Warren's Story (1993)

Dubai's First Inflatable Powerboat Offshore Race

.... at Chicago Beach Hotel

I raced Inflatable Offshore Powerboats in the Gemini Marine Team when I was based in Cape Town South Africa. My Co-Pilot and I were in the top five racing Teams. Gemini Marine were Inflatable Boat Manufacturers and, in 1993, invited by Dubai International Marine Club to send a Team to Dubai to participate in a series of International Offshore Inflatable Powerboat Races.
We stayed at the Chicago Beach Hotel. Each day we traveled to the Dubai International Marine Club (DIMC) in Mina Seyahi where our boats where moored. I remember there was very little between DIMC and Chicago Beach Hotel apart from some Kebab shops. We got to sample their food every day! Only facility on Dubai Creek was the newly opened Dubai Creek Yacht and Golf Club. We had a lot of fun exploring up and down Dubai's coast in our boats. Races were held offshore from the Chicago Beach Hotel. They had a large grand stand erected and the races were televised throughout the UAE and even in UK and other Gulf countries I heard.
Rais Hassan Saadi and Col Hareb took us out for dinner after we won and then took all the competitors on a dhow after dinner. During the month we spent in Dubai there were many US Military in Dubai as they had been involved in removing Saddam Hussein from Kuwait and and the problems in Somalia. There were about 6 or 7 large US Navy ships in Jebel Ali Port. All this meant we could not get into good establishments like the Hyatt Regency Hotel as security thought we were American Servicemen. Apparently only Officers were allowed into these upmarket venues! However we did get to regularly enjoy Chicago Beach Hotel's Night Club.
I often visit Dubai these days and love to see how Dubai has changed from as it used to be. Dubai shows what man is capable of when there are the means and the will to get things done!
These are my newspaper clippings from 1993.

Warren Duncan
Sydney Australia

Khaleej Times, Saturday, May 22, 1993

The Winners Warren Duncan and Greg Dreyer and (right) the Zapcats in action. The Rais Hassan supported Zapcat Inflatable Boat Races held at the Chicago Beach Hotel yesterday was good entertainment, although an attempt on the World Speed Record had to be postponed due to poor water conditions. The visiting Crews from South Africa then applied themselves to a series of races. Henning Blaaw and Albert Lombard in boat number one took the first race followed home by Duncan and Dreyer. The Duncan/Dreyer combination in the Chicago Beach Hotel sponsored boat took the next heat and the final race to take the day's overall honours. Duncan and Dreyer finished with 24 points followed by Blaaw and Lombard (21) and Ball and Coetzee (9). At the end of the event prizes were presented to the participants by Brig Saif Al Shaffar and Colonel Saeed Hareb of the Dubai International Marine Club. - KT Photos by Oswald Rodrigues


Winner Warren Duncan and his co-pilot Greg Dreyer receiving their Trophy from Brig Saif Al Shaffar and (below) the race is on Chicago Beach Hotel yesterday.

Great action but no record

Warren Duncan and Co-Pilot Greg Dreyer win first Inflatable Boat Race

By A Sports Reporter

Warren Duncan and co-pilot Greg Dreyer won the first Inflatable Boat Race held at Chicago Beach Hotel area to bag a cash prize of DH 30,000. They totalled 24 points if the four lap race.
Warren and Greg handled their craft with great skill over the waves. In second place were Henning Blaaw and Albert Lombard with 21 points to win DH 20,000 in their boat No.1.
Lionel Ball and co-pilot Francois Coetze were Third and took home DH 10,000 with 8 points.
The world speed record for the P750 inflatable boats scheduled to be held yesterday did not take place as the waves were too high and strong. The event is now scheduled to be held at a later date.
After the race Warren said he had struggled very hard against the choppy waves, which they were unaccustomed to back home in South Africa. He however said " I enjoyed the race and I am already looking forward to my next visit.
Runner up Henning Blaaw said he was disappointed in not coming first. "I enjoyed the race and that is what matters most."
Brig Saif Al Shaffar and Col Saeed Hareb gave away the prizes. The two representatives of the Dubai Marine Club, organisers of the event, pointed out that the boats used for the races were absolutely safe. "We will not hesitate to introduce these boats for future races" they said.
A large crowd on the hotel grounds plus those on the public beach were treated to a water sports which have never seen in the Middle East before.
After the disappointment of the record attempt, the visiting crew from South Africa applied themselves to a series of races which were held in the afternoon bringing the large crowd to its feet with amazement.