Sheikh Nawaf bin Hassan Al-Thani, the 12-year-old son of Qatar Marine Sports Federation (QMSF) president His Excellency Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, led 14 other junior racers on to Doha Bay for the first official practice session in their new J Stock Hydro boats on Sunday morning.
Sheikh Hassan is keen to see youngsters graduating through the ranks of power boating and it was an emotional moment for the reigning Key West World Champion to see his son lead a group of young racing rivals out to test their J Stock Hydros on a short Doha Bay course.
“It is vital that we continue to nurture and encourage young drivers to take up the sport of power boat racing,” said Sheikh Hassan. “This concept will go a long way to getting the wheels in motion. We have this training school now for our youngsters and it is a fantastic opportunity for them to race here in full view of the media and all the drivers and officials who are visiting us from the world of hydroplane racing and H1 Unlimited.”
The J Stock Hydro category has been a traditional starting point for many renowned powerboat racers. Top H1 Unlimited driver J. Michael Kelly cut his teeth racing in this discipline and former H1 racer J.W. Myers has also used them to his advantage.
The six boats present in Qatar have been built in the USA by J.W. Myers. The youngsters are being led into action by Sheikh Nawaf bin Hassan Al-Thani and his two cousins Sheikh Jassim bin Jabor bin Yousef Al-Thani and Sheikh Ali bin Mohammed Al-Thani.
Also taking part for Qatar are Tameem Saed El-Kouwary, Abdelrahman Khaled Al-Kouwary, Abdelrahman Khalifa El-Khlefe, Mohammed Khalifa El-Khlefe and Ahmed Khalifa El-Khlefe.
Young Egyptians Ammar Abdul Montaleb and Tariq Amed Sayed, Canadian Yazan Deeb, the Jordanian trio of Kinan Ahmed Qassem, Ali Mohammed Qassem and Yamen Bilal Safadi and Palestine’s Firas Kousay Abouyoussef complete the impressive young driver line-up. England’s rising junior star Ben Jelf, a four-time RYA British champion, was also on hand to pass on any needed advice and support to the debutants.
Powered by outboard 15hp engines, the J Stock hulls are capable of approximately 40mph in restricted form. The driver has to kneel down to control the steering and throttle controls.
“When young kids look at starting out in this sport, this is often the way they go,” said H1 Unlimited media guru and commentator Steve Montgomery. “The whole idea started in Qatar when Dave Holley (Peters & May shipping sponsor) spoke to young Sheikh Nawaf and mentioned that he could be racing as well. The deal was put together soon afterwards and here we are with some of the boats being shipped and used in Qatar.”
The youngsters will complete their first-ever racing programme on Tuesday morning during Qatar National Sports Day and before the staging of the fourth H1 Unlimited heats and the Oryx Cup UIM World Championship final, which take place on Tuesday afternoon.
By Neil Perkins – QMSF Publicity
Photos by Bill Osborne – H1
Photos from Day 2 – H1