Portugal got off to a flying start in the battle to find the world's top match racing nation by winning the first Regional Final of the 2009 ISAF Nations Cup. Beijing Olympian Alvaro Marinho won the Europe 1 Regional Final ensuring that Portugal is the first nation to qualify for the Grand Final of the 2009 ISAF Nations Cup.
Portugal join Brazil and France, who receive invitations as the host nation and defending champion respectively, on the entry list for the Open event next year's Grand Final, which will take place in Porto Alegre from 23-28 March.
The first of the Women's Regional Finals, where France are also the defending champions, is scheduled for 7-11 October in Antibes, France. The remaining finalists in both Open and Women's events will be decided at five further Regional Finals held in Argentina, India, Ireland (Open only), New Zealand and the USA from October-December 2008.
The Europe 1 Regional Final for the Open event was held in Brindisi, Italy from 18-21 September. Along with Marinho, the line up of skippers featured Manuel Weiller Vidal of Spain, Simone Ferrarese of Italy, Eugeniy Nikiforov of Russia, Orkun Soyer of Turkey, Sebastian Ripard of Malta and Alexandr Denisiuc representing Moldova.
In fantastic sailing conditions, Marinho showed the boat handling skills that have brought him so much success at the Olympic level in the 470 dinghy, dominating the competition. The Portuguese skipper one both round robin series on a 3-1 record and then swept pass Ferrarese in the semi final 3-1. In the final, Marinho lined up against Weiller Vidal, the runner up at the recent Eurosaf European Championship in Moscow. However, the Spaniard could do nothing to halt the success of the Portuguese star as Marinho cruised to a 3-0 win. In the petit-final, Ferrarese defeated Nikiforov of Russia 2-0 to take third place.
The competition moves to Auckland, New Zealand for the next stage of the ISAF Nations Cup with the Regional Final for Oceania from 25-28 September. ISAF Nations Cup
The ISAF Nations Cup was first introduced to the world in 1991. It is based on a series of Regional Finals with the top crews meeting at the Grand Final.
The aim of the event is to broaden the availability of match racing and provide international match racing competition for national authorities and sailors at a reasonable cost, whilst acting as an incentive for national match racing programmes.
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5:45 AM Thu 25 Sep 2008 GMT
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