At the 2012 Semaine Olympique Francaise, the French Sailing Week, the double point medal race brought its fair amount of drama and saw many upset in the event’s final scores. Event and class leader Tom Slingsby (AUS) had mastered the gruelling conditions all week, but the 30 minutes Medal race was the straw that broke the camel's back! His mast snapped while in the lead, cutting short his medal chance in an event he had been dominating all week.
German Philipp Buhl raced one of his best events to date to win the medal race and the Semaine Olympique Française on the last day. The 22 years old wins in Hyères his first World Cup event. 'I love to come here, some years ago I won the laser Youth World here. This place brings me good luck!'
'I sailed fast and strong this week. We train in these sorts of conditions many times a year. It was great fun in the downwind but to be honest my back hurts a bit from that challenge,' joked Buhl.
'Tom Slingsby broke his mast in the lead so that’s why it’s Gold and not Silver for me, so I would have been happy with silver medal. Winning Gold because someone breaks a mast is not nice.'
Silver and Bronze go to New Zealanders Andy Maloney and Andrew Murdoch.
In the Radial, Beijing Bronze medallist Lijia Xu (CHN), collected regular top four results during the qualification stage to steadily climb the result ladder. A third place in the Medal race was enough for the Chinese to take the title from Bouwmeester who race to seventh place in the Medal race. She is taking Bronze with Silver for World number one Evi van Acker (BEL).
Laser Radial: Lijia Xu (CHN) - Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012
'My objective here was to sail well in the breeze. I used to be a light wind sailor but I have practiced a lot in the windier conditions to be ready for Weymouth. Of course I am happy to have won this event, especially in these conditions!' says Lijia Xu.
Another surprise winner is Brendan Casey in the Finn class, the Australian have steadily climbed up the results ladder to place third yesterday after a victory in the last race. A win in today's medal race and with earlier leader Trujillo (ESP) seventh, Casey (AUS) wins the event by less than half of a point. By taking the event Brendan Casey is also winning his ticket for London!
Finn: Brendan Casey (AUS) - Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012
'I am so excited about my selection! I had to prove good results, and that's done!' Olympic Silver Medallist Rafa Trujillo (ESP) couldn't hide his disappointment at the finish, realising that he had lost the first place by a whisker! Third place goes to Vasiliy Zbogar (SLO). The Slovene wins in Hyères his fourth Olympic selection and the first in the Finn class after winning Bronze and Silver in the Laser.
The medal race changed the game in the RS:X.
Moana Delle (GER) takes the title from Maja Dziarnwoska (POL) after winning the Medal race. The Polish places second with French Charline Picon third.
'I love Hyères! I am very excited with my week, I had lots of fun racing in these conditions.' said the enthusiastic young German. 'I am going to the Olympic Games for the first time and I am happy to see I can win this event and have good speed in the breeze.'
RS:X Moana Delle (GER) - Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012
After leading for most of the week, Piotr Myska (POL) dropped from the podium after a disqualification at the start of the RS:X Medal race. World Champion Julien Bontemps wins the race and the title. Przemek 'Pont' Miarczynski (POL) is taking Silver and Toni Wilhelm the Bronze.
'I was tired after the windy conditions at the Worlds in Cadiz. So it was tough to start again with a windy event! Especially with the Polish who are fast in the breeze, I needed to give my best!' explained Bontemps.
With the title already in their pocket, Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED) enjoyed a stress free medal race, to add another win to their already impressive score. American pair Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan took second in the race and the event. For Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Géron, the conclusion of the Semaine Olympique Française meant more than a Bronze medal! This event concludes one long year of selections among the top three French 470 teams and a first Olympic qualification for Lecointre and Géron.
'Hyères was one of the events we had not won yet' said Page. The 470 World champions Belcher/Page have added a third successive Sailing World Cup victory after taking Gold in Miami and Palma. They lead the SWC standings by a large margin. 'It was an important event to test ourselves and our material in the breeze. We had some problems when we broke the rig and Malcolm was sick all week.' explains Belcher.
Belcher and Page in the medal race in Hyeres - Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012
'It is the right time to face these problems so we know how to handle them if they happen during the Olympic Games.' The Croatians Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic win the race and the Silver medal. The Coster brothers take the Bronze.
After breaking their mast yesterday, the Olympic champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) won the medal race and the event. Bacardi Cup winners Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot take second in the Medal race and the second position, consistent with their Palma results. Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen (SWE) place third. The Stars are staying in Hyères to train ahead of their World Championship next week.
Star: Percy Simpson (GBR) - Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012
With the strong wind and rolling waves, the 49ers were the only class to miss out on the Medal race.
Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA) were happy to stay ashore, protecting their earlier lead. 'We sailed well this week despite the strong conditions. We took the lead when the wind was more moderate and were able to keep it in the breeze.' say Christidis.
The title was won last year by Italians Pietro and Giancarlo Sibello, while the French skipper suffered an injury and had to retire from the regatta. 'We want to dedicate this victory to Pietro Sibello. We are sorry that he didn't get the OK from his country to keep racing after his health problem in Perth! We are missing a great team on the circuit.' added Manu Dyen.
Anna Tunnicliffe and team are well prepared to go into their Olympic selection trial in Weymouth next week. The team remains undefeated with 16 victories and take Gold at the end of the round robin. Sally Barkow (USA) and team Skudina wins 12 matches and take Silver and Bronze.
The paralympic classes could not race today due to the strong winds and high seas. Damien Seguin (FRA) is adding another SOF title and is this week in Hyères the only sailor to retain his title. Helena Lucas (GBR) is placed second with Thierry Schmitter (NED) third.
The British John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas win the event. Bruno Jourdren, Nicolas Vimont-Vicary et Eric Flageul take Silver. Aleksander Wang Hansen, Per Eugen Kristiansen and Marie Solberg (NOR) are in third position to get the Bronze.
Miami OCR winners Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch (AUS) take Gold with Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) in second position. Americans Jennifer French and Jean-Paul Creignou are taking Bronze.
Semaine Olympique Francaise website