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Tokyo Olympians and Paris 2024 hopefuls qualify for Medal Races at French Olympic Week Hyères Day 5

by Cora Zillich/Australian Sailing 29 Apr 17:57 PDT 25-30 April 2022
Breiana Whitehead (Formula Kite) competing at French Olympic Week Hyères © Beau Outteridge / Australian Sailing Team

Australian Sailing Team (AST) and Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) athletes have secured four spots in the French Olympic Week Hyères medal races after qualifying in the ILCA 7, ILCA 6 and Nacra 17 as well as in the Formular Kite Women events. Medal races are scheduled to take place on Saturday, 30 April 2022 from 11 a.m. CET (7 p.m. AEDT).

Tokyo Olympians Matt Wearn (WA), OAM, Mara Stransky (QLD) as well as Jason Waterhouse (NSW) and Lisa Darmanin (NSW) made the final top ten cut in the ILCA 7, ILCA 6, and Nacra 17 respectively, while Breiana Whitehead (QLD) qualified for the top-14 Formular Kite Women medal series with the kite to premier on the Paris 2024 programme.

It was a tumultuous day in light winds on Friday that saw Olympic Champion Matt Wearn drop from third into sixth place in the ILCA 7 (former Laser) after scoring a 14th and 15th place. With just three points separating the four boats at the top of the leader board and with Wearn 16 points behind the leader Philipp Buhl from Germany, it will all come down to the wire in Saturday's double points medal race.

Wearn was the only Australian to make the final cut on the penultimate day of racing, after Finn Alexander (NSW) just missed out of the top ten in 12th. Luke Elliott (WA) wrapped up the regatta in 21st with Ethan McAullay (WA) following in 25th. A UFD in the first race of the day saw Zac Littlewood drop to 34th.

The ILCA 7 world championships in Mexico will be up next for the squad (21-28 May) and while many struggled for consistency on the last day of the final series, they will take confidence from the gold fleet racing and several top ten results throughout the week.

In the ILCA 6 (former Laser Radial), Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky was the surprise of the day when she qualified for the medal race in ninth place. The 23-year-old had an average first couple of days of the regatta, but scored a second place on day three. A 16th and an eighth on Friday and some high scores in the fleet saw her jump up the ranks from 17th to ninth.

"I felt quite confident in the conditions and my aim was to have the best day I could and see what happens. It's been a high scoring regatta and people have been up and down all over the place, but you can't control what other people do and my plan was to just put it together. It didn't go quite as I had hoped, but I'm pretty happy that it was just enough to scrape me through," Stransky said, who made her first medal race at Hyères after just missing out in 2019.

"I have done one regatta here before and I slid out of the medal race on the last day of finals and missed it by one point. I took that pretty hard, so it's quite satisfying to finally finish that off," Stransky added.

The day did not go as well for the rest of the Australian ILCA 6 squad with Zoe Thomson (WA) finishing the regatta in 18th after a sixth and 45th on Friday. Casey Imeneo (VIC) finished the week in 21st while Elyse Ainsworth (WA) placed 28th.

Rio silver medallists and Tokyo fifth placed Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin added another medal race spot in the Nacra 17 to the Australian tally, qualifying in fifth place.

Hyères is the first regatta back in the Nacra 17 since the Tokyo Olympic Games for the cousins, who finished off the qualifying series scoring a 14th, second and sixth place. But with a 29-point gap to third place, they will be out of medal contention in Saturday's medal race.

Hyères has been featuring all ten Paris 2024 Olympic classes this week with the Formular Kite to premier on the Olympic programme in two-year's time. Australian Sailing Squad's Breiana Whitehead has been looking strong in her second event on the Olympic circuit, finishing the qualifying series in overall tenth.

"It was pretty light today but we still managed to get all four races in. I had a few top places and made a few mistakes but I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot and looking forward to racing tomorrow (Saturday)," Whitehead said after a mixed day scoring a 23, 8, 4, 25 series.

"I'm really excited to make it to the final series. To go from Palma to here and get some really good scores on the board is exciting and I'm looking forward to seeing where I'm going to fit."

For this Olympiad, some classes are entirely new to the Olympics, some have changed their equipment and some, like the 470s, have changed their crew with the class becoming a mixed boat for the Paris 2024 Olympics. Racing has been super close and exciting to watch with Australia's two crews, coached by dual Olympic champion Malcolm Page, OAM, right in the thick of it. Both made the gold fleet on Wednesday, but despite some strong racing it was not enough to make the final cut with only one race possible on Friday as the wind dropped off.

Chris Charlwood (WA) and Amelia Catt (TAS) finished as the top ranked Australian boat in 12th after scoring another top ten finish and ninth place with only two points separating the pair from the medal race. Nia Jerwood (WA) and Conor Nicholas (WA) scored a 25th to finish the regatta in 18th.

New to the Olympic programme are also the iQFOiL women and men events with Australian Sailing Squad's Grae Morris (NSW) making the most of his international debut on the Olympic circuit to gain experience against the strong Europeans in the class.

"I came here to learn for the next regattas and I certainly learnt a lot." Morris said, after finishing 30th after two slalom races on Friday and despite breaking his foil box on day two and missing five races because of it.

"I had a gear failure on day two which made me pick up quite a few points and that put me back from my good scoring on day one," Morris explained.

"I've been in Australia for two years now, training on the kit and it was just all about speed and hoping that when I come over here, I'm not completely behind. Coming over here was all about getting experience and knowledge within the fleet and honestly, it's been amazing to get back out here with all the top dogs and seeing where we are and just knowing that all the training in Australia really paid off. We are quite confident about what to do when we get back home, so it's all positive from now and I'm fired up and ready for the Euros," the 19-year-old added confidently.

Fellow Australian Sailing Squad athlete Caelin Winchcombe (WA) finished 40th while Australian Sailing Future's Will McMillan (NSW) finished 19th. The team will be heading to the iQFOiL European Championships at Lake Garda in Italy next (May 15 - 22).

In other results, the 49er wrapped up the French Olympic week with three boats in the gold fleet and with Tom Needham (QLD) and Joel Turner (QLD) the top ranked boat in 18th. Jim Colley (NSW) and Shaun O'Connor (NSW) finished the week in 23rd, while Jack Ferguson (NSW) and Max Paul (NSW) followed in 25th. Laura Harding (VIC) and Annie Wilmot (NSW) finished 17th in the 49erFX.

The 2022 French Olympic Week Hyères was only the second international regatta back for the Australian Sailing Team and Australian Sailing Squad after two years away from the international circuit and big-fleet racing. And while four medal races are an upward trend from two at the first event at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma - Hempel Sailing World Cup (1-9 April), Technical Director Michael Blackburn also noted several areas to work on.

"We are encouraged that we have four boats in medal races rather than the two we had in Palma. It's two years out from Paris, but it's also been two years that our guys had off competing at this level of competition, which has had an impact on the experience, especially as far as their starting skills are concerned. That's a key area the guys are learning a lot about and I think there is some more opportunity to be gained out of that, as well as out of maximising our time in Europe. It is clear that we have to be in Europe with most of the classes," Blackburn said.

"In the new classes we have some encouraging signs and in Brei and Grae we have some young guys who got some great skills. We've been running development programmes for a few years, but it also takes a long time to develop really good athletes and we still have some catching up to do in the kites and the boards," Blackburn added.

Apart from the athletes, Blackburn also praised the work of the new coaching team.

"The guys have obviously been very excited to get over here and start racing but we also put a lot of work into getting a really good coaching team together and we have done some work on how we all integrate and work together and that is all starting to pay off. There is a bit more across-class pollination of ideas and I think that will be really beneficial," Blackburn added.

The 53rd edition of the French Olympic Week Hyeres will wrap up on Saturday, 30 April 2022 with the medal races and medal series with racing scheduled to start at 11 am.

Start times Medal Races & Medal Series with AUS boats:

ILCA 7 - 11:00 CET | 19:00 AEDT
ILCA 6 - 11:40 CET | 19:40 AEDT
Kite Women - 12:00 CET | 20:00 AEDT
Nacra 17 - 12:20 CET | 20:20 AEDT

Follow results here: sof.ffvoile.fr/results

The live race status can be followed here: dashboard-sof.sailti.com/en/default/races/race-directcomplet

Saturday April 30: Medal Races | Prize giving and closing ceremony

Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) results and overall placings:

470 Mixed Gold fleet - 9 races (one drop)

12th - Chris Charlwood and Amelia Catt (ASS) 2, 6, 11, 5, 9, 10 | (18), 8, 9 = 60 points
18th - Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas (ASS) 10, 11, 7, 9, 13, 5 | (19), 10, 25 = 84

470 Mixed Silver fleet - 8 races (one drop)

43rd - Sophie Jackson and Angus Higgins (ASF) (24), 21, 20, 19, 23, 24 | 13, 5, 19 = 144

49er Gold fleet - 15 races (one drop)

18th - Tom Needham and Joel Turner (ASS) 7, 14, 8, 10, 13, 9, 10, 13, 17 | 12, 21, 19, (23), 14, 10 = 177 points
23rd - Jim Colley and Shaun O'Connor (ASS) 9, 18, 8, 13, 17, 18, 14, 7, 13 | 21, 12, (26), 15, 20, 23 = 208
25th - Jack Ferguson and Max Paul (ASS) 10, 19, 13, (30), 3, 14, 3, 23, 25 | 20, 23, 5, 17, 12, 24 = 211

49er Silver fleet - 12 races (one drop)

40th - Tom Burton and Simon Hoffmann (ASS) 16, 9, 22, 20, 2, 16, 21, 26, UFD (32) | 16, 9, 14 = 171 points
48th - Otto Henry and Miles Davey (ASF) RET (32), DNS 32, DNF 32, BFD 32, 12, 21, 26, 18, 16 | 7, 6, 15 = 217
51st - Ryan Littlechild (ASF) and Jack Hildebrand (ASF) DNF (32), 26, 25, 28, 20, 27, 27, 28, 24 | 4, 17, 7 = 233

49erFX Gold fleet - 15 races (one drop)

17th - Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot (ASS) 4, 6, 3, 12, 14, 7, 6, 7, DSQ (20) | 9, 5, 18, 18, 6, 19 = 134 points

49erFX Silver fleet - 11 races (one drop)

25th - Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (ASS) 13, 2, 11, 14, 5, DNF (20), UFD (20), 13, 9 | 5, 7 = 99 points

Formula Kite Women - 20 races (three drops)

10th - Breiana Whitehead (ASS) 20, 7, 12, 5, 21, (22), 8, 15, 16, 15, 16, 5, 17, 12, 4, 6, (23), 8, 4, (25) = 191 points

Formula Kite Male Silver Fleet - 19 races (three drops)

38th - Zac Pullen (ASF) 12, (DNF), 15, (16), 10, 15, 13, 10, 8, 15, 8, 10 | 10, 13, (16), 14, 9, 11, 9 = 182 points

Formula Kite Male Bronze Fleet - 19 races (three drops)

47th - Alex Landwehr (ASF) 15, 16, 16, (17), 14, 9, 12, 12, DNF, 15, DNF, 13 | 1, 1, 1, 3, 8, 2, 3 = 141 points

ILCA 7 - Gold Fleet - 10 races (one drop)

6th - Matt Wearn (AST) (2), 1, 1, 1, 1, (UFD, 44) | 15, 4, 14, 15 = 54 points
12th - Finn Alexander (ASS) 3, 10, 5, 4, 3, 14 | 12, 7, 24, (35) = 81
21st - Luke Elliott (AST) 9, 7, 4, 14, 9, 17 | 13, 10, (31), 27 = 110
25th - Ethan McAullay (ASS) 4, 24, 20, 15, 7, 1 | (35), 26, 15, 25 = 137
34th - Zac Littlewood (AST) 1, 13, 22, 6, 7, 9 | 27, 35, UFD (44), 37 = 157

ILCA 7 - Silver Fleet - 9 races (one drop)

48th - Samuel King (ASF) 25, 11, (30), 27, 17, 12 | 4, 15, 12 = 123 points
80th - Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF) 32, 30, 19, 27, 22, 19 | (41), 23, 26 = 198
83rd - Michael Compton (ASF) 27, 30, 36, (37), 14, 17 | 23, 29, 33 = 209

ILCA 6 - 10 races (one drop)

9th - Mara Stransky (AST) 20, 28, 12, 13, 27, 2, (45), 29, 16, 8 = 155 points
18th - Zoe Thomson (ASS) 13, 16, (BFD), 9, 10, 13, 33, 42, 6, 45 = 186
21st - Casey Imeneo (ASS) 39, 26, 35, 3, 1, 15, 39, 4, 36, (40) = 196
28th - Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) 31, 39, 21, 20, (51), 20, 25, 7, 34, 24 = 220
51st - Paige Caldecoat (ASF) 53, 54, 38, 34, 48, 18, 43, (BFD), 40, 56 = 383

iQFOiL - 16 races (three drops)

19th - Will McMillan (ASF) 5, 9, 14, 3, 11, 17, 2, 21, 9, 33, 9, BFD (39), (35), (44), 33, 35 = 200 points
30th - Grae Morris (ASS) 25, 11, 15, 15, 12, DNC (57), DNC (57), DNC (57), DNC 57, DNC 57, 23, 17, 13, 25, 23, 13 = 306
36th - Harry Joyner (ASF) (41), 31, 34, 29, 40, 29, 39, (45), (41), 12, 19, 19, 33, 21, 21, 15 = 341
40th - Caelin Winchcombe (ASS) 39, (43), 43, (47), 36, 38, 34, 42, 34, (47), 21, 27, 21, 26, 21, 19 = 401

iQFOiL - 15 races (three drops)

19th - Natasha Bryant (ASF) 17, 19, 15, (29), 21, (24), 16, 19, 18, 20, (27), 13, 14, 13, 15 = 200 points
25th - Samantha Costin (ASF) 21, 21, 18, (26), 20, 23, (26), 22, 24, 22, 23, 23, 26, 21, DNF (33) = 217

Nacra 17, 15 races (one drop)

5th - Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AST) 4, 9, 5, 2, 7, 7, 6, 4, 8, 5, (21), 8, 14, 2, 6 = 87 points
15th - Jake Liddell and Lucy Copeland (ASS) 11, 20, 14, 14, 13, 21, 11, 14, 18, 15, (24), 16, 11, 13, 11 = 202

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