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Powerboat racers get psyched up.

Powerboat drivers may have to undergo mental fitness tests as part of their qualifications if a new set of recommendations is adopted by the emirate's marine authorities.

The move is aimed at enhancing the safety of powerboat racing and improving the drivers' focus while they are participating in the sport.

"Water racing requires maximum attention due to the various difficult manoeuvres involved," said Bob Wortinger, a powerboat safety campaigner and former president of the Safety and Medical Commission of the Union of International Motorboating (UIM).

"The racer has to be physically and mentally sound."

"Drivers who use substances that affect their levels of concentration should not be allowed to race as this puts their lives at risk." Wortinger said that powerboat racers should be able to balance aggressiveness with a strong mind, adding mental fitness tests have had success in reducing water racing fatalities in Europe. Wortinger, who has been working with the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) to conduct a safety audit of powerboat racing in the emirate, commended the safety standards set by DIMC as some of the best in the world.

Talking to 7DAYS at a safety and performance seminar for powerboat racing at the Dubai Boat Show, Wortinger recommended the formation of rehabilitation programmes to help racers who have survived accidents return to the game.

Sid BenSalah, sports director at DIMC, said that while physical tests are part of the requirements for a racer to obtain a licence, mental tests would help to weed out drivers who are not deemed capable.

He added DIMC would soon make it a requirement for all licence applicants to possess an open water diving certificate.

"In case of flip accidents, racers who do not have any diving experience panic when water enters the cockpit. Licenced racers should also be certified divers," said BenSalah, adding many accidents result in fatalities.


A number of improvements have been made to ensure safety on the water during races since two professional racers died when their boat flipped over during the Emirates/Dubai Duty Free Class 1 Grand Prix in 2009. Sid BenSalah, sports director at Dubai International Marine Club, said that although the circumstances of the accident were unique, a number of initiatives geared towards improvements in technology, enforcement of safety rules and education have been implemented. There have been no fatalities in all similar crashes since.


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Publication:7 Days (Dubai, United Arab Emirates)
Date:Mar 15, 2012
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