World title for Harib and Nasser

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The Independent Online

The dramatic landscape and cultural traditions of Arabia provided a colourful backdrop to yesterday's Fujairah Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the UIM Class One World Offshore Championship. A partisan crowd turned out in their tens of thousands to line the beaches and breakwaters of the Fujairah Corniche, on the Gulf of Oman, to watch a dramatic race and cheer on the three-boat Victory team from the neighbouring Emirate of Dubai.

The dramatic landscape and cultural traditions of Arabia provided a colourful backdrop to yesterday's Fujairah Grand Prix, the penultimate round of the UIM Class One World Offshore Championship. A partisan crowd turned out in their tens of thousands to line the beaches and breakwaters of the Fujairah Corniche, on the Gulf of Oman, to watch a dramatic race and cheer on the three-boat Victory team from the neighbouring Emirate of Dubai.

Run in blistering temperatures in the mid-nineties and rough seas, Khalfan Harib and Ali Nasser, in Victory 1, stormed to their fifth win of the season and the world title. Despite a cautious start and lying second to their team-mates, Saeed Al Tayer and Mohammed Al Marri, in Victory 7, they eventually took the lead on the final circuit to complete a 12-lap course of 122 nautical miles in 1hr 23min, at an average speed of 99.81mph, ahead of Victory 7.

Harib and Nasser's nearest rivals for the overall title, Britain's Steve Curtis and Norway's Bjorn Gjelsten, who won Thursday's Time Trial, saw their title hopes disappear when they were forced to retire on lap six with Norway suffering engine problems. It was a bitter blow for the Anglo-Norwegian pairing, who had led the race for the opening laps.

With the Victory boats enjoying a private battle at the front of the fleet, the conditions took their toll on the chasing pack with seven of the original 13 starters forced out with structural damage or engine problems. Leading the chase, the Norwegians Andreas Ugland and Jann Hillestad, in Jotun, completed the podium line-up, collecting their second top-three finish of the season.

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