by Craig Heydon
Semaine Olympique Francais - Australian sailors have made a strong start to the fourth round of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres, France, with a number of crews in the top five of their classes at the end of day one.
Tom Slingsby leading the way on day one in France - Semaine Olympique Francais
Current ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Tom Slingsby continued his good form in the Laser class, winning his fleet’s opening two races to be in a two-way tie for the lead.
'I had a really good day today out there,' said Slingsby. 'Two wins in very Australian conditions, with nice wind and waves. I had good speed and managed to stay out of trouble and with lighter winds forecasted from here all is to play for tomorrow.'
After a number of days of heavy wind competitors were faced with breeze of about 15 knots with a number of Australian sailors excelling, including new Australian Sailing Team member Tom Burton who ended the day ninth in the Laser class.
Burton opened his regatta with an eighth and then jumped up the leader board in race two with a second place finish to be in touch with the leaders.
In the 470 class reigning world champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page had a pair of four place finishes to end the day fourth overall.
Belcher and Page are just two points off the lead after the opening two races with the Australians competing in their first Hyeres regatta together after Page missed the 2010 event.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page on day one in Hyeres - Semaine Olympique Francais
In the Women’s Match Racing competition the Australian crews of Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price, and Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty both ended the day with two wins and a loss in the opening round robin.
Souter, Curtis and Price had wins against their Chinese and Croatian competitors and a loss against the Spanish crew in Group B.
'The conditions were testing today and it was great to get two wins under our belt early and we’re excited to get back out there tomorrow,' said Price.
In Group A Spithill, Eastwell and Whitty won their races against the Portuguese and Dutch teams and lost to the Finnish crew.
'It was a messy day on the water with a lot of short, steep waves which made a high priority on speed upwind and a good opportunity for downwind surfing,' said Spithill. 'We had some good races, including a close downwind run with Golcalves from Portugal which resulted in them receiving a penalty for not sailing the proper course.'
Brendan Casey is sixth in the Finn class with the Gold Coast based sailor finishing with a fifth and a fourth on day one.
The Australian Sailing Squad representatives also had strong opening days in France including Sam Kivell and Will Ryan in the 470 fleet who won the first race before finishing 23rd in race two to be 20th overall.
Krystal Weir has made a great start to her regatta in the Laser Radial class with a fourth and a seventh leaving her seventh overall in the highly competitive fleet.
In the 470 women’s class 2008 Beijing Olympic Games Gold medalist Tessa Parkinson and new crew Marieke Jongens ended their first day of Sailing World Cup racing together in 23rd after a 27th and 22nd in the day’s two races.
In the Laser fleet Squad members Ashley Brunning and Ryan Palk are 50th and 86th respectively.
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