by Craig Heydon
Semaine Olympique Francaise - Light and shifty conditions have dominated day four of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in France, with Australian Sailing Team members having mixed results as the competition enters the final series.
Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page on day four of racing in France - Semaine Olympique Française 2011
In the Laser fleet Tom Slingsby has slipped to third position after leading the regatta for the opening three days.
The three-time World Champion had a difficult day by his high standards with a 17th, 37th and 13th leaving him two points off second and 14 off the lead with one fleet race and the final medal race still to compete.
'It was a really tough day today,' said Slingsby. 'We had three finals races in two to five knots. It wasn’t really the best conditions for racing let alone three races today but that happens.
'Things didn’t go my way today and I‚m back to third overall but with one race tomorrow, I’ll hopefully have a good race and pull back some points,' he said.
Reigning World Champions Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page maintained their third position in the 470 men’s fleet though had their two highest scores of the week with a 12th and 33rd.
The 470 men’s fleet has two more fleet races scheduled for Friday and Belcher and Page find themselves just five points behind second place and 15 from the leaders.
'We race in a very light sea breeze today that never really established itself,' said Page. 'It was very flukey with wind shifts of up to 50 degrees making for a tough day.
'All of the crews around us had at least one bad race, if you made one small error or your strategy didn’t go quite to plan you paid big today,' he said. 'It’s expected to be very light again tomorrow and if we do race it’s about being extreme if you want to get ahead. You have to push a little more in these conditions to do well, back yourself and go headfirst with your decisions.
'That being said we’re not focused on the other boats, we’re still looking to improve ourselves and get more time racing in a large, strong, fleet in conditions that we hardly ever get to race in at home. You can’t simulate that pressure and it’s a great opportunity to learn,' said Page.
In the Women’s Match Racing competition Australian’s Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty were knocked out in the repechage round robin after finishing the day with two wins and three losses.
In the silver round robin fellow Australians Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price completed three races, recording a win and two losses.
Brendan Casey has moved up to 29th in the Finn fleet following a 16th in the only race of the day while Tom Burton is also 29th in the Laser fleet.
The Australian Sailing Squad’s Krystal Weir had a tough day on the water in the Laser Radial class and is currently 16th, while fellow Squad members Sam Kivell and Will Ryan are 37th in the 470 men’s fleet.
Tessa Parkinson and Marieke Jongens ended day four 33rd in the 470 women’s class after a seventh and a 48th.
In the Laser class Squad members Ryan Palk and Ashley Brunning are 40th and 61st respectively.
Semaine Olympique Francaise website