Hyeres Preview

Nigel Cherrie takes a look at this year's Hyeres Olympic Regatta...
The story of the 2002 Olympic regatta season begins for real on Sunday. Over 1000 crews from every corner of the globe, from aspiring Olympians to seasoned campaigners, have descended on the French Mediterranean port of Hyeres for the annual multi-Olympic classes regatta. This is where the season really gathers momentum. But with the Volvo Ocean Race still in full swing, the maxi-cat Orange tearing up the planet, the America’s Cup soon to be underway and another 847 days to the Athens Olympic Games, is this event significant in the present scheme of things? From a British perspective the answer is 50/50. RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park views Hyeres, along with next month’s SPA regatta and Kiel week in June, as a two-fold exercise. "It’s down to individual goals," he explained. "Not every event is an outcome regatta. Lots of those guys have process goals [starting, tuning etc] they have to deal with and in some cases that could mean more than the actual outcome. At the same time someone like Nick Rogers [in the 470 class with Joe Glanfield] will have in the back of his mind that he won here last year and will be keen to do the same again." Rogers is now amongst the very best in the class but is closely pursued by Graham Vials and Dan Newman. Park views Paul Goodison as another medal contender. Goodison is aiming to take over his mantle of his former training partner, Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie. Five-time world champion Robert Scheidt, who duelled with Ainslie over the last four years, has not swapped disciplines and is still regarded as the measure of performance. Ainslie himself is making his second appearance in the Finn. While he is enjoying the new challenge he is not expecting the podium finishes he