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5 May 2009, 04:44 pm
Brazilians Make Fast Start At J/24 Worlds
Mauricio SANTA CRUZ and his Bruschetta team
Mauricio SANTA CRUZ and his Bruschetta team pictured at the 2007 Worlds

J/24 World Championship 2009
Annapolis, Maryland, USA

Brazilian Mauricio SANTA CRUZ, who earned the J/24 World Championship title in 2006 and 2007 only to be unseated last year by Italian Andrea CASALE, has made it clear that he wants to get back to the top with his Bruschetta team's performance in today's opening round on the waters of the Chesapeake Bay off Annapolis.
Confronted with a fleet of 82 teams from 16 countries and more than a dozen US states, including some of the class' and the sport's top champions, Mauricio SANTA CRUZ (BRA) managed finishes of 6-1 on a challenging day with constant drizzle interspersed with a few squalls and shifting northeasterly breezes ranging from 10 to 15 knots.

Homeported in Rio de Janeiro, SANTA CRUZ's team includes Daniel SANTIAGO, Alexandre SALDANHA, Paolo BOIDO, and Alfredo ROVERE.

Not far behind the Brazilian team was 2005 World Champion Anthony KOTOUN out of the US Virgin Islands, with finishes of 7,2. His Bomba Charger team includes Chad ATKINS, Chuck NORRIS, Mark IVEY, and Matt LINDBLAD.

The fleet got off to a clean start in the first race of the day, but repeated general recalls for the start of the second resulted in the application of the dreaded "black flag" - which penalizes sailors who were identified as over early in starts that are subsequently recalled, even if they start clean in the race which ultimately counts. Twenty teams were caught in this bitter trap as the fleet's aggressiveness came to a head before obtaining a clean start.

1996 J/24 World Champion Chris LARSON (USA), sailing in his home waters, with crew Dave HUGHES, Moose MCCLINTOCK, Steve FRAZIER, and Curtis FLORENCE, took second in the day's first race but learned later that he had been penalized under the Z, or black, flag in the second, in which he finished sixth. LARSON recently returned to big-fleet J/24 racing with an entry in last month's National Offshore One Design Regatta, also at Annapolis Yacht Club, and managed to capture third after three days of tight competition despite some slightly uneven results.

"It was pretty nice out there today, other than the rain and the visibility, which was bad in the squalls," LARSON said. "Then it was hard to see the mark, or the [Chesapeake Bay] Bridge."

Headed for a redress hearing on the penalty, LARSON said that being out in the big fleet for this event "feels a lot better than it did last weekend," admitting that his team felt "pretty rusty" in the NOOD event. "But we're pretty happy to be 2 and 6 on the water today."

Scoring including the Z flag penalty, pending the result of the redress hearing, had LARSON's National Sailing Hall of Fame crew in sixth overall.

The regatta is scheduled to go through until Friday, with a total of 10 races on the slate. Once the total hits five complete contests, a worst-race throwout will kick in.

2008 Champion Andrea CASALE (ITA), with finishes of 21,9, was standing 13th with his Fiamma Gialla crew, including Vittorio ROSSO, Ernesto ANGELETTI, Enzo DI CAPUA, and Fabio MONTEFUSCO.

In this event, the results also are dotted with 20% penalties. This reflects a new rule, under which sailors who commit a foul or hit a mark cannot exonerate themselves with penalty turns, but must instead fly an "I" flag and accept the penalty - which climbs to 40% if they do not do so before finishing.

Results and more at www.j24worldchampionship2009.com.

Dobbs Davis
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