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Anna TUNNICLIFFE led the USA team to the top of the leaderboard in the women's division. They will be joined in the semi-final by the Italians with Giulia CONTI at the helm and defending champions France, who are led by ISAF Women's Match Racing World Champion Claire LEROY. The final slot in the semi finals will be disputed by the teams from Great Britain, Australia, Portugal and Brazil.
American skipper TUNNICLIFFE is best known for her exploits in the one-person dinghy Laser Radial, where she holds a world #1 ranking and is the gold medallist from the Beijing Olympic Games. However, at the helm of the Team USA entry in the Women's Division, TUNNICLIFFE is also proving herself to be a formidable match racer. Her first match of the day was to prove one of the most exciting of the Grand Final to date as she lined up against the French team led by LEROY: world #1 Laser Radial sailor versus world #1 women's match racer.
Conditions on the Guaiba river were again tricky for the competitors, with the southeasterly breeze oscillating between 8-16 knots. TUNNICLIFFE and her team won the right off the start and defended that position throughout the race. LEROY made numerous counterattacks, but whilst she kept the pressure high, the US team were able to hold to their lead and after a very close race to finish take the gun by a couple of feet. TUNNICLIFFE added two more victories on the day to end the round robin in first place on a 7-1 record.
Italy were the only team to defeat the Americans in the round robin, and led by skipper CONTI they completed a solid series to finish second in the round robin on a 6-2 scoreline. This left LEROY and the British team of Lucy MACGREGOR to fight it out for the last of the semi-final places. Despite her early setback against TUNNICLIFFE, LEROY showed why she has been the world's #1 ranked women's match racer for over three years with a victory in the decisive race. LEROY grabbed a small advantage just before the start and from there repelled every effort the Brits made to get past, scoring victory and securing a semi-final place ahead of MACGREGOR on countback.
Joining MACGREGOR and the British team in the repechage are Nicky SOUTER (AUS), Rita GONCALVES (POR) and Juliana SENFFT (BRA). The young Brazilian skipper delighted the home supporters by earning the final place in the repechage at the expense of world #4 ranked skipper Lotte Meldgaard PEDERSEN and the team from Denmark.
In the Open division, IEHL and the French team continued their form from Tuesday to run out convincing winners of the round robin on a 8-1 record. Portugal's Alvaro MARINHO, a three-time Olympian in the 470 dinghy, will also line up in the semis thanks to a 6-3 scoreline. Rising Danish star Mads EBLER handed the French team their only defeat and that win proved crucial as he led the Danish team into the semi finals by a half-point margin.
Behind the top three, the USA's Dave PERRY, Henrique HADDAD of Brazil and India's Mahesh RAMCHANDRAN all ended the round robin on 5-4 records. RAMCHANDRAN in particular put in a strong performance on the day, winning four of his five matches to jump from ninth to sixth on the leaderboard. The final place in the repechage round went to Spain and skipper Manuel WEILLER VIDAL.
Racing continues in Porto Alegre today, with the repechage round. The semi-finals and final of the 2009 ISAF Nations Cup are scheduled for last day of racing on Saturday 28 March.
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
Round Robin Standings
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.