Sport | Sailing

Twin deaths cast gloom over UAE powerboat fraternity

The Victory 1 boat flipped after hitting a wave on the fifth lap, killing riders

  • by Alaric Gomes, Senior Reporter, Gulf News
  • Published: 00:00 December 12, 2009
  • Gulf News

December 11, 2009
  • Image Credit: Supplied
  • Mohammad Bin Majid Al Muhairi and Jean-Marc Sanchez died in an accident during the 2009 UIM/WPPA Class One World Powerboat Championship in the UAE
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Dubai: A pall of gloom descended on the watersports fraternity here as the Victory 1 pairing of Mohammad Bin Majid Al Muhairi and Jean-Marc Sanchez were pronounced dead after being air-lifted to Rashid Hospital following an incident in the Emirates/Dubai Duty Free Class 1 Grand Prix here on Friday.

"We lost both our pilots in today's crash. Safety boats rushed to the site and attended to both of them, after which they were airlifted to hospital where the doctor pronounced them dead," Saeed Hareb, managing director, Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) and president of the World Professional Powerboat Association, told media.


The Victory 1 boat flipped after hitting a wave on the fifth lap and landed face down. It was travelling at around 180km/h. Rescue boats rushed to the scene and tried their best to pull the UAE driver and the French throttleman out.

Rescuers tried to resuscitate the pilots, but to no avail. Both were then air-lifted by helicopter to Rashid Hospital, where doctors examined them and pronounced them dead. "Both were part of our family and our deepest condolences to both their families," a choking Hareb said at the briefing.


Racing had taken off as usual despite the prevailing weather conditions. There was a little drizzle and gusts of winds off the Mina Seyahi waters.

At the time of the accident in the fifth lap, the world champion pairing of Arif Saif Al Zafein and Nader Bin Hindi in Fazza were clear leaders ahead of the Norwegian pairing of Kolbjorn O. Selmer and Jorn Tandberg on board Welmax, while Victory 1 was in third place.

Comments (8)

  1. Added 02:06 December 15, 2009

    I've raced (throttled) Super Cat & Super V for years here in the states - this is a very tragic, horrible accident. We all worry about a rear entry stuff exactly like this example where the boat blows over much like the Unlimited Hydroplanes do under speed because that rarely happens to the Offshore boats (I suspect this was a 40' Victory Boat which I believe is the old Tincarra molds branded Victory now). By watching the on-board it looks like they just came out of a turn, and the Throttleman was full throttle for about 8 seconds and Im guessing trimming the boat (positive trim) at least a little to make RPM and speed quickly - this would be when the nose was "light" and under full acceleration would magnify that condition. Again, just guessing but a rogue wave must have caught them off guard and it must have been a big one because its a big piece of equipment to blow over. There have been very few crashes in the sport where the accident results in a "rear entry canopy stuff" so we really dont have a lot to examine to improve the structure in that area and its had to see from the limited footage but it looks like the boat came completely apart in the tunnel - front bulkheads are gone and it looks like the rear is ripped off. The Victory team has been so committed to safety and they are so talented, the sport has lost tremendous compeittors - very sad

    Actual Racer, United States, United States

  2. Added 16:40 December 13, 2009

    Looks like the force of the contact collapsed the canopy resulting in major head trauma. There was a similar class 2 accident back in the mid 90s. Cnut was the guys name? No idea on the exact timeline but Mike Scully was still the F&B manager at the time and Sara cruised around on a pink harley.

    Mike, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  3. Added 14:40 December 13, 2009

    Such a tragic loss, the sea can be a such a dangerous place to be at times, greatest sympathy to the familys and friends of Mohammed and Jean, Big respect for the Lap of honour of which I was proud to be part of. R.I.P. Take care on the next race guys.

    Arron Perry, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

  4. Added 00:47 December 13, 2009

    i really wonder in such emergency case y the rally automatically stopped and y all this time is needed to get off the heroe's from the cabin?? serious investigation is reqiured-i guess-my condolence to the families of the heroes.

    nar, California, United States

  5. Added 19:41 December 12, 2009

    So very sad for everyone in the boating world. I agree with some of the other writers, the first boat on the scene just stood by and waited for another boat to help the drivers. They should have done something! Time was critical. It took too long to get them out. If they had been faster, maybe they could have been saved.

    Heartbroken, -, United States

  6. Added 19:00 December 12, 2009

    I've been watching powerboat racing all my life since the days of the famous Cowes-Torquay-Cowes days and unfortunately there has been disasters, the sea is a powerfull thing, it was very disturbing for me to watch the emergency crews actually get to the stricken boat and actually wait for the crew to open the emergency hatch on the underside of the boat, those guys should have been on that boat as soon as they arrived there and actually getting that hatch open themselves knowing only too well that the crew could have been knocked unconcious, timing is vital in emergencies. Class 1 powerboating is going to take a huge knock because of this, there will be an investigation as to weather the crew could have been reached QUICKER and at least given more oppotunity of survival, even in todays offshore racing where the courses are so close to the shoreline. I am deeply saddened by this incident and my sincere condolences go out to the families of the crew who perished.

    Mark Childs, Dubai , United Arab Emirates

  7. Added 15:39 December 12, 2009

    I really feel so sad about this tragedy.Precaution is a must.If the weather is bad then there's no reason to continue such event For safety reasons.

    Carlene, Al Ain, United Arab Emirates

  8. Added 12:25 December 12, 2009

    Very Sad & Frustrating After the Victory team's crash in 1995, and since those speed boats do flip over often, the drivers' cabin should have been designed to allow the drivers to easily release themselves and exit the cabin or at least it must allow for a quick & easy access for the emergency crew to reach & rescue the driveres. Instead, it took the emergency crew some time to get the drivers out of the cabin. I beleive that a serious investigaton must be conducted and the design of the driver's cabing must be modified. My sincere condolences to the families of both drivers. It's a sad day indeed.

    Feras Qassar, Dubai, United Arab Emirates

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