At the Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships after 80 flights and 320 Women’s Match Races, it all boiled down to the last race of the Round Robins for the eighth and final spot.
With eight race wins Goncalves occupied the final nations place ahead of the final flight. Silja Lehtinen (FIN) was one point behind her and required a victory in her final race against Nicky Souter (AUS) to finish level with Goncalves. And after beating Goncalves earlier on in the regatta it would have been Lehtinen who took the final spot.
But in the last race Lehtinen was comprehensively defeated by Souter sparking celebrations in the Portuguese camp as the girls qualified their country. Holding back the tears after the news, a near speechless Goncalves said, 'My dream was to go to the Olympics and I think it came true.' Rival Australian skippers Olivia Price and Nicky Souter both qualified Australia for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition as they finished second and third in the second Round Robin and advance to the Quarter Finals of the competition.
Price said, 'I can’t really describe it, we are so stoked with how things went today. Qualifying the nation is predominantly what we came here to do and tick, achieved. I guess it hasn’t really sunk in that much.'
Souter added, 'Not only did we qualify the country but we’ve made the Quarter Finals which was a big goal. We found out we qualified with two races to spare so it was a big relief.'
Stephanie Hazard qualified New Zealand and Anna Kjellberg made sure that a Swedish match race team will be on the start line at London 2012 after a steady day on the water. But the big celebrations will be within the Portuguese camp tonight.
The four nations today will join France, the Netherlands, Russia and the USA as teams who have qualified from Perth 2011.
As hosts Great Britain directly qualify for one quota in each event with the 2010 ISAF Women's Match Racing World Championship winning trio of Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor already named as part of British squad for next year.
Goncalves wins a crucial race against Tamara Echegoyen - ISAF Sailing World Championships Perth 2011 - ©Alastair Hyde-Tetley/Perth 2011
The Women's Match Racing International Country Olympic Qualifying Regatta at Key Biscayne Yacht Club (KBYC), Florida, USA from February 1-5 2012, will be the final chance for the final three Women's Match Racing teams to qualify their country for the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Perth 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships website