Semaine Olympique Francaise - GBR crews in pole position
by Lindsey Bell on 26 Apr 2012
At the Semaine Olympique Francaise, a change in conditions made for a long day and tricky racing, but Britain’s Star crew of Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson and the Paralympic Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas are in pole position with two days of the event left to run.
Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson, Star. © Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR
With conditions becoming too windy on Tuesday, Hyeres instead served up a light wind start to this fourth day of competition, with delays to scheduled start times while the breeze built.
Percy and Simpson, the Beijing Olympic Star Champions made the best of a three-race day for the men’s keelboat class, capturing two race wins and a fifth to take the overall lead over Canadians Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn.
'I guess overall it was a good day,' said Percy. 'We won two races but we should have won three – we certainly had the speed to, but it got very patchy and light in the last race and we just got a bit unlucky on the last run and a group of three boats got past us which made it a little but frustrating to end like that.
'Overall, the good news is we’re really fast upwind – we’re struggling a little downwind which is unusual for us but we’re really fast upwind a nice place to be after a couple of years of not having that.'
Even after their three-race day, the Skandia Team GBR duo stayed out on the water to test sails. Percy explained: 'We had to tick off some light wind stuff I don’t think we’re going to be seeing light winds for a few days so it was our last chance even though it was dusk!'
In the Paralympic Sonar class, Robertson, Stodel and Thomas moved up two spots from their overnight position of third thanks to three consistent races of 2,3,5. They now have a narrow two-point cushion at the top of the leaderboard over the Norwegian crew, who picked up two race wins.
Elsewhere, Helena Lucas made ground on Dutchman Thierry Schmitter to advance to second in the 2,4mR Paralympic class, but is poised on equal points with Schmitter in third. Home hero Damien Seguin has amassed an 11 point lead, while in the SKUD fleet, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are two points behind the Australian team of Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch, who resumed the lead with two race wins today.
Alison Young will swap her yellow leader’s bib for a blue one on Thursday - fluky wind conditions on the Laser Radial course proved a tough test for all, with Young picking up two mid-teen results to see her drop to second but just one point behind the Netherlands’ first-placed Marit Bouwmeester. Charlotte Dobson also endured a tricky day, but remains in the top ten medal race positions in ninth overall.
Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor still have seven round robin bouts to go to complete their opening series in the women’s match racing event – they won three of their four matches on Wednesday, beating Julie Bossard (FRA) and Rita Goncalves (POR) before losing narrowly to Silja Lehtinen but ending a long day with a win over Silvia Roca (ESP).
The first day of gold fleet racing saw four races for the 49er class – Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes end the day in fourth, on equal points with the third-placed Danish crew, with Dave Evans-Ed Powys, John Pink-Rick Peacock and Dylan Fletcher-Alain in 11th, 12th and 15th respectively.
Skandia Team GBR’s development squad sailors made gains in the RS:X Women’s and Laser fleets, with Izzy Hamilton improving one place to 13th overall, and Alex Mills Barton in 16th in the Laser event.
Racing at the French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyeres is set to resume on Thursday 26 April, with the final medal races scheduled for Friday 27 April.
Skanida Team GBR website
Semaine Olympique Francaise website