Monday, April 21, 2008

Brazil starts 2008 World Match Racing Tour season

[Source: World Match Racing Tour] Anticipation runs high today for tomorrow’s start of the Brasil Sailing Cup in Vitoria, Brazil, the first event of nine of the 2008 World Match Racing Tour (WMRT) season. As with all WMRT events, an impressive slate of 12 skippers and their crews representing America’s Cup teams, top-ranked positions on the ISAF Match Race Ranking List, and up-and-coming aspirants who have won qualifying events are all poised for battling each other for their share of WMRT ranking points and a piece of the US$150,000 prize money purse.

“We’re very excited for the start of tomorrow’s racing,” said Justino Sa Machado, Event Director of the Brasil Sailing Cup. “We learned much from having our first event here in Vitoria in last year’s edition in November, so this year’s racing should be even more exciting as we try to bring the action even closer to the spectators on shore.” The venue here is a spectacular amphitheater of a small bay enclosed by a long strand of beach in the pre-start area, with a narrow passage at the bay’s entrance framed by two rocky headlands that protrude into the South Atlantic Ocean.

“This venue has promise to be one of the more spectator-friendly among all our Tour events,” said Craig Mitchell, WMRT Director, “so weather permitting we will work hard with the Principal Race Officer Miguel Allen and his team to bring the action to the thousands who are on the beach here in Vitoria.”

Several veterans of America’s Cup teams are here who want to keep their skills honed while the legal battle continues between Alinghi and Oracle Racing, and two are returning from last year’s contest. These include Paolo Cian (ITA), of Team Shosholoza and Magnus Holmberg (SWE), of Victory Challenge, who finished third and fourth respectively. New to Vitoria is Mattias Rahm (SWE) also of Victory Challenge, and Adam Minoprio (NZL), of Emirates Team New Zealand.

Also returning to Vitoria to begin accumulating the points necessary to hold on to his top-ranked position on the WMRT ranking list is reigning World Champion Ian Williams (GBR) of Team Pindar. Challenging him will be Bjorn Hansen (SWE) and his Alandia Sailing Team, who is ranked 4th on the WMRT ranking list.

But a unique aspect of this first event of the ’08 WMRT season is the number of aspiring new talent who have just within the last year started their climb through the WMRT ranking list or are brand-new to this top level of the game, having won qualifying events to be here. At 22, Torvar Mirsky (AUS) is one of the youngest skippers on the WMRT, but has competed in three events in the last year, including a 7th place finish here in Vitoria and a 5th place at the Monsoon Cup in Malaysia last November. Also returning is Pierre-Antoine Morvan (FRA) who finished 9th here last year and is ranked 11th on the ISAF world match race ranking list, and Daniel Glomb (BRA), who is an Olympic veteran and this country’s most active match race skipper today, finished 10th. Peter Wibroe (DEN), who finished 2nd in last year’s Danish Open and is 10th in the ISAF rankings, will be here in Vitoria for the first time.

The field is rounded out by two newcomers who are making their WMRT debuts through their top results in the qualifying event, the Rio de Janeiro State Match Race Championship. Henrique Haddad will not see his 21st birthday until next month, yet he went undefeated in the Rio qualifier, and runner-up was Juan Grimaldi (ARG) of the Tag Heuer Sailing Team, who is ranked 53rd in the ISAF rankings.

“We’ve got a very healthy mix of competitors, and it is great to have our kick-off event here in Brasil,” said WMRT President Scott MacLeod, “as this is an important and growing sailing market in South America. It’s also providing a needed niche of world-class sailing competition in this climate of uncertainty regarding the next America’s Cup.”

Racing starts tomorrow at 1000 BRT (GMT-3H) with the start of single round robin competition among Groups A and B in Stage 1.

Ian Williams (GBR) Team Pindar
Paolo Cian (ITA) Team Shosholoza
Magnus Holmberg (SWE) Victory Challenge
Adam Minoprio (NZL) Emirates Team New Zealand
Bjorn Hansen (SWE) Team
Daniel Glomb (BRA) Team Bravissimo
Torvar Mirsky (AUS) Mirsky Racing Team
Peter Wibroe (DEN) Team Wibroe
Pierre Morvan (FRA) Extreme Team Morbihan
Mattias Rahm (SWE) Stena Bulk Sailing Team



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