A part of the ‘Spirit of Qatar’ can be seen off the coast of Clearwater ahead of the 33rd Annual Key West Super Boat World Championships set to take place in Florida from November 6 to 10. Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani and arch American rival Marc Granet are counting the days to their potentially explosive showdown.
DOHA: Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al Thani and arch American rival Marc Granet are counting the days to their potentially explosive showdown at the three-race 33rd Annual Key West Super Boat World Championships, taking place in Florida from November 6 to 10.
If the first thrilling duel between the two arch rivals in Clearwater was anything to go by, the two offshore racers are set to thrill thousands of fans present in Key West and many more watching Super Boat International’s (SBI) live web streaming with some side-by-side on-water racing at break-neck speeds.
It is advantage Qatar in the psychological stakes after the first round.
Sheikh Hassan and Steve Curtis took to the water for the second time in their turbine-engined Al-Adaa’am 96 (Spirit of Qatar) off the coast of Clearwater and Al-Adaa’am 96 swapped the lead with Granet and Scott Begovich in Miss Geico for the opening few turns with both boats even making physical contact at one point.
The turbine boat seemed to hold the upper hand down the straights, but a determined start by Granet and Begovich ensured that the duel was the highlight of the Clearwater weekend until the Americans spun out of contention on lap three and left the door open for the Qatar Marine Sports Federation-backed Spirit of Qatar Team to power through to the chequered flag.
Bruised, but even more determined to exact revenge on his Qatari rival, Granet has not been backed into a corner and is determined to come out fighting in a bid to exact revenge and win the first of the three Key West races on November 6.
“We know that Marc will come out fighting,” Sheikh Hassan said.
“But we have more to give and will test again in Key West to make sure that we are fully prepared. This is a three-race format, so we need to make sure that we make no mistakes in the first one to give us the best chance for the final race (November 10). I am sure that is the same for everyone.
“Marc is the big target. We are sure to be racing against each other in that important final race and there is so much at stake. Steve and I won the Key West World Championships last year and that is our goal again.”
Marc Granet is also relishing the contest.
“When you are on top, you always have a target on your back. At Team USA we are used to it! Last year’s race was a great window into the intense action between the teams,” he said. “With another 1000hp each packed into our boats, this year’s competition will be even faster. We have been testing for two weeks and have two more tests before the first race in Key West. We have fresh power and a plan that we will execute with military-like precision.
“Sheikh Hassan forgets we have more seat time in racing a turbine Mystic offshore boat than anyone. We know its strengths and its weaknesses. We’ll use that knowledge to go after the ultimate offshore trophy – first overall, Top Gun, in Key West!”