It's November, deep into football season and just before the holidays.
But unless you're a serious boat racing fan, you may be surprised to know that the season for the American Boat Racing Association for unlimited hydroplanes isn't over just yet.
The Oryx Cup Union Internationale Motonautique (UIM) World Championship is set to run Nov. 19-21 in Doha, Qatar.
The boats -- 10 of them -- are already there.
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The boats, their trailers and team trucks were all transported by cargo ship out of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., on Sept. 28. Thirty-seven days and 7,671 miles later, they arrived in Qatar and passed through customs.
This will be the first time the unlimiteds will run outside of North America.
What has been talked about for years, a race in the Middle East, looks like it's becoming a reality -- especially when Sheikh Hassan bin Jabor Al-Thani, president of the Qatar Marine Sports Federation, came to Seattle in August to sign the final papers to approve the race.
"For the (U-1 Oh Boy! Oberto) team, when we met Sheikh Hassan, then it became real," said Oberto driver Steve David. "The guy's a gearhead. That's when we knew this is gonna be real."
Sheikh Hassan also races boats.
David, who drove the Oberto to the Lamb Weston Columbia Cup title in July on the Columbia River, leads the national high points race with 6,590 points.
Jeff Bernard and the U-5 Formulaboats.com are second at 6,374, and Dave Villwock and the U-16 Miss Elam Plus are third at 5,910.
So the battle for the title remains tight.
But there is something bigger about this race.
A good showing in Doha could mean added races in the Middle East or Europe -- or both.
"A few years back we had some well-heeled teams," said Villwock. "But we don't have that anymore. If we do a good job in this foreign land, and we put on a good show, make some friends, make some corporate friends, I think we'll be able to springboard this into something bigger."
"This could really offer the sport a huge future," said David. "Especially for the younger drivers. So we need to be great ambassadors when we're there."
The defending national champion is taking that role seriously. He's been learning Arabic, and he's also scheduled to speak to U.S. troops and cultural attaches while there.
"This thing is big," David said. "I just hope I don't mangle their language."
As for the race, most teams will fly out of the United States next Monday. Two Miss Elam crew members have been in Doha preparing all 10 of the hydroplanes for racing.
"The boats are ready to go in the pit area," said Villwock.
That includes the Miss Elam, which Villwock flipped in Evansville in August and broke a finger (now healed).
The bigger adjustment might be the saltwater on Doha Bay.
"Saltwater is 50 percent more dense (than river water)," said Villwock. "That's strike one. Strike two is this will be a 2-mile course, and we haven't run something that short in a long time. There will be a lot more salt in the air."
Which is another problem, said David.
"The saltwater hangs in the air, and we'll be running into it," said David. "So we need to have filters (for the motors)."
But everyone seems to be confident things will go well.
"All teams have been well prepared," said David.
NOTES: Because of the time difference, while the event begins on Thursday, Nov. 19, in Qatar, it will actually be 10:30 p.m. Wednesday, Nov. 18, here when testing begins. The final heat will run at 5 a.m. PST Saturday. ... The ABRA will have live feeds on its website during the event. ... The Unlimited Hydroplane Museum is holding a slumber party at its building on the final day of racing. ... In addition to the U-1 Oberto (David), the U-5 Formulaboats.com (Bernard) and the U-16 Elam (Villwock), other teams attending are the U-7 Graham Trucking (J.Michael Kelly), the U-17 Our Gang Racing (Nate Brown), the U-22 Matrix System Automotive Finishes (Mike Webster), the U-25 Superior Racing (Ken Muscatel), the U-37 Miss Peters & May (Jean Theoret), the U-48 Go Fast Turn Left Racing (Brian Perkins), and the U-100 Leland Unlimited (Greg Hopp). Only the U-3 piston-powered Coopers team isn't attending, because of extreme damage suffered in Evansville in August.