Mens 470 racing in the big breeze at Hyeres
The first day of the Semaine Olympique Française, fourth event on the ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit, started in high gear with a strong south-westerly breeze and athletic racing conditions. Typical Hyères weather!
In the Mens Windsurfer (RS:X) Julien Bontemps (FRA) excelled again in the breeze winning the day's two races after claiming the World title in the same windy conditions.
'It was good to win these races, especially when I was against Miarczynski in my group, who is very fast in the breeze. The conditions were similar as the Worlds with strong winds but the sea was very choppy and it made it hard!'
Toni Wilhelm (GER) sailed to similar standard and collects two bullets in his group. The Polish windsurfers are not far behind, Piotr Myska and Przemek Miarczynski place twice second in their respective group.
Li Ling (CHN) claimed the day with two victories in the Womens Windsurfer (RS:X) fleet. The SOF is the first SWC event this year for the Chinese. Moana Delle (GER) and Chaline Picon (FRA) takes second and third.
Natalia Kosinska (NZL) lies in eighth overall, finishing in 8th and 9th places in the two races sailed.
Sailors from Down Under enjoyed the conditions in the Mens Singlehender (Laser). World #1 and World Champion Tom Slingsby (AUS) made the most of the day taking the bullets in his group's two races while Andy Maloney (NZL) dominates his group with two wins. Andrew Murdoch (NZL) takes third position.
'Today was a good start to the event, it was very windy and very wild out there and I managed to get two wins so I'm pretty happy with that but there's plenty of racing to go,' said Slingsby. 'I started race one well and led coming into the bottom mark but actually capsized, I came up in about fourth position and had really good speed up the next upwind and was able to pull back the lead.
'In Race 2 I led from start to finish, I played it a bit more conservatively this time as I didn't want to capsize again and went on to win,' he said.
Only 10 49ers finished the only race sailed on the opening day at Hyeres
Croatian Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic raced to perfection winning to races and the lead in the Mens Two Hander (470).
Other races went to the Coster brothers (NED) and Charbonnier/Mion (FRA).
'It was all about the speed and we had great speed today. Obviously we made good use of the four days spent here before the event, we practised in the strong winds here and it paid off.' explained the Croatians.
After placing second on race one, World leaders Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) broke their rig while leading the second race by 200 meters. The Australians managed to finish in 25th place.
In the Womens Two Hander (470) event, Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED) and Japanese Ai Kondo with Wakako Tabata (JAP) are sharing the lead with a win and a second place.
In the Womens Singlehander (Laser Radial), the day belonged to Alison Young, the athletic British sailor gave it all winning both races in her group: 'The racing got pretty full on today with the breeze kicking up - it made the downwinds good fun and made for a good old hike off upwind, but the last three days of training we've had out here have given us a good bit of breeze to get for this week so the preparation has gone well.'
Krystal Weir (AUS) and Charlotte Dobson (GBR) won a race each to place in second and third position.
In the Heavy Weight Mens Singlehander (Finn), young Estonian Deniss Karpak (EST) showed his form in the breeze taking both races and the lead over Athens Silver medallist Rafa Trujillo (ESP) and Laser Olympic medallist Vasilij Zbogar (SLO).
Dan Slater lies in fifth place overall aftger two races, where he placed fourth and seventh. A second NZ competitor, Matt Coutts lies in 20th overall after not being scored in the first race and finishing in ninth in the second.
Only one race was sailed for the Yellow group in the Mens HP Skiff (49er). Starting the race with 18 knots, the 49ers saw problems to finish the race when the wind increased to 28 knots and the water transformed to a steep chop.
Only 11 boats finished the race with young French team of Julien D'Ortoli, Noe Delpech (FRA) ahead. 'We had a good start and despite capsizing before the top mark , we passed second, we took the lead on the downwind, we were fast with the spinnaker. We tried to control as much as we could and when we passed the line realised that behind us nearly everybody was swimming.'
Neither New Zealand 49er crew sailed on the opening day of the regatta.
Megan Pascoe (GBR) and Helena Lucas (GBR) got the top two places in the only race completed in the Paralympics Singlehander (2.4mR). Damien Seguin (FRA) placed third while Thierry Schmitter (NED) lost an early lead when his boat filled with water on the last downwind leg. He is among eight boat not to finish the race.
'It was a really solid start and it's nice to have a windy Hyeres again as it's been a while!
Both me and Helena were going really, really well today - I had the pace upwind, she had the pace downwind but we both had the pace over the whole fleet, so something is going right in training! It does show that the trials are working and I think we'll get the best boat to the Games at the end of it.' explained Megan Pascoe.
In the Paralympics Two Hander (Skudd), Australians Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch won the day's race.
Only three flights were completed in the Women Match-Racing (Elliott 7) with the Americans Tunnicliffe and Barkow winning all their matches. The lost matches will be added to tomorrow's programme starting at 9.30am.
Three races will be scheduled for all classes on Monday with four for the 49er Blue group who will start at 10am.
For full results see http://sof.ffvoile.com and click the flag on the right for the English or French versions