Brazilian sailor Torben GRAEL confirmed his position as favourite and won the first of three legs of Match Race Brazil, the first ISAF Grade 3 event to be held in Brazil, which finished on 1 June in Rio.
Grael, four times medallist in the Olympic Games and six times World Champion, defeated in the final the crew of two-times Olympic medallist skipper Robert SCHEIDT, who also has six world titles, by a 2-0 score.
In the Petite Finals, skipper Alan ADLER beat André FONSECA also by a 2-0 score.
In a sunny, hot, 12 knots wind day, the Búzios lane was the perfect canvas for a great Brazilian sailing fest. The semi final series was sailed in the morning, with Torben GRAEL defeating André FONSECA 2-0 and Scheidt beating the first place in the round robin, Alan Adler, by 2-1.
Torben Gael's previous experience in match racing, a boat-against-boat competition, was fundamental. Although the 42 year-old skipper never sailed a 40.7 boat like the ones utilized in Búzios. Working with his helmsman in the Star class, Marcelo FERREIRA, as tactician, Torben faced some difficulties in the first final race, and passed Robert Scheidt's boat only in the finish line, wining by a slim one-metre difference.
"It was a confidence victory. We didn't dismay and waited an opportunity to attack. It was a very close call, but it was worth it",
explained a champagne-soaked Torben Grael, still atop of the podium. "My crew had to hear a lot, and I thank them all for standing me".
Louis Vuitton Cup's challenger Prada Syndicate tactician, Torben GRAEL, said that his level of solicitation was very high in the Match Race Brazil. "I came from a competition where the crew was highly trained, and here we put together a group on spot, formed mostly by amateurs"
, stated Grael. "They had to tolerate me, and everything worked just fine in the end".
Torben, who now prepares to the Star event at Kiel Week, in Germany, praised Robert SCHEIDT. "He did a wonderful job in his first match race",
said Grael. "As usual, he was a tough opponent".
To Scheidt, the lack of experience in the first regatta was decisive. "We had a good race and only lost in the finish line. But I'm happy with the spot in the final and with the second place",
assured the sailor, who singled the tactician Jose Paulo BARCELLOS' performance. "He helped a lot, specially in the pre-start action".
Scheidt will also be in Kiel, racing in the Laser class, and will use the month of July in ilhabela as a training period for the Pan-American Games, that will be held in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, in August.
The first leg of Match Race Brazil was a celebration of Brazil's sailing. Four Olympic champions (Marcos SOARES, Alex WELTER, Torben GRAEL and Robert SCHEIDT) led crews in the event. To gather four gold medal winners in a single competition is a feat in the country. After all, 80 years of Olympic participation, Brazil got to the highest step only 12 times.