The ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres will see Olympic medallists, World Champions and ISAF Sailing World Cup medallists compete as the 2013-2014 series draws to a close. More than 1,100 sailors across ten Olympic and two Paralympic events will race on the French Riviera from Monday 21 April through to Saturday 26 April.
Eighty Nacra 17's will line up in Hyères and includes nine of the world's top ten racers from the ISAF World Rankings. In excellent form with podium finishes at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and Mallorca is Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA).
The Italians picked up their first World Cup gold on Biscayne Bay, Miami and followed it up with a silver in Mallorca and like the way things are going, 'We are very happy about our results in Miami and Mallorca - these results show that we worked well but we know that the target to be achieved is still far,' said Bissaro.
Bissaro and Sicouri were convincing winners in Miami and were thankful for the work they'd put in leading up to their first World Cup appearance of the 2013-2014 series, 'During the winter, supported by the Italian Federation, we had really good training camp in Cagliari with the Austrian team [Thomas] Zajac and [Tanja] Frank,' Bissaro explained.
'We found both light and strong wind, and different kind of waves. We worked a lot on speed focusing on the handling and trimming of the boat and we now feel confident in any sea condition. That helps a lot because during racing we do not care too much about handling and we focus more than few months ago on tactics and strategy.'
As the Nacra 17 fleet continue to improve and learn how to get the best out of their boat the competition will be tight in Hyères. With confidence on the water the Italians will want to maintain their form as Bissaro concluded, 'Every race is such a great opportunity to understand and discover all the improvement areas. Every race is different and in Hyères we will fight with more than 80 teams as well, so we are just looking forward to performing well once again, nothing more.
'Moreover Hyères is a friend venue because both me and Silvia sailed a lot there during raid competitions with small beach cats like the F16-F18 in our early career.'
ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca gold medallists and Nacra 17 World Champions Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) narrowly missed out on gold at the regatta in 2013. They return to the south of France in good form having dominated the fleet in light and strong breeze in Mallorca.
Tim Shuwalow and Hanna Klinga (SWE) took the 2013 honours but Shuwalow will be joined by Celine Van Dooren for the 2014 edition whilst Klinga will sail in the 49erFX.
Other key racers in the fleet include Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS), Franck Cammas and Sophie de Turckheim (FRA) and world number one Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond (GBR).
The Men's 470 leader board at ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca was a topsy turvy affair with no team able to grab a stranglehold on the top spot.
2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca - Medal Race - Sime FANTELA and Igor MARENIC (470 Men) - Thom Touw
With the lead changing hands seemingly after every race it was Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) who gave themselves some daylight at the top of the pack going into the Medal Race. The Croatians got the job done and picked up their first gold of the 2013-2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup series after silver medals in Qingdao and Melbourne.
2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca - Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) during the 470 Men’s medal race - Thom Touw
Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) came away with silver from Mallorca whilst world number one Mat Belcher and Will Ryan (AUS) took bronze.
All three will sail in the 84-boat fleet at ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères and will be joined by world number two Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG), ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami gold medallists Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) and world number five Paul Snow Hansen and Dan Willcox (NZL).
New Zealand's Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie will venture into the 54-boat Women's 470 fleet as the ones to beat. In their last eight regatta appearances the Kiwis have taken seven gold medals and a silver and are currently on a run of three straight victories from the 2013 470 Worlds and ISAF Sailing World Cup Qingdao and Mallorca.
Aiming to halt their progress in Hyères will be world number one Camille Lecointre and Hélène Defrance (FRA), world number three Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre (GBR) and ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca bronze medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR).
World number one 49erFX duo Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) were cool, calm and collected in Mallorca as they took gold despite a strong challenge from Ida Marie Baad Nielsen and Marie Thusgaard Olsen (DEN). The Brazilians sealed the deal on the final day to make up for missing out on a podium finish in Miami.
Grael and Kunze will be part of the 43-boat fleet in Hyères that features 2013 victors Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL), world number two Charlotte Dobson and Sophie Ainsworth (GBR), world number three Giulia Conti and Francesca Clapcich (ITA) and strong Danish, French, German and Swedish contingents.
New Zealand's Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are the pair to beat at the moment in the 49er and will spearhead the 80-boat fleet in Hyères. The Kiwis are on a run of three straight victories that include European, World and 2014 ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca honours and will be looking to extend their run in France.
ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères sees London 2012 gold medallists Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) make only their second 49er appearance since the 2013 World Championship. The pair won gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne but in a stronger fleet they will have their work cut out to hit the podium.
Other racers in form include world number one Julien D'Ortoli and Noe Delpech (FRA), Mallorca medallists Jonas Warrer and Peter Lang (DEN) and Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign (GBR).
Seventeen 2.4mRs will take to the start line and the fleet includes Miami gold medallist Megan Pascoe (GBR) and Mallorca victor Helena Lucas (GBR).
The British sailors battled hard against each other in USA and Spain and it's set to resume in France.
The top six from the Sonar fleet at the London 2012 Paralympic Sailing Competition will take to the start line in Hyères with eight teams set to line up.
Gold medallists Udo Hessels, Marcel van de Veen and Mischa Rossen (NED), silver medallists Jens Kroker, Siegmund Mainka and Robert Prem (GER) and Aleksander Wang-Hansen, Marie Solberg and Per Eugen Kristiansen (NOR) will all be amongst the fleet.
Racing commences on Monday 21 April across ten Olympic and two Paralympic events in Hyères, France. The Medal Races on Saturday 26 April will bring the regatta to a close. Event website ISAF SWC Website