Toyota Al Sayer celebrate their victory
Al Sayer still kings of Raft Race Kuwait Sea Sports Club deny Lexus in Welded-Men

KUWAIT CITY, May 17: Toyota-Al Sayer outpaced all teams to win the ultimate trophy as eight teams battled one another and high tides at the Silver Jubilee edition of the annual Raft Race held on the beaches of Aqua Part Friday. But the weather generally was fine for the event to finish off without incident. Al Sayer also won the overall Jubilee Trophy which was awarded to them after they scored the highest marks in organization, timing and Raft design.

With the groups presenting Welded-Men and Welded-Mixed category teams, a snapshot of the first three winners is as follows:

Overall winners
* Al Sayer-Toyota-1st
* Kuwait Sea Sports Club-2nd
* Yokohama-3rd

Welded-Men winners
* Kuwait Sea Sports Club
* Al Sayer-Lexus
* Casper

Welded-Mixed winners
* Al Sayer-Toyota
* Yokohama

Al Sayer has ruled the top spot of the Raft Race for the last sixteen of its twenty five year existence. Speaking to the press after his team was awarded the trophy, the captain for the victorious Al Sayer team Dr. Khaled AlAnezi, said the competition for this year was particularly high due to the presence of new teams some of which entered the race with very young, energetic and competent racers.
He mentioned Kuwait Sea Club as an example of some of the teams that threatened and could continue to threaten Al Sayer’s dominance of the sport in future. As a counter measure, the Captain said his team will in future races make sure they have young and vibrant racers as well as better designed boats to maintain their edge. “You could see the difference between us and the other team, we’re always far ahead”, he noted. He however regretted the absence in the competition this year of the Welded-Women category.

For his part, Chief Operating Officer-COO for Al Sayer Group, Paul Reynolds, attributed his team’s long dominance of the sport to training, organization and teamwork. “You saw today even in adverse conditions, our team steered a straight course, they were planning it, they knew they had been practicing and that’s what makes a business work, that’s what makes a team win”.
Kuwait Sea Sports Club which fielded two teams in the Welded-Men and Welded-Mixed categories to participate for the first time in the race, finished in second place overall followed in third by Yokohama, another arm of Al Sayer.
The atmosphere at the event was carnival-like with the high-decibel music blasting and drowning out all other noises, topless men, women in bikinis, fully clad women as well as children and their parents enjoying the Navy-blue swimming pools as part of the annual event which has been a major internal tourist attraction in Kuwait for years. Brightly colored buoys were used this time around to clearly mark out lanes for the competing teams to avoid collisions on the tracks.

In the first of the six-stage race for the Welded-Men and Welded-Mixed categories, Toyota finished first in the Welded-Mixed category followed by ABB in second place and Yokohama third. In round two which was also in the Welded-Men category, Kuwait Sea Sports Club clinched the first position, followed by Lexus in second place and Casper third. But in the third round which again saw the Kuwait Sea Sports Club top the pack, the Casper and Discovery teams were almost blown adrift by the high tides and it took some hard rowing by team members to be able to steer their rafts back into course to finish the race.

The Kuwait Agricultural company team contested in only the Welded-Men category in round five which saw ABB top the group. ABB finished second in the round. Toyota again topped the round-four group with ABB taking round five.  Yokohama won the sixth and final round whereas the grand finale was won by Toyota-Al Sayer after a fierce competition with two Kuwait Sea Sports Club teams. The ABB team captain Naeem attributed the team’s low performance to the unusually high tides in the water.

All teams were presented trophies and plaques of appreciation by Aqua Par officials led by Sales Director Mohammed AlEnezi. Sponsors who were also acknowledged and awarded include Sultan Center, Sebamed, Coca-Cola, Future Kid, Mu’jiza Al-Shifaa and Discovery. The event is the 25th edition in its history and the 10th to be organized and staged at the Aqua Park since it was transferred from the Messila Beach where it first started many years ago. The Park, inaugurated in 1995, covers an area of 64,000 square meters and provides sports and entertainment-related activities for all age groups, especially during the summer period. Situated on the Arabian Gulf Street adjacent to the Kuwait towers, it is the first and the biggest water Park in the Arab Gulf Region.

By Iddris Seidu
Arab Times Staff

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