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10 September 2003, 09:52 am
Grael Wins Another
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Loof leads Bromby and Grael

Star European Championship
Cascais

In a race with an unexpected end, Torben GRAEL (BRA) crossed the finish line ahead of his main opponent, Mark NEELEMAN (NED), who finished fourth. With this result, the Brazilian crew became the 2003 Star European Champion.
Just as in the four previous days, by 1300h, the Stars started leaving Marina de Cascais heading for the racing area. The difference was in the weather conditions: very strong wind (more than 25 knots) and choppy sea, "it means impracticable conditions for the Star class", said José CANCELLA De ABREU, Clube Naval de Cascais principal race officer. Nevertheless, at the scheduled time (1400h) the Race Committee fired the starting shot for the last race of the 2003 Star European Championship.

Shortly afterwards, the Race Committee was forced to hoist the postponement flag, which made the crews go back on shore and wait for new instructions. The Sailing Instructions allowed for a race to be started until 1600h and: at 1514h the postponement was struck and the Stars went one more time to the sea, at this time about half of the fleet had chosen not to get in the race again.

For this reason, with a new racing area defined, in front of São Pedro do Estoril, at 1628h the final race of the Championship was started with the wind blowing from the north at about 18 knots, that fell to ten by the end of the race. Going into the final day on equal points with Neeleman, Torben GRAEL and Marcelo FERREIRA rose to the challenge. Although they've had a less promising start, since they were ninth at the first mark and behind the Dutch, in the downwind leg Grael showed what he knows better and started recovering. In the end of the second upwind leg he already had an advantage over the Dutch and with a good downwind leg he achieved the victory and closed with a gold key one more European. In the end, the skipper praised the performance of the crew from Netherlands: "it was difficult, Mark sailed fair, but he didn't make things easy with a good start."

Although a little frustrated about the second place overall, Mark NEELEMAN recognised the Brazilian's superiority: "it isn't easy beating Grael, he's too fast downwind and we couldn't follow him." The next stop for the crew, constituted by Mark NEELEMAN/Peter VAN NIEKERK, is in Cadiz, for the ISAF World Championship, where they will try to qualify the country to the Olympics.

Clube Naval de Cascais said goodbye to the 62 crews that competed in this championship with a prize giving ceremony to the best crews of the regatta.

Top Ten Overall
Pos Nation Helm Crew R1 R2 R3 R4 R5 R6 Points
1 BRA Torben GRAEL Marcelo FERREIRA 7 3 1 19 2 1 14
2 NED Mark NEELEMAN Peter Van NIEKERK 1 4 4 5 4 4 17
3 AUS Colin BEASHEL David GILES 6 63 8 4 13 2 33
4 GBR Iain PERCY Steve MITCHELL 10 1 2 15 63 6 34
5 SWE Fredrik LOOF Anders EKSTROM 11 10 3 10 1 63 35
6 BER Peter BROMBY Martin SIESE 4 7 10 12 3 63 36
7 CAN Ross MACDONALD Kai BJORN 17 8 18 1 30 8 52
8 USA Mark REYNOLDS Magnus LILJEDAHL 14 11 11 18 14 7 57
9 AUS Iain MURRAY Andrew PALFREY 12 6 13 14 24 13 58
10 IRL Mark MANSFIELD Killian COLLINS 34 5 6 63 11 3 59
Event Media (As Amended by ISAF News Editor)
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