Curtis prepares to challenge the title for a seventh time

Qatar 96throttleman, six time world champion Steve Curtis, says his rebuilt race boat will be ‘virtually new’ and will bear little resemblance to the old Championship winning,Spirit of Norway.

Following Sheikh Hassan and Curtis’ crash while qualifying in Doha last year, which all but destroyed the team’s number one outfit,Qatar 96has been almost totally rebuilt. The main rebuild of the hull and deck was carried out at Nicolini Offshore’s facility near Lake Lecco in Italy before being moved to the team’s second European base in Norway, where Curtis has spent the last few weeks overseeing the crucial re-rigging before the boat is shipped to Qatar at the end of February.

“There was very little left after the crash and it was simply a case of starting from scratch,” commented Curtis. “The positive side is that we have been able to rebuild to suit not just Sheikh Hassan and myself, but to suit the type of courses we use these days. We have made extensive modifications to the hull, including dramatic changes to the underwater running surface. In other areas we have focussed on improving acceleration and ultimately developing a boat that will suit all conditions.

“And with the new regulations banning the use of electronic devices, I believe we will be very competitive, especially when starting in flat conditions while still being able to dominate in the rough.”

“Victory Team did a hell of a job last season and deserved the title – but this season we really intend to give them a run for their money.”

Regarding the rules for 2009, Curtis’ team-mate and Championship drivers’ representative, Matteo Nicolini, is confident that the new rules will be well policed by WPPA Technical Director, Patrick Heslop.

“Rules can be interpreted by different people in different ways, but in principle it is clear, and Patrick has the power to stop anything he considers to be illegal,” he said. “The new rulings will put greater emphasis on pilot skills and bring costs down. Trim, rudders, drives – all must be manually controlled – use of electronics is no longer acceptable.”