The Intergalactics reaches final day with superstars fighting for the title, injuries, more protests and lots of wind

The Intergalactic Championship of 49er and 49erFX, in the Yacht Club of Rio de Janeiro, has reached its penultimate day with some of the top class sailors in the uppermost positions in both the men’s and female’s fleets. Tomorrow the last three races will be competed, and the last one, the grand finale, will have double score and finish in front of the balcony of the club, between the two beacons of the main marina, a great attraction for those who appreciate the swift and radical 49ers.

The day began with 49erFX running the first race at 11:30, on weak offshore winds from the Northeast. And in the classic windless moments of Guanabara Bay who did better was the Brazilian boat of Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze, who returned to win races after the recent title of ISAF world’s best sailors.

In the second race of the day, with increasing south wind, they got a 5th place. And won again in the third race to finish this Thursday in 6th place overall, with 45 points, and kept alive their chances of a podium tomorrow. The leaders are the Spanish Tamara Echegoyen and Berta Betanzoz, with 27 points. Followed by Jena Mai Hansen and Katja Salskou-Iversen, of Denmark, with 35 pts, and Alexandra Maloney and Melly Meech, from New Zealand, with 36pts.

Among men, Martine’s brother, Marco Grael and his crew Gabriel Borges also had the pleasure of winning a race today, and in a different fashion. They were in a guaranteed second position when the leaders and legends of the class, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL), capsized just a few meters from the finish line giving the victory in an unusual way

With that, the Kiwis were 15th in that race (promptly discarded as their worst result) and, even without winning any other races today (got also a 4th and a 2nd), are still in front with 15 points. Vice leaders, Americans Brad Funk and Trevor Burd, have 37pts. And Funk decreed, “Rio de Janeiro is now my favourite sailing place all over the world. The city’s atmosphere, good winds, people, scenery, all contributes to that. I’m loving it”.

In third overall are John Pink and Hollingworth Bithell, of Great Britain, with 41 pts. And the French Manu Dyen and Stephane Cristidis that were also fighting for that position all long the week just fell on the score sheet due to an accident at the finish line too. A collision with the Spanish boat of brothers Carlos and Anton Paz hit the leg of the Gallic bowman forcing him to receive medical attention at the club and generating another protest hearing. Luckily nothing serious happened, and he should just stay ashore tomorrow. The intergalactics are almost done and we are already missing it. What a great time!


Men’s (49er) results:

Women’s (49erFX) results:


Murillo Novaes
Photos: Fred Hoffmann