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13 January 2006, 03:58 pm
Brazilians Serve Up Bruschetta As Strong Competition For Worlds
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J/24 Australian Championship 2006
Melbourne, Australia

The Brazilian J/24 crew aboard Bruschetta has stolen the lead in the J/24 Australian National Championship after a first and second in today's racing at Sail Melbourne, Australia.
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WALLACE, the current Western Australian Champion, was third overall in a strong international fleet of 31 boats - all preparing for next week's World Championship.

Brazillian boat Bruschetta finished the Championship first overall. As an international entry, Mauricio SANTACRUZ and his crew were unable to win National Championship trophy, but still managed to impress everyone with their boat speed, including WALLACE.

'The Brazillian boat is really quick. The Japanese boat is quick too. The Australian guys were fortunate that conditions were right for us and if they are right next week you can't discount us,' WALLACE said.

Of his own chances next week, WALLACE said consistency was the key. 'We had ordinary races and we had good races. We just need to be consistent next week and we will be up there with a chance,' WALLACE said.

Australian Champion crew member Simon Cunningham said the team was happy with their result despite an up and down regatta. 'We had good boat speed,' he said. 'You can't put the boat in the right position if you don't have good boat speed.'

More than 40 J/24 crews will be closely watching Bruschetta when the Sail Melbourne J/24 World Championship begins on January 16 at Sandringham Yacht Club.

Bruschetta crew member, Alex SULDANHA, was pleased with the result and hoped they could replicate the performance in the Worlds. 'It will be a lot tougher now,' he said. 'Everyone will be pushing harder now - and it's a difficult course because of the many wind shifts.

'We've got good speed and good boat trimming for sure. We constantly change the trimming of the boat and we have a good skipper and a fantastic crew. Mauricio is a great skipper - and he is a light guy, which is good, because that means you don't hold much weight at the back of the boat.'

Mike INGHAM's (USA) Brain Cramp finished the Championship second overall with WALLACE third overall.

Japanese boat Siesta did just that. Opting not to race in today's final races, preferring to rest the crew and boat, Wataru SAKAMOTO's crew still managed to finish fourth overall and is expected to be among the favourites for the World Championship.

The fleet will also include former three-time Olympian and bronze medallist in the Laser, Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) aboard J-Spot and two-time Australian National Champion and current NSW champ, Sean KIRKJIAN, who finished fourth at last year's World Championship - the top placed Australian. America's Suzi TAYLOR will be the only female skipper aboard Five to Six.

The Championship finished today at Sandringham Yacht Club with eight knot breeze and minimal waves for the first race, followed by slightly breezier ten knots and slight waves for the final race of the event.

For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.

Tanya OUTEN (As Amended by ISAF). Image, The J/24s are now looking forward to their Worlds next week:© Jeff CROW, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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