The 49er and 49erFX sailors here in Brazil were smiling from ear to ear as they returned to shore after day 1 of the 2013 SEIKO 49er & 49erFX South American Champoionships. The nine 49er and three 49erFX raced as a single fleet for 4 races in 12-14 knots. Moderate waves and warm water meant that the sailing conditions were as close to perfect as possible. The 12 boat fleet is down slightly from what it could be, with all the 49erFX sailors from Argentina needing to stay home with their exams upcoming. Nevertheless, the fleet in South America has grown considerably in 2013 as there were only 2 boats at the event last year.
The race committee were a bit ambitious in the first race, which took almost 40 minutes and was won by overnight Brazilian leaders, Marco Grael and Gabriel Borges. The course was shortened down to 25 minutes per race and each of the next races was hotly contested to the finish. Marco and Gabriel are sailing in their new ship, and they have spent the past few weeks ensuring it is in great regatta condition.
In second overall is Brazilian legend ‘Bochecha’, Andre Fonseca and his new crew Mario Tinoco from the Snipe class. They managed to win the second race on the day and sailed in the top 4 for the other three races.
Back for the first time since 2012 is Santiago Silviera and Phillip Umpierre. These two narrowly missed out on London, and after regrouping have set their sites on Rio. They were the fastest on the course today, winning the final 2 races, and they might have won more if not for a poor start in the first race and hitting a mark in race 2. This pair have their eyes on the championship to be sure.
The 49erFX fleet raced at the same start as the 49er and the three teams battled to keep up. Martine and Kahena, fresh from their Silver medal at the 2013 Worlds were on form today and lead the 49erFX fleet in all three races. They also managed to beat some of the newer 49er teams on occasion.
This was day 1 of the 4 day championship. Tomorrows forecast is for a few knots more wind, so all the teams will be looking for a good nights rest before taking to the sea again.