The 2009 Brazilian Olympic Sailing Team has been decided after a weeklong selection trial in Porto Alegre featuring some of the star names from Qingdao along with some young faces with familiar family names.
Last Sunday, on a sunny, clear and windy day in the southernmost part of Brazil, the Confederação Brasileira de Vela e Motor (CBVM), picked the country's Olympic sailing team (EPVO) for 2009 at the end of a weeklong selection regatta.
In Brazil, the Olympic sailing squad is chosen in one sole event with the winners making up the EPVO for that year and thus benefiting from support from CBVM for their training and sailing trips. Olympic medallists, as long as they keep sailing in the event they won their medal in, are automatic members of EPVO and for all the others the road to the 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition at Weymouth and Portland began in Guaiba River, Porto Alegre, the capital of Rio Grande do Sul state. Robert SCHEIDT
and Bruno PRADA
, silver medallists at Beijing 2008 in the Star, have already announced their intention to sail for London 2012 in this class and so are native members of EPVO for 2009.
Olympic sailing hopefuls from all over Brazil gathered in the south to claim a spot in the EPVO team and youth was present in big numbers. In the Finn class, Jorge Joao ZARIF
the 16 year old son of the late Olympic Finn sailor, Jorge ZARIF
, qualified for his place on the EPVO team in the last race. In the new event Women's Match Racing Olympic event, the SENFFT-GRAEL family partnership was successfully revived. Back at the Los Angles 1984 Olympic Games, Torben GRAEL
won the first of his five Olympic medals in the Soling with Ronaldo SENFFT
as crew. This time round, success and a place on the EPVO team went to Juliana SENFFT
, 20 year old daughter of Ronaldo, at the helm, with Martine GRAEL
, Torben's 18 year old daughter, as crew along with Gabriela NICOLINO
That was not the only success for the GRAEL family at Porto Alegre. Marco GRAEL
, 20 year old brother of Martine, entered the EPVO team in the 49er class with Andre FONSECA
(sixth and seventh place finisher in Athens and Beijing respectively). FONSECA missed the first day of races because he was flying from China where he was with Delta Lloyd Team in the Volvo Ocean Race as one of their helmsmen.
Another member of the GRAEL family that grabbed the headlines was Lars GRAEL
, who alongside Renato MOURA
, his new crew, won the Star class. It is the first time since the 1998 accident that cost Lars his right leg, that the two-time Tornado bronze medallist has won back his place in Brazilian Olympic sailing team as an athlete. GRAEL and MOURA will join SCHEIDT and PRADA in the EPVO team, forming a formidable-looking Brazilian Star challenge for 2012.
Some others veterans from the Games also won their place in the EPVO team. Beijing bronze medallist Fernanda OLIVEIRA
, with new partner Ana BARBACHAN
, won the Women's 470 competition. Fabio PILLAR
and Samuel ALBRECHT
got the Men's 470 spot. In the RS:X boards, both Men's and Women's, the Brazilian representatives in Qingdao won the races with Ricardo SANTOS
, the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Champion
and Pan Am gold medallist, and Patricia FREITAS
joining the team. Completing the team are two more Olympians, Laser sailor Bruno FONTES
and Adriana KOSTIW
in the Laser Radial.