Even with the competition title secured since Saturday, Torben GRAEL showed the "victory rage" that is his trademark and won the third and last leg of Match Race Brasil, a boat-against-boat 40.7 Benneteau competition.
Torben was the absolute champion, winning all three legs of the event that put together nine Olympic medallists and seven world champions.
In a sunny, middle-force winded Sunday in the waters of Guanabara Bay, in Rio de Janeiro, the decisive regattas of Match Race Brasil painted the city's postcard, with the Sugarloaf, the Christ, the Redeemer, the Santos Dumont Airport and the Rio-Niterói Bridge as a perfect canvas for the great Brazilian sport festival. More than 50 vessels and 800 people followed the matches around the course, not counting the crowd that watched from the Flamengo beach.
In the Guanabara Bay waters, Torben GRAEL proved to be the "King of Match Race". He won all three legs, clenching the title. "Watching from outside, it seems easy, but it was a tough job to get this results",
said the six-time world champion and four-time Olympic medallist, who won two of the best-of-three regattas against Gastão BRUN, in the semifinals, and two more against Alan ADLER, runner-up in the third leg and also in the overall table of qualification. "I'm very pleased with the crew's evolution since the first leg, in Buzios. They are more adapted to each other, and have mastered the rules of this kind of competition".
With a six-year experience in Match Race, as a tactician for the Italian Prada Syndicate in the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup, Torben says that you always can learn. "I was tactician in Prada, and now I'm helmsman. Everything was alright. We did well in the three legs".
The winning crew was composed by helmsman Torben GRAEL, tactician Marcelo FERREIRA, plus Antonio CARLOS, Paes LEME, Clínio de FREITAS, Luís Carlos FRANÇA, Leite SIMÃO, Carolina BEJAR, Ricardo de FREITAS, in the mast and Colin GOMM in the bow.
Alan ADLER, tournament's runner-up, congratulated Torben for his performance in the finals of Ilhabela and Rio de Janeiro. "Torben's superiority in Match Race was unquestionable. He deserved the title and I'm happy with my team's performance", said the 39-year-old sailor, Star Class world champion in 1989 and silver medallist in the 2003 Pan-American Games.
Alan had more difficulties in the semifinals. He lost the first regatta to João SIGNORINI, but recovered in time.
"We had bad starts in the two decisive regattas. It was fundamental to our defeat. I the Petit-Final, however, we did everything just right, sailed well and repeated the standing of the second leg, in Ilhabela", remembered Joca, selected for the Finn crew in the Olympic Games of Athens, in 2004. "In the fist leg we were in a very strong group, with Adler and Torben. Afterwards, with more experience and in more even groups, we got good results".
Starting December 12, Joca will sail in the Finn World Championship, also in the Rio de Janeiro Yacht Club. He only begun to sail in this class in 2002, but got a bronze in the Athens Pre-Olympic this very year, and secured an Olympic spot for the Brazilian team in the World Championship.
The event will grow in 2004. There will be 10 crews, with the top five of this year's edition, three selected in national qualifying rounds, organized by the Brazilian Sail Federation (FBVM, for the Portuguese initials) and another three invited by the organization, foreign preferentially, to raise the technical level of the competition.
Each crew will have to have at least two women, and in the first day there'll be a Woman's Cup, with two boats crewed by the 20 female sailors. The tournament is expanded by one day, starting on Thursday and finishing on Sunday. There'll be three legs, with the first one in May, the second in October and the last one in December, probably in Buzios, Ilhabela and Rio de Janeiro.
"We'll continue our goal to make sailing more popular, to show the important characteristics of a winning sport",
said Enio RIBEIRO, director of Vela Brasil, the event organizer.
1) Torben Grael
2) Alan Adler
3) Joca Signorini
4) Gastão Brun
5) Alex Welter e André Fonseca
7) Robert Scheidt e Marcos Soares
1) Torben Grael, 30 points
2) Alan Adler, 22
3) Robert Scheidt, 13
4) Joca Signorini, 13
5) Gastão Brun, 7
6) André Fonseca, 7
7) Alex Welter, 5
8) Marcos Soares, 5