The Victory Team duo of Salem Al Adidi and Essa Al Ali led the Dubai boat to an exciting second place in the opening round of the ABPA Offshore Championship Series on Cocoa Beach, Florida, late on Sunday.
Competing in Victory Team’s Boat No.3, Al Adidi and Al Ali held on against steadily increasing winds, huge waves and chasing competitors to end with a safe second position and open their account for the new season.
Termed ‘Thunder on Cocoa Beach’, the opening race of the 2019 season saw the young Victory Team duo battle veterans James Sheppard and Steve Curtis in their Miss Geico boat to ultimately nestle into second place and pick up crucial points. 222 Offshore, with Darren Nicholson and Giovanni Carpitella on board came in third, while Lucas Oil struggled to take fourth place.
“I think this was the best we could have done given the circumstances that we were racing under. We had a field of experienced former world champions from around the world to face, and secondly, Eisa and I were making our debut in a Class 1 boat. So to get our first points together as a team is a matter of great joy and happiness for us,” Al Adidi related from Cocoa Beach.
“We were actually starved for time spent together in a boat coming into this race, and the only advantage we had was that we are friends and know each other’s minds. That combination ultimately proved to be crucial in getting our first points of the season,” he added.
It was Giovanni Carpitella-driven 222 Offshore boat heading straight into the lead on the opening lap. However, Al Adidi and Al Ali slowly made their way and overtook the Australian boat from the inside to stay in front for most of the lap. However, it was then that Curtis and Sheppard made their move as they barged in to overtake from the outside on the second lap to never look behind after that till the end of the total nine-lap race.
“We had promised to put up a fight and I think we did well today to get our first points on the board in our first race together,” Al Adidi said.
“We are very happy with such a fine result as this has come up competing against some of the top world champions of our sport. Besides, others will now take notice of Victory Team and know that we mean business. Of course, with another five races still to go, this is going to be a long season and we will have enough time experience to mount a serious challenge for the title,” Al Adidi mulled.
Throttleman Al Ali enjoyed his teammate’s company and the huge learning curve that they are going through as a brand-new team. “We think we could have got a better result had we pushed harder. But then, there was always the chance of losing the boat, and this is something that we never wanted to happen as we have only a few days before the next round,” Al Ali narrated.
“Naturally, Geico will be the one to beat as they have so much of experience after competing for more than 100 races each. Our job now is to continue focus on the task at hand when we proceed to next weekend’s Lake Race,” he added.
The second round of the ABPA Offshore Championship Series will be held at Camden on the Lake Ozark from May 30 to June 2.
Asma Hinawi is the Head of Marketing and Sales for the Victory Team.