Team manager Gianfranco Venturelli dreams of grand slam

With 26 days to the season opener in Doha, Qatar on April 25, the defending World, Middle East and Edox Pole Position Champions are still to finalise the line-up of their second boat.

“The first crew is decided with Arif (Al Zafeen) and Nadir (bin Hendi) back together in the winning boat of last year, but we are still looking closely at our options for the second boat,” said Victory’s Team and General Manager, Gianfranco Venturelli. “Right now we are running a clinic for three drivers, all of who come from our local historical wooden powerboat race series in Dubai.

“Many of our past Champions, Khalfan Harib, Saeed Al Tayer and Ali Nasser, all came from from this class of racing, and we have some very good pilots who we will look at over the next few weeks before making our final decision.”

As he ponders over his selection, another issue on Venturelli’s mind is the Grand Slam – winning all four titles in a season – a feat that Victory has yet to realise, and that has only ever been achieved once and by their former arch-rivals, Spirit of Norway, in 2003.

“The Grand Slam is a huge dream,” he said. “We were so, so close last year but lost out because of one broken propeller in Romania. Of course it is one of our targets this year, but with the very hungry competition we face, I think it is almost mission impossible.”

Since joining Victory as Team and General Manager in 1998, Venturelli has guided the Dubai outfit to five World, five European, three Middle East, three Pole Position Championships and to 40 Grand’s Prix and 27 Pole Position wins.