In front of his home supporters, young Brazilian skipper Henrique HADDAD rose to the occasion in Thursday's racing, winning all three of his matches in the repechage to join Damien IEHL (FRA), Alvaro MARINHO (POR) and Mads EBLER (DEN) in the semi-final stage.
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HADDAD, who comes from the Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro, upset the odds by winning all three of his matches in the repechage against Dave PERRY (USA), Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND) and Manuel WEILLER VIDAL (ESP). The Brazilian started the Grand Final as an outside bet, with his World Ranking of #80 the lowest of any of the 10 skippers competing in the Open division. However the 22 year old has shown outstanding potential racing on the Guaiba river and will be sure of huge backing from the local support during the semi-finals.
In contrast to HADDAD's success, Lucy MACGREGOR's (GBR) progress through the Women's repechage was less of a surprise. The British skipper is the reigning European Champion and holds a world #3 ranking. She swept past the challenge of Nicky SOUTER (AUS), Juliana SENFFT (BRA) and Rita GONCALVES (POR) to win the repechage on a 3-0 record. MACGREGOR joins Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA), Giulia CONTI (ITA) and Claire LEROY (FRA) in the semi finals.
As winners of the round robin stage, IEHL and TUNNICLIFFE were able to choose their opponents in the semi-final. TUNNICLIFFE, Olympic gold medallist at Beijing in the Laser Radial dinghy, opted to face the French team of LEROY, who are the reigning World Champions and also the defenders of the Nations Cup. CONTI will line up against MACGREGOR. In the Open Division, IEHL will line up against MARINHO, leaving HADDAD to face EBLER.
The semi-finals are a best-of-five race contest. Racing will be held on Friday, with the Race Committee also planning to complete the opening races of the final as unfavourable conditions are forecast for Saturday.
Round Robin Standings
1. Damien IEHL (FRA), 8-1
2. Alvaro MARINHO (POR), 6-3
3. Mads EBLER (DEN), 5.5-3
4. Dave PERRY (USA), 5-4
5. Henrique HADDAD (BRA), 5-4
6. Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN (IND), 5-4
7. Manuel WEILLER VIDAL (ESP), 4-5
8. Adrian SHORT (NZL), 3-6
9. Juan FIGUEROA (ARG), 3-6
10. Jon ERIKSSON (FIN), 0-9
1. Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA), 7-1
2. Giulia CONTI (ITA), 6-2
3. Claire LEROY (FRA), 5-3
4. Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR), 5-3
5. Nicky SOUTER (AUS), 4-4
6. Rita GONCALVES (POR), 3-5
7. Juliana SENFFT (BRA), 3-5
8. Lotte Meldgaard PEDERSEN (DEN), 3-5
9. Cecilia RUIZ BARLETT (ARG), 0-9
Find out more about the ISAF Nations Cup, including full results and photo galleries from Porto Alegre at www.sailing.org/nationscup.