By: Scott Way
The blonde car celeb recently test drove what's been declared the 'World's Fastest Police Boat.' We caught up with her to hear how driving a speedboat differs from a sportscar, what boating culture is like in Dubai and the UAE, and what other aquatic adventures might be in store.
Alex Hirschi, better known as Supercar Blondie, is no stranger to speed. She's driven the fastest cars the world has to offer, and her affable personality and penchant for speed has translated into one of the world's largest social media followings. As a supercar fanatic, she travels the world driving the latest 4-wheel phenomena while exploring the limits of automotive technology. Her massive Facebook and YouTube audience follows in earnest to see the latest in the supercar world and, naturally, just how fast it will go. Having driven the world's coolest cars, to some of the weirdest, she knows her way around high end vehicles.
Recently, she stepped off the dock to test something outside the usual Bugatti or Lamborghini: a 700 HP carbon fiber XCAT, also known as the 'World's Fastest Police Boat.'
A gift to the Dubai Police from Dubai Crown Prince Sheik Hamdan, the 2014 700 hp XCAT is a $400,000 speedboat powered by twin outboard four-stroke 350 hp Mercury engines with a top speed over 100 mph. The Dubai Police are no stranger to speed themselves- they also boast the world's fastest police car. So why all the fast machines in Dubai, you might ask?
Not only does Hirschi live in Dubai, which is arguably the global epicenter of the supercar world, it's also the growing centrepiece of high-end luxury yachts and speedboats. To measure up against the civilian population, "[the police] always need to be faster than the fastest privately owned boat in the country. If someone tries to get away from the police, it's like one phone call and the world's fastest police boat is on your tail. You've got no chance."
We wanted to hear what it's like to hit 160 km/h in a speedboat versus a sportscar, not to mention what boating culture is like in the UAE, and Alex was kind enough to oblige us with an inside look at her experience on the water:
Alex, you have a huge following in the car world but boating isn't something we've seen from you before. How did the test ride with the Dubai police come to fruition? Was boating something you'd been looking to try?
"Yeah I haven't done too many boating vids but when I found out the Dubai Police has the fastest police boat in the world I had to see it for myself. One of the things I love most about driving supercars is the speed and adrenaline rush, so that crosses over into this boating experience. So I contacted the police and asked if they would take me out, and to my surprise they even said they'd teach me how to drive it. It was so awesome! It has two 350hp engines and can go 90 nautical miles."
From a North American perspective, Dubai and the UAE seem to love things that go fast, and they have a big appreciation for machines that push limits. Why do you think that's such a part of the culture in the UAE?
"Dubai and the UAE as a whole has been pushing the limits of what is possible for decades. The country is less than 50 years old, and grew from the desert in to one of the most spectacular cities in the world. The mentality in the country is to keep innovating and coming up with ideas and projects that have never before been attempted. The UAE has the biggest, the tallest, or the best of almost everything. That mindset trickles down in to the way people here live every day. So just like the country likes to push the limits of construction and innovation, we also like to push the limits of machines. Many of us moved to the country as expats to pursue an opportunity we wouldn't get at home. So we live life to the max every single day, knowing we won't be here forever. Speaking of our love of machines... this is a driver's country, so there is a big appreciation for cars. Cars are so deeply ingrained in this culture, that it's natural to keep seeking out the best of the best."
Is boating culture as prominent as car culture in the UAE? What are the differences between the two?
"I think boating culture is definitely as big as the car culture here. Most of the main cities are on the ocean, so boating and water sports is a big thing. Just as there are car clubs, there are also boating and yacht clubs up and down the coast. The boating and yacht culture has been around for a lot longer than the car culture, so some of the first ways to socialize with Emiratis and other expats in the country, would be to join a yacht club. As the city began to grow, and more roads were laid down across the country, the car culture started to grow. Now you can see several supercars every single day as you just drive around the city. As I've not been traveling as much due to coronavirus, I've been exploring more of the city, which has meant more watersports and boating experiences. I also recently tried the Sea Breacher. I describe it as a kind of underwater jet ski. The one I tried was a shark, but they come as an Orca as well. You steer it up and down with the fins. It can also dive and breach just like a whale or shark would. The coolest thing is some of them can do a 360."
It's often said that 'going fast' on a boat feels more intense because you can feel the wind and waves, as opposed to being under an enclosed roof. Compared to a high-end sportscar, how did driving the boat feel ?
"Yeah everything definitely feels faster on water. I also find it a little strange that boats don't always have the same safety precautions, like seat belts. It's second nature to put a seat belt on when you jump in the car, so you feel more exposed no t being strapped in. The other major difference is you don't have a predictable flat surface like a road. The nature of water is that the surface can vary so much, so you have to keep adjusting to the "road" you're on, based on the conditions. It's kind of like driving on a road with lots of potholes of varying depth and length. Also the faster you go on water, the rougher it gets, slamming back down over the waves. However, going fast in a sports car often feels more dangerous because most roads are so narrow and you have such a small area to stay within, whereas the water is much more expansive, so you have fewer opportunities for error or running in to another boat."
You were able to run at full throttle for a while. What top speed did you hit? Did it feel fast or slow compared to that same speed in a car?
"I hit 160km/hour which is the fastest I've ever been on water. It felt fast for sure, but it was much more manageable in the driver's seat than it was when the Police officer was hitting those speeds and I was sitting in the back. Up front it actually felt much smoother than at the back, with the wind hitting you in the face. It felt really fast but I didn't get the same amount of adrenaline as I do when I drive fast, probably because again, I felt like much less could go wrong, as I could point the boat in any direction and just floor it, whereas with a car, you have a very specific space where you can drive, and one little move of the steering wheel at those speeds could mean you run off the road and get in to a serious accident."
What's one thing that really stood out about driving a high speed boat compared to a car? What's one thing you liked? One thing you didn't like?
"One thing that really stood out to me was not having to wear seatbelts and travelling that fast. Also at those speeds, one officer was controlling the throttle and one officer was on the steering wheel so they could do fast maneuvers and be completely in control. In a car, it's unheard of to need more than one person controlling it... so that was interesting to see... That the boat was so fast and so powerful that in order to keep it completely under control, they have two officers controlling it and signaling to each other for each move. I loved the freedom you feel out on the ocean and you also get to see the city from a different perspective. There is a sense of camaraderie out there as well between boats. There's always a wave and a smile as you pass each other which isn't the case in a car in the city. It feels more like you're on an open country road. One thing I'm not keen on though, is once you're out on the boat, you're out. There's no option of stopping and getting out whenever you want to. You have to have enough time set aside as an experience to go boating. As for cars, you can take out a fast car any time, even for a quick trip down the road to feel the adrenaline, and then be back within ten minutes. I like the convenience of cars."
Are there any other vehicles aside from sportscars that you'd like to try? Will we see more boat videos in the future?
"Yes, I'd love to have more boating experiences. My channel is all about tracking down super rare and interesting cars around the world, so if I spot or hear of a super rare or unusual boat or yacht or water experience, I would be keen to film it for my channel. I recently got invited on to a 60 metre yacht that someone uses as his Playstation den for the weekend, which is amazing and also mad. I would love to see more mega yachts and also want to try the hydrofoil surfboard."
You can check out Alex pushing the XCAT to the limit below: