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Team UAE leads UIM H2O Nations Cup from Team Russia and Team Australia

Rashed Al-Qamzi and Rashed Al-Tayer are well poised to give Team UAE victory in the UIM H2O Bund Holding Group Nations Cup for a record fourth time after Al-Qamzi beat Team Australia’s Brock Cohen in a gripping Match Race final and Al-Tayer was eliminated by his team-mate in the quarter finals of the opening racing encounters on Shanghai’s Dishui Lake on Wednesday afternoon.

Team Australia’s rookie Brock Cohen faced Al-Qamzi in the Match Race final for the gold medal and the Emirati made a superb start in heat one to take a one-nil lead. The Team UAE driver maintained his composure to secure a two-nil win and his first ever Match Race victory at the UIM H2O Nations Cup.

With points awarded for each racing discipline over two days, Team Russia are just one point behind Team UAE, courtesy of having two drivers in the last four of the Match Races. Andrey Panyushkin faced Roman Vandyshev in the contest to determine third place and the final position on the podium, with Panyushkin benefiting from his team-mate’s disqualification in heat one to snatch third place, 2-0.

Al-Tayer and Al-Qamzi were drawn together in their quarterfinal heat in Al-Qamzi’s fourth UIM Nations Cup meeting and Al-Qamzi took advantage of a mistake by his team-mate in heat two to reach the semi-final where he met pole position winner Vandyshev of Team Russia.

Al-Qamzi was deemed to have jump-started the opening heat and this handed a 1-0 lead to Vandyshev in the semi-final. The Russian made a good start in heat two, but Al-Qamzi produced a solid display of boat control to level with victory in heat two and won the decider to book his place in the final.

Cohen lined up with Panyushkin in the first of the Match Race semi-finals. The Russian won heat one, but was edged out of a thrilling second heat by Cohen to force a decider that was taken by the Russian. But Panyushkin was disqualified for jumping the start and Cohen was handed his place in the final.

Salem Al-Romaithi, assistant general manager of the Abu Dhabi International Marine Sports Club (ADIMSC) said;

This was a superb start to the UIM H2O Nations Cup by Team UAE and perfect foundations to build on for the two races on Thursday. It was a pity that both our drivers lined up together and that prevented both of them having the opportunity to reach the Match Race final.

Match Races heats

Sixteen races were planned and Andrey Panyushkin was first on the water against Team China’s Ni Haojun, although the Russian took the heat comfortably to progress to the quarterfinals. Jorn Lassig stole a march on Ziwei Xiong in an exciting opening heat in race two, only for the regular UIM F1 H2O driver from China to snatch heat two, although both drivers had incurred lane violations in heat one and Xiong progressed to the last eight.

Only Roberto Lo Piano represented Team Italy after Stefani Paoletti suffered passport issues and was not able to travel to Shanghai. Do Piano lost out to Scott Gillman in race three after a poor start to heat one, but the manager of the Emirates Racing Team was disqualified from the heat. Gillman levelled, however, and went on to win the decider.

Nineteen-year-old Australian Brock Cohen lined up against veteran American Jay Price in race four, but issues with a broken throttle cable forced Price to miss the heat and Cohen progressed to the last eight with a mandatory single heat. Al-Tayer lined up with Alffian Kadri in the next race and a great start for Al-Tayer gave the Emirati a 1-0 lead. The Team UAE made no mistake in a closer second heat to progress to the last eight.

Al-Qamzi was paired with Corey Davoll in the penultimate first round race and the Emirati beat the 26-year-old Australian by four boat lengths in heat one. Al-Qamzi jump-started the second heat and that set up an unlikely decider that the Emirati snatched to progress to the last eight. Dieter Kaiser got the better of Mohammad Kadry in the last first round race, after Kadry spun out of heat one and both drivers were disqualified from heat two.

Pole winner Roman Vandyshev got a bye into the quarterfinals in the absence of a second Team Italy driver.

Panyushkin lined up with Ziwei Xiong in the first of the quarterfinal races and won the opening heat and a tight second to move into the last four. Cohen took on Gillman in the second quarterfinal and the American claimed a close opening heat, but a mistake by Gillman gave Cohen a lifeline with victory in heat two to level and the youngster took his chance to edge Gillman out of the decider.

Both Team UAE drivers were drawn together in a tense third quarterfinal and Al-Qamzi edged a nail biting first heat to snatch the advantage. Al-Tayer made a small mistake in the second heat and Al-Qamzi progressed to the semi-final. Vandyshev got the better of Kaiser to complete the semi-final line-up, despite a jumpstart in the second heat that forced a decider.

Time trials

All 15 drivers entered the opening Q1 session that ran for 20 minutes and eliminated five of the boats. Team Australia’s Corey Davoll topped the times with a lap of 44.35 seconds to beat Team Germany’s Jorn Lassig by 0.16 seconds.

Team UAE’s Al-Tayer and Al-Qamzi made it safely into Q2 and the final 10 in with times of 44.91 seconds and 44.71 seconds. Team China’s Ni Haojun and Ziwei Xiong were eliminated, alongside Roberto Do Piano of Team Italy, Dietmar Kaiser of Team Germany and Alffian Kadry of Team Malaysia.

The Q2 session of 15 minutes whittled the runners down to five for the final Q3 stint. Team USA’s Jay Price was the only driver to break the 44-second barrier with a time of 43.66 seconds and he was followed into Q3 by Roman Vandyshev, Davoll, Lassig, Mohammed Kadri of Team Malaysia and multiple UIM F1 H2O World Champion Scott Gillman. Both the Team UAE boats failed to make Q3 after posting times of 44.65 seconds and 45.47 seconds and that meant Al-Tayer and Al-Qamzi qualified in seventh and 10th positions.

Vandyshev went on to win a nail biting 10-minute Q3 session with a lap of 43.69 seconds to claim prime seeding for the Match Race, with Price, Davoll, Lassig, Kadri and Gillman rounding off the top five.

Wednesday morning’s qualifying was followed by the Match Race, with two boats racking against each other on an alternate course with pairings decided by the qualifying times. Al-Tayer and Al-Qamzi only ran for eight and 13 laps respectively in the practice session, but that was sufficient for the Team UAE duo to card the second and fourth quickest times behind Team Russia’s Roman Vandyshev.

Strong winds prevented the eight teams from taking to the water for free practice on Dishui Lake on Tuesday and both sessions were cancelled. Teams were given 30 minutes running under yellow flag conditions to go out and shakedown their allotted boats and familiarise themselves with the four-pin, 1.8km course.

There will be two races to determine the winners of the UIM H2O Bund Holding Group Nations Cup on Thursday.

Race one gets underway at 05.30hrs GMT and the second race fires into life two hours later at 07.30hrs GMT.

UIM H2O Bund Holding Group Nations Cup – Match Race result

1. Rashed Al-Qamzi (Team UAE) 25 pts

2. Brock Cohen (Team Australia) 22 pts

3. Andrei Panyushkin (Team Russia) 20 pts

4. Roman Vandyshev (Team Russia) 18 pts

5. Dieter Kaiser (Team Germany) ` 16 pts

6. Scott Gillman (Team USA) 15 pts

7. Rashed Al-Tayer (Team UAE) 14 pts

8. Xiong Ziwei (Team China) 13 pts

9. Jay Price (Team USA) 12 pts

10. Corey Davoll (Team Australia) 11 pts

11. Jorn Lassig (Team Germany) 9 pts

12. Mohammad Affendey Kadri (Team Malaysia) 8 pts

13. Roberto do Piano (Team Italy) 7 pts

14. Alffian Kadri (Team Malaysia) 6 pts

15. Ni Haojun (Team China) 5 pts

UIM H2O Bund Holding Group Nations Cup – current positions (unofficial):

1. Team UAE 39 pts

2. Team Russia 38 pts

3. Team Australia 33 pts

4. Team USA 27 pts

5. Team Germany 25 pts

6. Team China 18 pts

7. Team Malaysia 14 pts

8. Team Italy 7 pts

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