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15 September 2005, 11:57 am
Rio De Janeiro Leg Set To Decide Championship
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Match Race Brasil 2005
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil

Match Race Brasil, the boat-against-boat competition that gathers some of the most prominent Brazilian sailors and special foreign guests enters its final leg this Thursday with the ISAF Grade 3 Match Race Brasil - Ilhabela SP. The third and final leg will be sailed until Sunday at the Rio de Janeiro Yacht Club and contrary to the two first editions, when Torben GRAEL (BRA) comfortably secured the title, this year the form book points to a more balanced and closely fought regatta.
Thursday schedule starts with practice at 1100 hours local time with the first six flights starting at 0100. The opening round will pit Daniel GLOMB (BRA) and the local favourite Alexandre SALDANHA (BRA) against each other.

The overall lead of the series is shared by the crews led by GRAEL, winner of the previous Ilhabela leg, and by André FONSECA (BRA), runner-up in Ilhabela and Salvador. Both have 16 points, one more than Alan ADLER (BRA), who won in the year-opening Salvador leg. All three skippers will have a chance to secure the title on the waters of Rio.

'I'm ready for a very tough fight, but we're very confident,' said FONSECA, still resting in his home-city of Florianópolis (south shore of Brazil), after the 20 day Rio to Cascais, Portugal trip as a crewmember of Brasil1, the first Brazilian boat to ever take part in the Volvo Ocean Race. 'I'm totally absorbed by the Brasil 1 project and hadn't sailed in match race format since May, while all the others practiced and competed. I'll try to rely on the crew's good intermeshing.'

Among the sailors that got the chance to practice and compete is GLOMB, who competed in two events in Sopot, Poland including the ISAF Grade 1 Sopot Match Race. 'It was a very positive experience. Sure, good results are always welcome, but my priority at the moment is to learn how to sail in match race respecting the rules, to avoid penalties. I think the exchange is important, because you sail in Europe with some of the best yachtsmen in the world,' said the 24 year old sailor.

The Rio de Janeiro leg will feature three new skippers. Local Bruno BETHLEM will replace injured Joao SIGNORINI, who broke three ribs in a collision between Brasil 1 and a whale, in the Portugal trip. The other two are overseas sailors: Spain's Jordi CALAFAT, crewmember of the defending America's Cup champion Alinghi (SUI), who will be assisted by France's Yann GOUNIOT and Bernardo LABRO and Switzerland's Nils FREI; and New Zealand's Simon MINOPRIO will have in his crew fellow Kiwis Hayden GOODRICK and Ryan HOUSTON and Sweden's Martin STROMBERG.

Like the two preceding years, the competition is sailed by eight crews in identical Bénéteau 40.7s, assigned to each skipper through a draw made by the organization.

Match Race Brasil Standings
(After two legs)

1. Torben GRAEL (BRA), 16 points
1. André FONSECA (BRA), 16
3. Alan ADLER (BRA), 15
4. Alexandre SALDANHA (BRA), 8
4. Daniel GLOMB (BRA), 8
4. João SIGNORINI (BRA), 8
7. Santiago LOPEZ VASQUEZ (ESP), 2
7. Tino ELLEGAST (GER), 2
9. Torkel BORGSTROM (ARG), 1
10. Cole PARADA (ARG), 0

The women's competition, the Nivea Sun Cup - Women's Sailing Cup, also reaches its third and final leg of Match Race Brasil 2005. The regattas start at 1500 on Thursday. Isabela FICKER will open the schedule facing Fernanda OLIVEIRA. The other helms for the Skipper 21 boats are Adriana KOSTIW, Laser Radial South American and Brazilian Champion and Caroline BEJAR, who led a Brazilian crew at the ISAF Grade 1 St. Quay Women Match Racing in France.

Match Race Brasil is a Vela Brasil competition, with supervision of Brazilian Sailing Federation (FBVM), and is sponsored by Vivo, Motorola, UBS, Nivea Sun, Varig, Braskem, Bloomberg, Xingu Beer and Volvo.

João Pedro Nunes (As Amended By ISAF). Image, André FONSECA knows a win in Rio will secure him the Match Race Brasil title:© Hector Etchebaster
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