Official News Release: ABRA to race in Qatar


His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani tries out the cockpit of the
U-16 Unlimited Hydroplane. PHOTO: Ned Dawson.

His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani and American Boat Racing Association (ABRA) chairman Sam Cole have signing a contract that will bring 10 unlimited hydroplanes – the fastest boats in the world – to Qatar in November.

Sheikh Hassan and Qatari racing colleague Abdullah Al-Sulaiti have been in Seattle over the last few days to witness the action at the Seattle Seafair Chevrolet Cup ABRA Unlimited Hydroplane race.

On Sunday, during the race, Sheikh Hassan signed an agreement on behalf of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) to host the final round of the 2009 series in Doha on November 12th-14th. The meeting will be known as the Oryx Cup World Championship.

“Sam Cole from the ABRA racing series visited our Class One race in Doha in April and we discussed the possibility and logistics of bringing this exciting form of power boat racing to the Middle East,” enthused Sheikh Hassan.

“I have been over in Washington State this week to meet the people involved in the championship. I was also given a ride in one of the boats that are used to gain an idea of how they compare with our Class One boats. It was a fantastic experience. This is a sport which we are looking forward to bringing back to Doha in November.”

Sheikh Hassan joined Larry Fuller from the Hydroplane and Raceboat Museum and also had a ride in Miss Wahoo - a legendary U-77 hydroplane race hull – on Lake Washington during the Seattle Seafair round of the series on Saturday.

"This is a tremendous opportunity for our sport,” said Cole. “Being able to bring the fastest racing boats in the world to Doha is an honour. We truly appreciate Sheikh Hassan's confidence in our sport and look forward to a magnificent World Championship event this November. It is our goal to make Qatar the international capital of unlimited hydroplane racing as we journey abroad."

Unlimited hydroplanes have fewer restrictions than limited hydroplanes. The 28-foot, 6,000lb boats run primarily with a T-55 L7 turbine, which has been used in military helicopter design for many years. Hydroplanes of this nature use around 4.1 gallons of fuel per minute, develop approximately 2,500 horse power and reach speeds in excess of 200mph.

Hydroplane racing is sanctioned by the American Power Boat Association (APBA) and the UIM. Six of the existing race sites in the United States have hosted hydroplane racing for more than 30 years, although the inclusion of the Qatar race for the first time is a major step forward for championship organisers, who are planning to expand the series across Asia and the Middle East in the future.