At the ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres 2013 , the medals were decided across the ten Olympic events which brought the regatta to a close. An up and down breeze that never truly filled in at any point ensured for close knit racing on the final day in the south of France.
Although Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) brought an 18 point 49erFX lead into the final day there was no room for complacency as three double point Medal Races could have brought dramatic changes.
Keeping out of trouble they posted a steady 5-4-5 to take their second ISAF Sailing World Cup regatta win of the 2012-13 season. 'We’re happy that we’ve won our first World Cup event in Europe,' said Maloney, who with Meech won the inaugural 49erFX event at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne. 'It was quite stressful out there with it being so light and shifty and the lead changed all the time.'
There is room for optimism with the girls, however they know the road to Rio will take time, 'It’s just beginning,' said Meech. 'Most of the girls are quite new to the boat so there’s a long way to go and it’s going to keep getting harder.'
Charlotte Dobson and Mary Rook (GBR) take silver and Dutch team Annemiek Bekkering and Claire Blom had a great day to take the final podium spot.
Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign got the job done the 49er with a 2-1-3 score line. Having come into the day with a joint lead Fletcher and Sign couldn’t have asked for much more in tricky conditions. David Evans and Ed Powys made it a British top two and Carlos and Anton Paz (ESP) rounded off the top three.
Marit Bouwmeester (NED) christened her return back in the Laser Radial after London 2012 with a well-deserved gold medal. Leading the first Medal Race from start to finish Bouwmeester established a seven point advantage over Tuula Tenkanen (FIN) and Alison Young (GBR) who were tied for silver.
'I just had to focus on myself and sail a good race,' said the Dutch sailor. 'When it is light and tricky it’s a bit easier because you can only focus on yourself and I won the first race and made it a bit easy. The other two girls started racing each other in the second race so it was easy for me,' she said with a smile.
'I didn’t really have it as a goal to win a medal. I had a big break and came out here to see how it goes and it went a lot better than I expected,' Bouwmeester added.
At the start of the final Laser Radial Medal Race Tenkanen found herself ahead of Young and made sure she kept her at bay, 'I didn’t get a very good start on upwind but I climbed a bit on the first downwind and chose the better gate mark,' said Tenkanen. 'I was before Alison and because Marit was so far in front I decided to ensure Alison stayed behind so the rest of the race I tried to cover her.'
Finishing in ninth and tenth place Tenkanen and Young could not be caught so Young, who won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma took bronze.
Tom Burton (AUS) put his ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma woes behind him in Hyères to claim a hard earned gold medal. Burton lost a commanding lead in Palma but chipped away at Tonci Stipanovic’s (CRO) advantage to come from behind and take Laser gold. Stipanovic (CRO) fell to third whilst Robert Scheidt (BRA) tastes silver on his Laser return.
'I was always coming from behind here whereas in Palma I was always in the front,' said Burton. 'It doesn’t make up for it but it’s good to learn from my experience and improve on it this.'
Burton has been ranked world number one in the Laser since December 2012 but doesn’t see himself as the guy to beat, 'Everyone is so good if you don’t sail well it doesn’t matter what your ranking is you’re going to get chopped. It’s good to be world number one and at the front as well.'
Daniel Mihelic (CRO) had a superb day on the water taking both race wins but being too far behind to take a medal he ended up fourth overall.
Charline Picon (FRA) lost a substantial Women’s RS:X lead after she was OCS in the first Medal Race. This put Bryony Shaw (GBR) and Blanca Manchon (ESP) in the driving seat going into the second Medal Race making it winner takes all.
Ahead of racing on the final day Shaw said, 'I’m really happy to be windsurfing. I had a good World Championship finished second and I want to keep the momentum going from that. That’s why I’m happy to be here and doing all the World Cups.'
Shaw has been prevalent on the World Cup circuit with a fourth in Miami and a second in Palma to move to world number three and showed she is one of the best at the moment by taking the final race win in Hyères to seal gold.
Manchon finished third to take silver whilst a seventh for Picon meant she won bronze.
Przemyslaw Miarczynski (POL) came back into the Men’s RS:X with a bang and notched up double bullets to claim gold. Compatriot Piotr Myszka came through in silver medal position and Julien Bontemps (FRA) concluded the podium.
'It was pretty hard and I’ve not trained a lot in the light conditions,' said Miarczynski, London 2012 bronze medallist, 'I didn’t expect to be so good in the light winds but preparing a lot in the winter time was helpful here.'
Poland boasts a strong RS:X contingent personified by them taking the top two spots in Hyères and Miarczynski is reaping the rewards, 'This is very good because we train together and it’s really helpful. We also have Pawel Tarnowski and he’s also very good and we’re three competing against each other so it’s very nice.'
Andrew Mills (GBR) overcame Giles Scott (GBR) in the Finn to take gold. Going into the last race the pair had secured the top two spots so it was winner takes all. 'We both needed to get a result in to secure silver at least in the first race and then the last race was just a match race between the two of us. It was whoever did the best would win,' Mills said.
Coming in third Mills was ahead of Scott who finished at the back of the pack and Mills was pleased to overcome his countryman, 'Giles is hard to beat at any point so to beat him and put myself up there is great.'
New Zealand’s Josh Junior had a great week and sailed himself to the bronze knocking Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) out of the medals.
Brazil’s Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA) turned their overnight Women’s 470 lead into another ISAF Sailing World Cup gold medal making it three in a row after Miami and Palma wins. 'It was so difficult today,' said Oliveira. 'We didn’t do good races and our starts were so bad. We are happy with the result and it’s good to win again. We’re going to have some days of rest, relaxing at home and then we’ll start training again.'
Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron (FRA) took the silver medal and Great Britain’s Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre took their second consecutive World Cup podium spot in third.
Double bullets on the last day for Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) secured them their fourth gold medal together since teaming up. For Belcher his unbeaten Men’s 470 run, that stems from November 2011, continues, 'To come into these events having won them last year and with a new partnership there’s high expectations,' said Belcher. 'To come away with another win with today’s condition and finish off by winning both Medal Races was fantastic.'
Ryan added, 'There’s been a full range of conditions and a lot of the top sailors have really come through. Everybody has had a few bad races along the way and I think every fleet saw really close racing so it’s been a really great event.'
Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) maintained their spot in second place and London 2012 Olympic bronze medallists Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) complete the top three.
Anything was possible on the final day in the Nacra 17 as just five points divided the top five.
The fleet were delayed due to fickle breeze and testing conditions that were prevalent on the course. Once racing got underway it was Sweden’s Tim Shuwalow and Hanna Klinga (SWE) who prevailed. They ended up tied on 59-points with Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) but based on the combined score of the Medal Races the Swedes took gold to win on count back.
Matias Buhler and Nathalie Brugger complete the podium.
Regattas in Melbourne, Miami, Palma and Hyères have made up the 2012-13 ISAF Sailing World Cup circuit with some great racing seen along the way.
With a busy summer of World Championships for the ten Olympic events attentions will turn back to World Cup duties starting at Qingdao, China in October 2013.