All set to race

Nine teams, 20 drivers plus technicians and support staff from 12 countries will descend on Amaravati, the new capital of Andhra Pradesh, to compete in the UIM F1H2O Grand Prix, the world’s foremost international series of single-seater inshore circuit powerboat racing on the River Krishna.

Excitement is palpable a week ahead of the competition organised by the Union Internationale Motonautique and promoted by H2O Racing. This is the first international water sport event being hosted by the State. The F1H2O is a multiple Grand Prix series of eight events taking place in Europe and Asia. The adrenaline-pumping battle will feature teams from Amaravati (India), along with seven other major cities around the globe, including from Portugal, the UK, France, Italy, China and UAE.

The global sporting event is making a comeback to India after a gap of 14 years. The last Indian edition was held in Mumbai in 2004 and won by Francesco Cantando of Italy.

The organisers are currently clearing the race site. The ground is being cleared, levelled and asphalted for creation of the paddock area, where the racing teams will have their workshops. “It’s about time such sporting events came to countries like India, as there is adequate infrastructure here for people to engage in all kinds of extreme adventure,” says Marco Pietrini, Director, Logistics, F1H2O World Championship.

The Andhra Pradesh Tourism Authority (APTA) and India Xtreme of Malaxmi Group, a local firm that organises sporting activities, are playing key roles. A coordination committee from key departments was formed to ensure the success of the event. A district-level committee representing officials of 30 departments is constantly working to ensure that contingency plans are in place. A large crowd is expected and the State is taking all-out efforts to promote Amaravati as an international tourist destination. The F1H2O championship began in Portugal on May 18 and will end in Sharjah on December 15.

The AP Tourism officials sprang a surprise by announcing at a press conference that Amaravati will also pitch its own Team Amaravati, which made a début in China at the Agile Grand Prix in Xiangyang, on September 23, claiming 39 laps by racer Jonas Andersson, who clinched fourth spot.

“In the world championship standings, Team Amaravati stands third, with teams from Abu Dhabi and CTIC F1 Shenzhen, China, claiming number 1 and 2 spots,” says Himanshu Shukla, CEO, APTA, pointing to the F1H2O flag officially handed over to Team Amaravati in China, a gesture to indicate that the championship was being taken to Krishna waters.

“The 23-km stretch will turn into a carnival site with a host of activities,” said Sandeep Mandava, CEO, India Xtreme of Malaxmi Group.

The Tourism wing has set up viewing galleries near Punnami Ghat, and the Prakasam Barrage will be closed during the three-day event, turning it into a makeshift viewpoint for spectators.

People here can’t wait to see the thrilling high-speed action by diminutive catamarans flying across water to enter hairpin turns at a lightning speed.