The first ISAF South American Nations Cup Regional Final for 2011 will take place from 24-27 March this week at Porto Alegre, Brazil.
Peruvian sailors gather for training course before the regatta ©www.vds.com
The ISAF Nations Cup is a global competition to find the world's top match racing nations in both open and women's events and to develop match racing infrastructure around the world.
Racing will take place on the Guaiba River with crews of three sailors competing on the Elliott 6m.
The Nations Cup encompasses a series of eight Regional Finals from March to July 2011, from which the top team will qualify for the ISAF Nations Cup Grand Final, which will take place in Sheboygan, USA from 13-18 September 2011.
The hot favourite in the open category is Henrique Haddad (BRA) who is ranked #22 in the world and will be joined by Mario Trindade and Victor Demaison. Haddad is familiar with conditions at Porto Alegre where he claimed the silver medal in the 2009 Grand Final and more recently won the South American Match Race Championship in November 2010.
Lining up against Haddad are Juan Grimaldi, Francisco Van Avermaete and Rafael De martis from Argentina and Daniel Mendoza from Peru will skipper Giancarlo Polar and Wilfredo Lafosse.
Brazil's Juliana Senfft, ranked #19 in the world, will be the favourite in the women's category with her crew of Gabriela Nicolino and Daniela Adler. Senfft came 19th at the Rolex Miami OCR and will use her Grade 1 experience to her advantage as her opponents are yet to compete in a Grade 1 regatta.
She will face competition from Argentina's Martina Silva, ranked #47 in the world, and from Peru's Tania Zimmermann, ranked #86 in the world.
Silva will skipper a crew consisting of Ana Lucia Silva and Trinidad Silva whilst Zimmermann skippers Nathalie Zimmermann and Jimena Gaviño.
The Peruvian team touched down at Porto Alegre last week where they have been attending a clinic on the basics for beginners, followed by sailing to an advanced level and a third for umpires, and referees with instructor Philippe Gomez.
The group said, 'In our country match racing is not yet widespread. Our goal is to continue perfecting the technique in clinical courses and do your best in the competition.
'We concentrated mainly on women because of the new women's match racing event at the Olympic Sailing Competition.'
The winners of the Regional Finals will progress through to the Grand Final, where they will be joined by representatives from the defending champions France, and the host nation, USA, to battle for the 2011 ISAF Nations Cup trophies in the open and women's events.
Following on from earlier editions in 1991, 1993 and 1995, the ISAF Nations Cup was successfully re-launched in 2006. The latest edition took place in 2009 with the Grand Final hosted by Porto Alegre in Brazil. In total 60 teams representing 39 MNAs participated in the 2009 ISAF Nations Cup.
Eight Regional Finals decided the line up for the Grand Final at the Veleiros do Sul sailing club in Porto Alegre where France repeated their double victory from 2007 to retain the open title skippered by Damien Lehl (FRA) and the women's title skippered again by Claire Leroy (FRA).