Entering its sixth year, Union International Motonautique’s XCAT offshore racing series is coming to the U.S. for the first time. The series, which has events this year in China, Switzerland, Italy, Dubai, and other venues will come to Daytona Beach, Fla., April 11-13. (The season-opener in Dubai produced top three finishes for the Dubai-based Victory team.)
"The most important thing is racing, and with XCAT racing that's what you get—a real professional race with evenly matched competition in a single class design," said Gary Ballough, a U.S.-based racer who has competed in the XCAT Series since it began. "If you are used to going to other venues and not knowing what you just witnessed other than a boat parade, with XCAT we promise you a race. Whether it's for first or and second place or positions eight through fourteen, there's a race going on between fierce competitors who are committed and contracted to the XCAT Worlds Series."
In XCAT competition, competitors run canopied catamarans from 28 to 32 feet with twin Mercury outboard engines that power the boats to top speeds of 120 mph. At present, there are 14 teams representing 13 countries competing on the XCAT tour. Each cat is manned by a driver and a throttleman who controls the boat’s drive and trim angles.
"I'm so happy to be a part of this series—this is the premier powerboat racing in the world, and it's growing," said Jay Price, another American competitor, who throttles for the Skydive Dubai team. "Now we're going to be racing in America; I haven't been racing in American for 20 years while I've been racing everywhere else. Fans in the U.S. are going to see that XCAT is a second-to-none series with match races and a grand prix of 15 closely matched boats. It is so exciting."
The Daytona Beach XCAT race will happen on the same day as the Super Boat International offshore racing season-opener in Charlotte Harbor, Fla. At press time, it was not known whether Stock class race teams—Stock class is SBI’s domestic equivalent of XCAT—would be allowed to participate in the XCAT Daytona Beach event. Said Stock class veteran Ryan Beckley of Sarasota, Fla., “I sent an email to UIM about it but I have not heard anything back yet.”