Brazil triumphed at the 2009 J/24 World Championship as Mauricio SANTA CRUZ and his Bruschetta team won their third J/24 World title on a drama-filled final day in Annapolis.
The sun came out at last, the wind finally arrived more or less on schedule and the 2009 J/24 World Championship came to an exciting end with three races jammed into the final day of competition.
With the vital worst-race throwout in play once the sailors had completed the day's first contest, standings shuffled quite a bit, and as 1996 World Champion Chris LARSON
(USA) of Annapolis and his National Sailing Hall of Fame team finished third in that race thet took the lead by the narrowest of margins, tied on points with Canadian Rossi MILEV
and his Clear Air crew.
With a third-place finish in the next race, LARSON and his team, which included Dave HUGHES, Moose MCCLINTOCK, Steve FRAZIER, and Curtis FLORENCE, pulled ahead a bit more, establishing a 2-point lead over 2006-2007 World Champion Mauricio SANTA CRUZ
and his Brazilian team on Bruschetta, who now found himself winning the tiebreaker with MILEV and setting up the final race as a real nail-biter to see who would emerge at the top of the highly competitive 76-boat fleet.
In the end, SANTA CRUZ and the Bruschetta crew, with a third in the seventh race to LARSON's 11th and Milev's 14th, came away with a third J/24 World Championship, making him the second-most successful J/24 skipper in class history (American Ken READ
still holds the record with six titles) and the first non-US sailor to win a Worlds in this country.
Sailing with SANTA CRUZ were Daniel SANTIAGO, Alexandre SALDANHA, Paolo BOIDO, and Alfredo ROVERE, who have been part of his team for six years.
"We have a very good team,"
SANTA CRUZ said as he enjoyed the congratulations of his fellow sailors in the Annapolis Yacht Club basin as they lined up for haulout. "The first day, the wind was good, but after that it was very difficult. Today, the Race Committee did a very good job, and we had three good races."
The Bruschetta team came out the box strongly, with finishes of 6,1 on the series' first two races on Monday, and managed to avoid trouble with the starting penalties that plagued others. Tuesday's light air brought them 63 points - ultimately their throwout - but keeper scores no worse than 16th and four top-ten finishes carried them through in good form.
"We had a great day on the water,"
LARSON said. "We didn't have a great start in the last race and Bruschetta did, and he sailed really well. We caught up a lot toward the end, and we won the day on the water."
LARSON and his team were among the victims of starting penalties on the regatta's first day, when a sixth-place finish became a 22-pointer with a 20% "Z" flag penalty after the boat was identified as over the line early in a recalled start under the "Z" flag.
Unfortunately, the Wednesday light air crapshoot resulted in a 43rd-place finish for their drop, so Larson and company had to swallow the expensive penalty.
Principal Race Officer Sandy GROSVENOR brought the fleet out early this morning and held them as long as possible, starting the third race with only a few minutes to spare before the drop-deadline.
"The sailors cooperated quite a lot by getting off the line clean,"
she said, describing southerly breeze in the 6- to 8-knot range. Courses were set south of Thomas Point Light, on the theory that the normal spring sunny-day thermal would arrive sooner farther to the south. And the strong ebb current which had plagued the racers and organizers throughout the week actually began to die off during the final race of the series. Not soon enough, however, for some 13 teams who were disqualified under the dreaded black flag used for the day's first race. By the time Grosvenor started the third and final race of the day, however, the sailors went off cleanly without the use of any penalty flag signals.
For more information and complete results, see www.j24worldchampionship2009.com