke.
In the process, Carella picked up his ninth career victory and earned 20 points to take the early lead in the championship.
“I feel sorry for my team-mate Shaun today, but really both of us had a great package and it was nice to see we could run up front and control the race for all forty laps,” said Carella.
Carella’s challengers struggled, beginning with Finn Sami Selio of the Mad Croc Team who started from pole and only lasted one lap before he pulled out due to technical problems.
Fastest qualifier Jonas Andersson of Team Sweden saw his day go from bad to worse when first in the morning his engine broke, forcing him to the back of the grid and then lasting only two laps before his day too came to an end.
French driver Philippe Chiappe of the CTIC China Team took second place with Duarte Benavente of Portugal reaching his first podium in 36 races for the F1 GC Atlantic Team by coming home a solid third place.
The Portuguese said: “I’m really feeling confident with my race set-up as we qualified a solid seventh and now taking the podium for the first time since 2009, I’m truly looking forward to the next race of the season.”
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The first ever Stand Up Paddle (SUP) Festival at Emirates Palace takes place on Friday March 21, and organisers Abu Dhabi Stand Up Paddlers are encouraging everyone to make their way to the iconic location in the UAE capital where fun activities and races will be on the agenda.
SUP basically involves a large wide surfboard used to ride by standing on it and then using a paddle to move yourself around.
A variety of races for all ages will take place during the course of the day at the beach which includes 1km (adults, juniors and kids), 3km (adults and juniors) and 6km (adults).
There will also be a mini SUP triathlon which consists of a 200m swim, 500m beach run and a 500m paddle. The final race of the day will be the 200m sprint race where paddlers will battle it out in a knock out format to be crowned the fastest paddler in each category.
For those interested in taking part in the race, you don’t have much time as registration for the races closes tomorrow (Monday March 17). Registration must be done by visiting www.premieronline.com.
Entry fees are Dh200 for adults, Dh100 for juniors (13 to 16), and Dh100 for kids (12 and under). You can enter as many races as you wish and each participant must sign a form to ensure they can swim.
Prizes will be awarded for the top three finishers and a raffle draw will also take place with all proceeds going for World Water Day, which is on March 22. Each participant will receive a race T-shirt, a lunch meal and a BBQ dinner ticket.
The BBQ takes place after the races at the Emirates Palace Marina where the day will be finished with the awards ceremony and a SUP movie on a big screen underneath the lights of the palace.
And if you’re not keen on doing SUP, then organisers are giving free entry to spectators – which gives you the perfect opportunity to cheer the participants and hopefully be convinced to take part in future events.
In fact, spectators will even have the chance to try their hand at SUP as a number of sponsors will be providing free demonstrations.
And if spectactors want to stay for the BBQ, then tickets are available for Dh75. Jen Scully of Abu Dhabi Stand Up Paddlers said it promises to be a day of great entertainment.
“It will be a really exciting atmosphere and a fun day out for families,” said Scully. “SUP is a fun activity and a great sport to be involved in. It’s the fastest growing water sport in the world and the thrill is so great. It’s a great family activity and the sport has its health benefits physically and mentally. Overall it’s just fun.”
What: Emirates Palace SUP Festival
When: Friday, March 21
Where: Emirates Palace, Abu Dhabi
Contact: For registration and more information visit www.premieronline.com
Top UAE swimmer Mubarak Al Besher was thrilled to clock a time that was very close to his PB in the 50m breaststroke at the Winter Nationals yesterday at the Hamdan Sports Complex.
The Emirati Olympian has shown tremendous improvement in recent months and picked up three golds and a new GCC record last month at the GCC Championships.
In the Hamdan pool the 26-year-old continued that fine work, clocking 29.32 seconds in the 50m breaststroke to top the podium, which was only 0.08 seconds off his personal best mark.
"This is the first time I swim a time so close to my PB in a national championship so I'm very pleased with that. Every time I swim at home I'm like 0.50 or 0.40 seconds off my mark so this is a huge improvement," Al Besher told Sport360.
Swimmers from 14 different clubs across the UAE competed in 10 and Under, 11 and Under, and Open categories and organisers were thrilled with the huge turnout.
The competition was meant to be held last month but had to be postponed due to the time conflict with the GCC Championships.
"The turnout is great, all the teams were ready and the competition is very high, particularly in the men's open age races between Al Wasl and Al Nasr Club swimmers," said Abdullah Mubarak Al Zahmi, the Vice President of the UAE Swimming Federation. "What's making me particularly pleased is that many swimmers who had quit swimming at those clubs are back competing again. We've seen some good timings in the 400m freestyle and the 50m butterfly so far.
"Ali Al Kaabi swam a time that would qualify him to the Youth Olympics which is very promising and hopefully he can record this timing again next month at the qualifying competition here in Dubai.
"This is also an important meet to prepare our senior team who have the West Asian championships coming up. For the young swimmers, 11 and under and 10 and under, this meet is showing tight competition between Al Wasl, Al Wahda, Al Ain and Al Nasr clubs and we'll see which club will prove the strongest in the country."
Al Kaabi is a 16-year-old promising butterfly sprinter who is gunning for a qualification spot in this year's Youth Olympic Games in Nanjing.
He clocked a personal best 26.16 seconds in the 50m butterfly yesterday and says he believes he can go even better before Nanjing.
The Winter Nationals continues today with two sessions at the Hamdan pool.