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10 March 2005, 03:35 pm
A Champions' Beginning
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Match Race Brasil 2005
Salvador, Brazil

With great Brazilian sailing names and guests from abroad, the 2005 edition of the ISAF Grade 3 Match Race Brasil, opens today at the Bahia Yacht Club, in Salvador (Northeast Shore of Brazil). Skipper Torben GRAEL, back-to-back champion and two-time Star-class Olympic champion, once again is one of the main attractions of the competition that will be sailed until Sunday.
Another two legs will be held in Ilhabela (SP), from May 19 to 22, and in Rio de Janeiro, from September 15 to 18.

Owner of a world sailing record of five Olympic medals, GRAEL will fight to maintain the hegemony and the good results, like the five wins in six regattas sailed since 2003. His only defeat happened in 2004's last leg, in Rio de Janeiro, to polish Karol JABLONSKI. "Each year increases the difficulties. The competition gained with the participation of good foreigner sailors, and the Brazilians are getting used to match racing. The tendency is to a more balanced dispute", declared Grael.

Torben returns to match racing after finishing second at the 2005 Star World Championship in Argentina in February with crew Marcelo FERREIRA who as always will be his tactician in this weekend's Match Race Brasil. GRAEL's crew will have also Olympic medallists Kiko PELICANO and Clinio de FREITAS who both have won bronze medallists sailing the Tornado with Torben's brother Lars.

The Salvador leg will have the crews of Alan ADLER, Andre "Bochecha" FONSECA and João "Joca" SIGNORINI, who finished 2004 in second, third and fourth places respectively. The line-up is completed by Daniel GLOMB and Alexandre "Spanto" SALDANHA, who qualified at the Match Race Cup in Porto Alegre (South of Brazil); and also the special invitees, Argentinean Torkel BORGSTROM and Spaniard Santiago LOPEZ-VAZQUEZ, this one a member of the Desafio Español Syndicate that will sail in the 2007 America's Cup.

Like the two preceding years, the competition will be sailed by eight crews in identical Beneteau 40.7s and assigned to each skipper through a draw made by the organization, fighting for a sum of R$ 40,000 (approximately US$ 12,000) in prizes each leg, with R$ 120,000 (almost US$ 40,000) as the total money prize.

The crews will be ready this today (Thursday) at the Bahia Yacht Clube for practicing starting at 11:00 (local time) and, depending upon the winds, the regattas start at 13:00 (local time).

The Match Race Brasil schedule will have a Women's Cup in Ilhabela and Rio de Janeiro and a Pro-Am competition in every leg, teaming professional and amateur sailors.

The event is a great celebration of the sport that has the most triumphs in the Brazilian Olympic history. Sailing has 14 Olympic medals, with six gold, two silver and six bronze. The last two were won in Athens by Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA, at the Star event, and Robert SCHEIDT in the Laser event. Another proof of the sailing strength is the fact that, in Olympic and Panamerican events, Brazil sums up to 30 medals, a feat never achieved by any other sport.

Organized by Vela Brasil, a sports market venture created with the sole purpose of developing professional sailing in Brazil, Match Race Brasil uses the same rules of the Louis Vuitton Cup, qualifying series for the America's Cup, a sailing competition with more than 150 years of history.

The line up for Day One Matches are as follows:

Signorini (BRA) v Glomb (BRA)
Adler (BRA) v Borgstrom (ARG)
Signorini (BRA) v Adler (BRA)
Borgstrom (ARG) v Glomb (BRA)
Grael (BRA) v Fonseca (BRA)
Vazquez (ESP) v Saldanha (BRA)

Match Race Brasil is a Vela Brasil competition, with supervision of Brazilian Sailing Federation (FBVM), and the support of Ilhabela Mayor Office and Ilhabela Yacht Club. The competition is sponsored by Vivo, Motorola, UBS, Nivea Sun, Varig, Braskem, Volvo and Agfa.

ZDL (As Amended by ISAF)
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