Semaine Olympique Francaise de Voile, the ISAF Sailing World Cup second European stop, third day of racing got off to an early start which seemed to have no ill effects on Britain’s Star, Sonar and 49er sailors, nor Alison Young who extended her lead in the Laser Radial fleet heading in to the second half of the week.
Tuesday, 24th April, signalled a return to strong wind conditions and a 0900 start for a number of classes, with event organisers anxious to ensure some racing before the breeze became too much, with gusts of up to 35 knots witnessed during the afternoon.
The Star and Sonar classes were among the first to race, with Skandia Team GBR’s Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson closing in on the Canadian event leaders in the Star, Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn, by winning what turned out to be the only race of the day, while in the Paralympic Sonar event, John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas put their 12th from race three yesterday behind them by adding another win to their scorecard and pull them into the top three after four races.
John Robertson, Stephen Thomas and Hannah Stodel, Sonar. Semaine Olympique Francaise 2012 - © Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR Click Here to view large photo
Stodel, who’ll race for ParalympicsGB this summer with Robertson and Thomas, has been enjoying the windy conditions experienced so far in Hyeres.
'It’s been a while since we actually sailed in this kind of breeze, so it’s nice to come back and put the boat through its paces. We’ve brought the new boat here and are testing a few things, and I’m pleased to say it’s going well!
'It was honking [today] – we managed to pull away from the fleet and stay clear to win the race, so we’re happy.'
'The 9 o’clock start was not ideal,' Stodel admitted. 'People don’t realise that we’re not Laser sailors and we can’t roll out of bed five minutes beforehand and just throw a wetsuit on. Unfortunately for John that meant a 4.30am start this morning so I think he’s feeling it now!'
'This week we’re just working on all the stuff we’ve been training with – the new things on the boat, testing some sails, and hopefully this is going to be the cut off regatta that we’re going to have everything ready for the Games, so it’s nice to put everything through its paces really,' Stodel explained.
'We’re keeping an eye out on the competition, but it’s mainly equipment [focus] for us - it’s nice to be racing anyway!'
Skandia Team GBR’s 49er sailors made the best of their only race of the day, with Dave Evans and Ed Powys crossing the line with a sizeable winning margin, but just behind them in that race were Beijing Olympians Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes who top the leaderboard by one point after five races.
John Pink and Rick Peacock are fifth overall with a seventh from their race today, Evans and Powys move up to 12th, with Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign in 16th.
By early afternoon, any further prospect of racing for most classes had been abandoned – GBR’s women’s match racing trio, plus the 2.4mR and SKUD sailors never left the shore – so it was down to the Laser Radial class to provide the racing focus. Alison Young once again revelled in the breezy conditions, picking up a 2,1 from her two races in the yellow fleet to extend her lead to four points over Australia’s Krystal Weir, with World Champion Marit Bouwmeester in third.
'It definitely gets harder from here going into the gold fleet,' said Young, looking ahead to the rest of the regatta.
'There are four races and the medal race to go, so still a lot of racing. I just need to be consistent for the remaining races.
'The legs are keeping it together,' she said of the physical conditions. 'It would be good to have a bit more light wind racing, to make it a bit more of a thinking game, but we’ll take whatever we get!'
Fellow 2012 hopeful Charlotte Dobson also had a strong day in the Radial blue fleet, posting 5,2 to see her up to fifth overall and within reach of the podium spots.
Skandia Team GBR’s development squad sailors showed their promise in the RS:X Women’s and Laser events – Izzy Hamilton is 14th overall, while Alex Mills Barton is in 19th in the Laser class with 6,7 for his efforts today.
Racing at the French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyeres is set to resume on Wednesday 25 April, with the final medal races scheduled for Friday 27 April.
Skandia Team GBR website
by Lindsey Bell
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4:18 PM Tue 24 Apr 2012GMT
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2012 Semaine Olympique Francaise (Hyeres)
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