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20 January 2006, 09:15 am
Brazilians New World Champions
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J/24 World Championship 2006
Melbourne, Australia

The Brazilian crew of Bruschetta, skippered by former two-time Tornado Olympian, Mauricio SANTA CRUZ (BRA), have won the J/24 World Championship at Sail Melbourne, Australia. Huge 30-40 knot winds swept Port Phillip this morning and Race Officials at Sandringham Yacht Club in Australia felt it prudent to put an end to the final two races of the twelve race series this afternoon.
No ALT tag specifiedA happy SANTA CRUZ and his crew won the Worlds by a whopping 20 points, with a Japanese crew on Siesta, skippered by Wataru SAKAMOTO, finishing second. Ian SOUTHWORTH's British entry, Inmarsat, took third place, just four points adrift of the Japanese.

It was surprisingly, an all international affair; the best placed Australian was Doug MCGAIN and his crew on Code Violation from Middle Harbour in Sydney. MCGAIN said they were disappointed that racing was canned and the series finished early. 'It would have been nice to have another crack today, we were hoping to move up the scoreboard a bit - and we like a lot of wind. Having said that, we are pretty pleased to beat the two Sean's [WALLIS and KIRKJIAN] and be topped placed Aussie boat.'

The third placed British crew would have liked the extra two races and so would the Italians led by Luigi RAVIOLI on Black Jack, who started the series so well - for the same reason as MCGAIN.

Even the Bruschetta crew were looking forward to more racing, but were very excited to win the event none the less. SANTA CRUZ paid tribute to his boat owner, Italian Paolo BODIDO and Brazilian crew members Alex SALDANHA, Daniel SANTIAGO and Alan ADLER. Thomas LOWBEER joined them for the Nationals until ADLER, the 1989 Star World Champion and team manager for the luckless Brasil 1 in the Volvo Ocean Race, could join them.

'Alan has done an incredible job to stay focused while having to organize everything for Brasil at the same time. He has to organize to get fuel to Brasil and get Brasil from Western Australia to Melbourne in time for the In Port race,' said SALDANHA.

'It is awesome to win,' said SANTA CRUZ, 'I have a very good team behind me - we have spent three years in the J/24 and have trained every week. We came second at the Worlds last year, that was a bit lucky because two other top boats have a prang [one of them was Australian champion KIRKJIAN] so we move to second.

'This is just fantastic, of course we are very happy, the sailing is very nice here and the race officers are very good,' said SANTA CRUZ, who represented Brazil as a skipper in the Tornado class at both the Sydney 2000 Games and the Athens Games. His 2004 crew, Kiko PELICANO is aboard Brasil 1.

While the Brazilians made it look easy, winning race one and sailing a most consistent series, SALDANHA said that was not so. 'It was very tough competition and anything could have happened - even today. There are a lot of high standard people here.' The crew is made up of owner and J/24 European distributor, BODIDO (mast), ADLER (tactician), SALDANHA (bow) and SANTIAGO (trimmer).

Japan Takes Second

For the Japanese, the crew's shouts of excitement as they ran to tell skipper SAKAMOTO aboard Siesta of their second place was impossible to miss. SAKAMOTO was mid-interview when three of his crew jumped aboard yelling excitedly. They then shook his hand, picked the 26 year old up, and in the old tradition, threw him into the Bay amid much laughter.

Their happiness was palpable - and rightly so. This was the biggest win of their career. 'We did not do so well at the Worlds or our Nationals - we are very happy. We trained every Saturday and Sunday since the last Worlds,' said SAKAMOTO who comes from Wakayama City, just south of Osaka.

'We enjoyed to sail here very much - the people are nice too and the race people [officials] do a very good job - the best,' he added.

Brits Celebrate Third Place

For the Inmarsat crew it was a bittersweet third place. Their first four races kept them in second place, but disaster struck in race five when the Brazilians won a protest against them, and although they recovered well, recording more consistent results, a 16th place in race ten, coupled with an early finish to the one race drop series did them no favours. Nor the fact their charter boat weighed heavier than expected.

'We've had a ball though,' said INMARSAT's co-owner, Chris MCLAUGHLIN, who is Vice President Corporate Affairs for Inmarsat.

Skipper, SOUTHWORTH from the Hamble, echoed his co-owner's thoughts. 'Fantastic conditions here and we're absolutely thrilled with our third.

'This is the first time I've ever sailed here and we've really enjoyed the conditions, except for yesterday - it was too brain testing,' added MCLAUGHLIN, who's sailing base is Cowes, on the Isle of Wight.

MCLAUGHLIN, said the partnership between skipper SOUTHWORTH and American Max SKELLEY was 'Brilliant - one compliments the other - it's a lethal combination.' The Brit last sailed the Worlds in 1993 and finished sixth, then decided, 'I'm not playing anymore,' and put the boat away, going on to sail other classes such as the Etchells.

However, fate stepped in when the 2005 World Championship came to Weymouth in Britain and MCLAUGHLIN could not resist. His crew won the selection series with a rebuild older boat re-named Echidna (for his Aussie wife) and finished ninth at the Worlds, giving him the momentum to keep going and try his luck again in 2006 - and a third place was the result.

For 2005 Worlds third and fourth place finishers, Luigi RAVIOLI (ITA) on Black Jack and Australian Sean KIRKJIAN on Death Star, 2006 was not to be their year. RAVIOLI and his crew had a great start to the series, but his OCS in race seven seemed to throw him off balance, only a third place in what was to be the final race, redeeming him. A further hindrance was Mike INGHAM's (USA) Brain Cramp crew winning the last two races, moving him up into fourth place overall. 'That is sailing, racing,' RAVIOLI said.

For KIRKJIAN, the current NSW champion and until a week ago, the National Champion, a couple of sixth and eighth places were marred by results in the 20's. 'I didn't have the boat set up properly in the beginning, but we re-set it, it just wasn't my week I think.'

Thanks go once more to Kevin and Ross WILSON and their team of Race Officials who made this yet another great event. Thanks to all the ground volunteers. This regatta would not be what it was without those volunteers.

Sail Melbourne is made possible by the support of event sponsors: Sport & Recreation Victoria, Collex, Parks Victoria; associate sponsors Bayside City Council and Menere's BMW Brighton and support sponsors Ronstan International, Schenker Australia, City of Kingston and the City of Port Philip.

Top Ten Results

Pos Nation Boat Skipper R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 R7 R8 R9 R10 Pts
1 BRA Bruschetta Mauricio SANTA CRUZ 1 7 5 2 5 (13) 7 1 4 2 34
2 JPN Siesta Wataru SAKAMOTO 10 8 3 6 7 5 2 (41) DSQ 9 4 54
3 GBR Inmarsat Ian SOUTHWORTH 4 5 4 9 3 (41) DSQ 4 8 5 16 58
4 USA Brain Cramp Mike INGHAM 11 3 12 (16) 4 10 10 13 1 1 65
5 ITA Black Jack Luigi RAVIOLI 2 2 2 18 12 2 (41) OCS 3 18 14 73
6 AUS Code Violation Doug MCGAIN (24) 15 8 5 1 8 6 7 22 6 78
7 USA The Pie David KLATT 9 4 1 (41) SCP 11 18 18 11 8 3 83
8 AUS Fly Emirates Sean WALLIS 15 6 9 1 14 1 12 14 16 (20) 88
9 JPN Cerezo Yasutaka FUNAZAWA 14 12 20 12 2 3 13 12 SCP 3 (40) 91
10 AUS Death Star Sean KIRKJIAN 16 (23) 15 8 22 6 8 6 10 9 100

For all the news on Sail Melbourne CLICK HERE.

Di PEARSON (As Amended by ISAF). Image, The Bruschetta boys have claimed the World title:© Jeff CROW, Sport the Library at Sail Melbourne
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