Alex Carella clinched a dramatic victory in the Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi and Thani Al-Qamzi produced a brilliant surge to finish third as the Team Abu Dhabi duo grabbed the lead in the race for the team title in the UIM F1 H20 World Championship.
In one of the most exciting races ever staged in the F1 series, Carella passed Finland’s Sami Selio with three laps to run to claim his team’s first victory in its home race in 10 years.
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Lying third for much of the race behind Team Sweden’s Jonas Andersson and Selio, Carella seized his opportunity on lap 44 when Selio suffered engine issues and the Italian stormed through to the finish, pushing Team Abu Dhabi to the top of the F1 team standings.
Andersson had started the race from fifth and surged into the lead on the opening lap as Carella was left behind. He held the advantage until lap 33 before engine issues sidelined his Molgaard.
“At the start my engine didn’t fire, but this victory is very important for me,” said Carella.
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“I didn’t think I had a chance to win, but I battled until the end. I am so happy.”
Frenchman Philippe Chiappe maintained his composure and stayed out of trouble to finish second and that was sufficient for the reigning UIM F1 H2O world champion to retain his title with one race remaining in Sharjah next Friday.
After engine problems yesterday ruined his chances of a first F1 victory on home waters, Al-Qamzi produced a sensational drive through the field from the rear of the start grid to finish in third position in the second Team Abu Dhabi boat.
“I started from last and I managed to get on to the podium,” said Al-Qamzi.
Earlier Team Abu Dhabi’s Mohammed Al-Mehairbi and Rashed Al-Qamzi got their challenge for honours in the second F-4S race off to a superb start when they qualified in first and second positions.
It was Al-Mehairbi’s first ever career pole position, and while he suffered an early blow when the race began, he recovered to finish second, 2.56 seconds behind back-to-back race winner Anton Nyholm.
“I am very happy to get the second place here,” he said.
Synchronised swimming may appear to be nothing more than elegant and dainty on the outside, but the sport is more than meets the eye.
Next time you enter a pool, attempt to contort your body below the surface with only your legs breaking through the water. It’s far from easy.
Of course, synchronised swimming also has plenty of finesse and grace, which makes it one of the handful of sports that combines precision with aesthetics.
Sarah Gawad, co-founder of Synquatics, a synchronised swimming club in Dubai, believes that’s what makes synchro unique.
“It’s a deceptively easy-looking sport,” Gawad said. “You’re trying to defy gravity because you’re not allowed to touch the bottom of the pool at any stage. It’s very challenging all-round. The nice thing is you become incredibly fit and you’re combining so many sports into one, like swimming and gymnastics and the best part, of course, dance.
“You have to do your own choreography with music and have a good balance between the technical side of the sport and the artistry side as well.”
Synquatics have strived to raise the sport’s profile in the UAE since opening in 2012 as the self-described first synchro club in the region.
Sarah and her twin sister, Heba, were professional synchronised swimmers before the former became a teacher and the latter became a personal trainer. Since moving to Dubai and forming the club, they’ve expanded Synquatics to over 200 swimmers.
“When we came here, we were surprised not to find anyone doing synchro.
“So we started doing one or two hours a week and it became popular very quickly. It grew very fast,” Gawad said. “It was wonderful to see how fast it was growing, obviously because it was a niche thing and there was no one else doing it. It’s nice to have a synchro community where everyone shares a passion for the sport. Soon, we’ll be able to have competitions and be able to establish ourselves more as a sport in the region.”
At the moment, Synquatics hold two competitive events during the year, but both have become internal due to the growth of the club. Gawad hopes soon enough there will be enough demand for city or nationwide competitions to include more clubs and swimmers.
Synquatics offer classes for children, but also have two adults’ classes. Swimmers aged six and above can train once, twice or three times a week, with a prerequisite guideline of being able to swim a 20 metre lap without touching the bottom or edge of the pool.
Sessions take place at Safa Private School, various Fitness First locations and Fit Republik. For a full schedule and more information, visit www.synquatics.com.
Become a water ballerina and attempt to learn a sport both enjoyable and challenging with Synquatics.
What: Synquatics synchronised swimming club
Geared towards: Synchronised swimming enthusiasts
When & where: Throughout the week at Safa Private School, Fitness First locations and Fit Republik
Contact & info: Visit www.synquatics.com for more information
Team Abu Dhabi have set themselves a big target in the penultimate round of the 2015 UIM F1 H2O World Championship, aiming for an outright race win to improve their chances for a second world title of the season.
While Thani Al-Qamzi and Alex Carella both have a mathematical chance of landing the drivers’ world championship, Team Abu Dhabi manager Guido Cappellini made it clear that the main focus is on Friday’s Grand Prix of Abu Dhabi.
“Yes we know that Thani and Alex are among nine drivers who could be champions, but realistically that is almost impossible,” said Cappellini, who captured the world title 10 times in his career.
“For me, the main focus is to get a win here in Abu Dhabi and to take the team championship at the end of the season because there is a better possibility that we could do that.”
Cappellini believes the Frenchman Philippe Chiappe’s 26 point lead means he is virtually certain to be crowned world champion.
In the team championship, however, Al-Qamzi and Alex Carella are within 15 points of the CTIC China Team pairing of Chiappe and Ziwei Xiong with one more race to go in Sharjah. Team Abu Dhabi will be aiming to add to the UIM Class 1 World Powerboat Championship title which Gary Ballough and John Tomlinson secured last month for Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club, where the team is based.