Reigning Star World Champions Robert SCHEIDT and Bruno PRADA were amongst the victors at the Brazilian Olympic Selection Trials held on Guanabara Bay at the Iate Clube do Rio de Janeiro during February.
Like the USA, the Olympic Trials in Brazil are an all-or-nothing regatta with the winners earning the right to represent their nation at the 2008 Olympic Sailing Competition. Brazil has a fantastic record in Olympic sailing, lying eighth in the overall medal table and with an impressive combined-haul of four gold, one silver and two bronze medals from the last three Games. The Brazilians have qualified for places in eight of the eleven Olympic events, and will have the opportunity to increase that tally to nine at the upcoming Laser Radial Worlds in New Zealand.
Brazil's recent Olympic success has been spearheaded by sailing legends Robert SCHEIDT
(two gold and one silver medal in the Laser), Torben GRAEL
(two gold, one silver and two bronze medals in the Star and Soling) and Marcelo FERREIRA
(two gold and one bronze with GRAEL in the Star). For the 2008 Games SCHEIDT has teamed up with Bruno PRADA
and moved to the Star keelboat with almost instant success, paving the way for a potential trials showdown between the reigning World (SCHEIDT and PRADA) and Olympic (GRAEL and FERREIRA) Champions to decide the Brazil Star representative. However GRAEL, who in October last year signed on as Ericsson skipper for the 2008-09 Volvo Ocean Race, did not compete, leaving his brother Lars GRAEL
and crew Marcelo JORDÃO to provide SCHEIDT and PRADA with their principal challenge. FERREIRA meanwhile tried his hand, ultimately unsuccessfully, in the Finn trials.
Following a hard-fought battle with GRAEL and JORDÃO, SCHEIDT and PRADA eventually prevailed in the Star competition with a string of bullets when it counted to ensure their spot on the Brazilian Olympic team. Whilst SCHEIDT is a veteran of three Games, for his crew Beijing will mark his first Olympic appearance.
"My feeling is relief,"
commented an emotional PRADA after securing victory at the trials. "Competing in the trials is very different from any other regatta. It was very tense.
"Our responsibility is great. We will compete in the Star class, in which Brazil has four Olympic medals won by Torben GRAEL,"
Stepping into SCHEIDT's shoes in the one person dingy event will be Bruno FONTES
, who carried over his excellent form from the 2008 Laser Worlds (where he placed 11th overall) to win the Laser trials, eight points ahead of Eduardo COUTO
. "Today is the happiest day of my life. The sun is shining for me and I hope to continue well,"
said a delighted FONTES. "I have had a great preparation. Have real chances of medals and want to maintain that tradition of success in the Brazilian sailing.
For COUTO second place will not be too disappointing as he had already guaranteed his place in Qingdao by winning the Finn trials a week earlier.
, who like SCHEIDT and PRADA won gold at the 2007 ISAF Sailing World Championships
, was a clear winner in the Men's RS:X windsurfer trials, whilst Patricia FREITAS
(BRA) won out in the women's windsurfer event.
Completing the team are Andre FONSECA
and Rodrigo DUARTE
in the 49er, Fabio PILLAR
and Samuel ALBRECHT
in the Men's 470 and Fernanda OLIVEIRA
and Isabel SWAN
(BRA) in the Women's 470.
Brazilian Olympic Trials - www.seletivabrasil.com.br