Torben GRAEL (BRA), two-time Olympic champion and back-to-back winner of the Match Race Brasil, is one of the main attractions of the competition that started in March with the first leg sailed in the waters of Salvador, Bahia and will finish in September, with the third leg to be held at Rio de Janeiro. Winner of five Olympic medals, GRAEL will try to reestablish his hegemony and try for the hat-trick, after winning both editions in 2003 and 2004.
'We're finding more difficulties each leg, and it's natural,' said GRAEL. 'Everybody is learning how to compete in this system, with different rules than a fleet competition', said the skipper that has in his crew two-time Star Olympic medalist Marcelo FERREIRA (BRA), along with Olympic medallists Kiko PELLICANO (BRA) and Clínio de FREITAS (BRA). 'I have a very good crew and the goal is to have a great performance'.
The other Brazilian skippers are João 'Joca' SIGNORINI, Daniel GLOMB and Alexandre SALDANHA. The two invited foreign skipper are Argentinean Cole PARADA, head coach of his country's team at the Athens 2004 Olympic Games and German Tino ELLEGAST, 2004 South American Match Race champion.
In the way of GRAEL and his aim to return to his winning ways, is former Star World Champion, ADLER, going for his second win in 2005. He is relying on an experienced crew that includes Eduardo PENIDO and Marcos SOARES (BRA), the 470 champions at the 1980 Moscow Olympic Games, and tactician Lars GRAEL (BRA), brother of Torben who took bronze in the Tornado in Seoul in 1988 and Atlanta in 1996. 'I'm pretty sure that the regattas will be evenly sailed and details will decide the winner', said ADLER, silver medallist at the 2003 Santo Domingo Pan-American Games in the J24 class.
Like the two preceding years, the competition will be sailed by eight crews in identical Bénéteau 40.7s and assigned to each skipper through a draw made by the organization.
The women's competition is a parallel feature to the Match Race Brasil 2005, and Ilhabela will be the stage for the first leg of 2005 Nivea Sun Cup Women's Sailing Cup, featuring some of the best female sailors in Brazil. The main attraction is Adriana KOSTIW, South American and Brazilian champion in the Laser Radial. The other skippers include Isabel FICKER, Fernanda OLIVEIRA and Caroline BEJAR. The event will also feature a Pro-Am competition on Saturday, teaming professional and amateur sailors.
Standings after leg one in Salvador
- Alan ADLER, 10 points
- André FONSECA, 8
- Torben GRAEL, 6
- Alexandre SALDANHA, 5
- Daniel GLOMB, 4
- João SIGNORINI, 3
- Santiago LOPEZ VASQUEZ, 2
- Torkel BORGSTROM, 1