Fire and capsize in practice reduces Class 1 line-up

Crews from two boats escape unharmed after dramatic session

The practice session for the opening round of the Class 1 offshore championship in Qatar saw the challenge of two conteneders come to a premature end on Thursday.

Welmax capsized and FA.RO ACCIAI caught fire. All four crew members escaped unharmed.

Welmax‘s Brazilian driver Paul Gaiser and Norwegian throttleman Bjorge Jacobsen were on their first lap of the 8.44nm circuit when they rolled over.

Both drivers emerging from the upturned hull via the escape hatch.

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“Paul and BJ were a little unclear what happened. It seems the stern lifted as they came into the turn, the boat hooked and then went over,” said team manager Per Carsten Michelsen.

Later in the session, Massimo Roggiero and Pal Virik Nilsen were starting a timed lap when FA.RO ACCIAI suddenly slowed.

Moments later flames and smoke were seen billowing from the right engine bay.

“Everything seemed to be okay when I noticed the oil pressure was falling dramatically,” said Norwegian Pal Virik Nilsen.

“I stopped and checked the data and called my crew chief. Suddenly we smelt smoke. I looked in the rear mirror and saw flames coming from the hatch.

“We went for the fire extinguisher but there was nothing we could do. There was over 300 litres of fuel on board so we both leapt for the safety of the water. The boat is a real mess.”

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