Class 1 goes professional

From 2007 the sport's premier series will be run under a new professional body.

The International Offshore Team Association (IOTA), the promoter and worldwide television and commercial rights holder of the Class 1 World Powerboat Championship has announced that from 2007 the sport’s premier series will be run under the authority of the newly formed World Professional Powerboating Association (WPPA).

IOTA’s General Secretary, Marco Sala, confirmed that the decision taken by the IOTA Board to run the championship under the WPPA had the unanimous support of the teams but emphasised that the door was still open for the Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) to hold further discussions.

“IOTA has worked tirelessly over recent months to try to broker an agreement that would result in all parties working closely together with a single aim of improving critical areas of our sport,” he said. “We have tried hard to convince the UIM to listen to what we and the WPPA are proposing and to work with us. But unfortunately this has not happened.”

The formation of the WPPA was announced at a recent press conference in Dubai by founder and elected Chairman, Saeed Hareb and follows months of lengthy exchanges between Hareb, the IOTA Board and the UIM over a wide range of issues relating to the running of the sport and its future management and direction.

In July a Professional Working Group with representatives from all parties, including the UIM, was set up to see if there was common ground for Class 1 to establish an autonomous body which would regulate the sport but which would stay linked to the UIM, allowing the series to remain under its umbrella. And up until the UIM General Assembly in Malaysia in November, it appeared that there was common ground. However, after further discussions the UIM advised IOTA that it would not agree to the proposed plans.

“It was always the intention that the new authority, whose sole purpose is to improve the running and management of our sport, would work with the UIM and we would still like to do so. But it is now up to the UIM to decide. The door is still open.” commented Marco Sala.

The WPPA will be based in Dubai and is made up of representatives from Australia, Italy, Norway, Portugal, Qatar, UK, USA and the UAE and whose immediate responsibilities will include the coordination and setting up of commissions and working groups to optimise the clearly defined set of technical rules for the coming season which were presented at the assembly in November.

“A clear demonstration of the interest that this initiative has generated within the worldwide professional powerboating community is emphasised by those members who were invited and have elected to join the WPPA, including Bill Barry-Cotter from Australia and John Haggin representing the American series, OSS,” said, IOTA’s Chairman, HE Sheikh Hassan Bin Jabor Al Thani. “We have also received very positive and encouraging responses from several National Authorities and we have expressed the hope in a letter to the UIM that they will reconsider their position with regard to this initiative and show willing to find a solution to recognise and work with this new professional powerboating body.”


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