Three golds for Skandia Team GBR
The Medal races, as was the case with all racing this week at the 42nd Semaine Olympique Française in Hyeres, was held in light and shifty winds, providing a further test of sailors and race committee nerves alike.
With racing postponed for an hour, the 470 Men and the Star started behind schedule, as a consequence and sadly there was no time to race the RS:Xs.
Greece’s Byron Kokalanis was happy to keep his title, but, surprisingly, Piotr Myszka in second place was not disappointed to lose his chance to get Gold… “I am the happiest man not to have to race the medal race” declare the Polish sailor showing his hands covered in blisters!
So Kokalanis scored his second consecutive Sailing World Cup win. “I like these conditions and I am in good form. I did well in Palma so I am still rolling on the same wave.”
In the Women’s class, Britain’s Bryony Shaw scored her second straight Sailing World Cup podium position, winning by 18 points and enthusiastic to get her opponents, Blanca Manchon (ESP) and Laura Linares (ITA), on the stage set on the dock for a ‘wet’ prize giving: “It was a shame not to get out and do the medal race, but I’m really happy with the racing this week. It’s been really light winds, so hard work, but I’m dominating in the light winds and have had really consistent results this week so I’m really happy. I had the yellow jersey after day one so it was nice to keep that all week. I wasn’t necessarily expecting it but our training’s been going really well. It shows that all that is moving in the right direction.”
After losing his lead on the penultimate day, so Skandia Team GBR’s Paul Goodison showed the nerve which helped him to Olympic, World and European Championship victory. One point behind the series leader Javier Hernandez before the start of the race, the Spanish sailor picked up a third penalty of the series in the medal race, providing Goodison with the opportunity to secure his first World Cup title of the year, winning the medal race to seal gold overall with a 14-point margin over Andreas Geritzer with Hernandez claiming third.
“It feels pretty good to have come back from my first regatta again this year, and to have started this year like I started and finished last year, so I’m really in a positive mood,” Goodison explained. “The racing here has been quite tricky all week with the light winds – a lot of sitting around and waiting, but I think we’ve dealt with that quite well and have come away with the result we were after.”
One of the surprise results took place in the Laser Radial, which was won by Lithuania’s Ausra Mileviciute – her first victory in a Grade One event. Meanwhile for Skandia Team GBR’s Charlotte Dobson, who despite holding fourth going into today’s race, she claimed silver overall thanks to her victory in the medal race. This is Dobson first podium finish at a World Cup event since taking silver at the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta in 2008. Dobson was five points ahead of Belarus’ Tatiana Drozdovskay, winner of the Delta Lloyd regatta last year.
Croatia dominated the Finn class with Marin Misura claiming victory and Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic third, sandwiching France’s Thomas le Breton – his first Finn podium after departing the Laser class - while today’s medal race was won by another French sailor Jonathan Lobert.
The medal race saw a big shift on the second beat, upsetting the positions. “I had a good start and was duelling with Misura at the front, then a big shift lifted the sailors further back who rounded the mark in front of us.” explained Gaspic, upset with the race.
Top Skandia Team GBR in the Finn was Ed Wright who finished sixth overall after coming home fourth in the medal race.
Probably the biggest celebrations in the British team came from the victory of Paul Brotherton and Mark Asquith in the 49er. The old campaigners went into the final 49er race with a relatively comfortable eight point margin, but took no chances against tough opposition in their fleet. They finished ninth in the medal race, but with nearest rivals – Austria’s Nico Delle Karth and Nikolaus Resch – just two places ahead of them in the 10-boat double-points scoring finale and enough to hand the duo their first event victory since reuniting as a team last summer after six years apart.
“It wasn’t until it had been confirmed that [the win] felt good, but until that point we were on edge!” Asquith explained. “With the points margin, all we had to do was stay close to the competition and it panned out pretty well. We kept everything pretty chilled, the guys put us in positions where it was easy for us just to follow them round the track, so we were trying to keep our heads out and not let them get too far away from us.”
With the Austrians in second, the final step on the 49er podium was taken by France’s Julien Dortoli and Noe Delpech with British development squad 49er duo Dave Evans and Ed Powys making a strong finish to their regatta, just missing out on a podium finish in fourth.
France continued their domination of both 470 classes. Nicolas Charbonnier and Baptiste Meyer Dieu claimed victory in the Men ahead of Italy’s Gabrio Zandona and Pietro Zucchetti and Sweden’s Anton Dahlberg and Sebastian Ostling.
“This is an important victory for us because we didn’t meet our expectation in the first regattas of the year,” said Charbonnier. “Here, we wanted to perform well. This is our first victory in more than a year. We always have to increase our communication on board to be at the top. Baptiste is more and more comfortable. We are sometime in contradiction so we have to compromise.”
In the 470 Women, the medal race resulted in several place changes with French teams taking the two tops spots – Emmanuelle Rol and Hélène DeFrance claiming victory in the medal race knocking teammates Camille LeCointre and Mathilde Geron off the top spot and into second. Three points further adrift overall were Israel’s Gil Cohen and Dana Mamriav, third overall.
“This is our first victory together,” said Rol. “Furthermore, the management asked us to perform on this regatta. We are friends - this is our strength. Yesterday, we were fourth and very close to the girls ahead of us. Once again, we made a good medal race, we are comfortable on this part of the regatta.”
Skandia Team GBR sailors failed to make the medal race in either of the 470 classes.
In the Star, Norwegian Eivind Melleby and Petter Morland Ped increased their lead in the ISAF Sailing World Cup standings with another regatta win. The Norwegian have set their goal this year on winning the Sailing World Cup and are planning to compete in the next three SWC regattas. “We are concentrating on the Sailing World Cup this year, we think that this will help our campaign and help us find sponsors.” This left the French teams of Florent/Rambeau and Rohart/Ponsot, to take second and third place.
Silke Hahlbrock and her German team have been on fire for the last three days and claimed victory in the Women’s Match Racing dispatching the USA’s Anna Tunnicliffe 3-0 in the final, while France’s Claire Leroy won the Petite Finale against Australia’s Katie Spithill.
The paralympic classes raced two fleet races today. Damien Seguin won the 2.4mR event after winning four races, with Thierry Schmitter (NED) second ahead of Megan Pascoe (GBR). In the Sonar, Dror Cohen’s team (ISR), pipped the Dutch team of Marcel de Veen Van and Norway Aleksander Wang-Hansen at the post.
RYA Olympic Manager Stephen Park provided his assessment of this week’s performance by his team: “After such a testing week, it’s really fantastic to be leaving Hyeres with five medals. I’m really pleased for Bryony and Paul and Mark, who’ve been strong in these tricky conditions all week, and Paul Goodison as well, who’s shown he’s still the man to beat in the Laser class.
“A silver for Charlotte in the Laser Radial event is really well-deserved given all the hard work I know she’s put in during the winter, and it’s also good to see Megan Pascoe with her bronze challenging in the 2.4mR event.
“There are still a number of areas we can improve upon though – with the wealth of talent we have in the 470 men’s class, I was disappointed not to see any British boats make the medal race so that’s an area we’ll have to work on going forward.”
Full results here