Defending champions sweep the board in Abu Dhabi

Victory team wins both rounds at Abu Dhabi Grand Prix but Curtis comes second

The opening two rounds of this year’s World Class 1 Offshore Championship were dominated by the Dubai Victory team.

Defending champions Arif Al Zafeen and Nadir bin Hendi produced an emphatic performance to achieve two wins out of two at the Abu Dhabi Grand Prix.

Second and third places went to Spirit of Qatar 96 and 95. Sheikh Hassan and Britain’s Steve Curtis collected their second race podium of the weekend after leading home their third placed Qatar teammates, Ali Al Neama and Matteo Nicolini, in the second race.

It was a clinical demonstration by the defending world champions, but they were made to work hard coming from the rear to take their 23rd race win.

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The long start-run on the outside of Lulu Island strung the boats out as they battled the rough conditions but it was Spirit of Qatar 96 which grabbed the advantage and edged ahead of Victory to lead at the first turn, with Fendi Racing third.

The double podium finish completed a highly successful weekend for the Spirit of Qatar team.

Steve Curtis says: “We showed what we can do in the rough, but our boats are just not suited to the calmer water. But Victory had a perfect race and you can’t do much about that.”

The ten boat line-up indicates a slight revival in the fortunes of the series. It saw a big improvement over last season when only six teams regularly took part although the fleet is still widely divided in performance with only six contenders completing the full course.

The welcome return of Britain’s Chris Parsonage to Class 1 – as team owner rather than crew – did not get off to a good start his boat Parsonage Racing finally finishing seventh overall.

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