Photos: Guillaume Durand/DPPI/FFV

Fine start

Lively conditions for the opening day of racing at the Semaine Olympique Francais in Hyeres

Sunday April 24th 2011, Author: Corinne Rolland-McKenzie, Location: United Kingdom

Perfect conditions blessed the first day of competition at the Semaine Olympique Française, the fourth event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup.

The easterly breeze of 12-18 knots across the seven different racing areas, big waves and sun provided for excellent racing in Hyères where many favourites took the honours.

ISAF Sailor of the Year, Tom Slingsby (AUS) had a fine start with two bullets in the Laser. The Australian, renown for his sailing skills in breeze has dominated the competition in one of the three Laser groups. Simon Grotelueschen (GER) had his best day ever in the with two bullets in his group. Brazilian Bruno Fontes also put in a good performance to finish third overall after scoring two seconds.

World no1 in the Laser Radial, the Netherland's Marit Bouwmeester is setting the pace with two victories. “That was great - stable winds, I love it," she said. "Perfect sailing conditions. Tomorrow we will need more patience as they expect a sea breeze."

Other victories went to Britain's Alison Young and Belgian Evi van Acker who are second and fourth place overall with France's Sarah Steyaert third.

The British Armada continues to dominate the Finn fleet. Ben Ainslie is continuing on his good form winning both races in the breeze. Giles Scott, the Rolex Miami OCR champion, won a race in his group and a second to place second ahead of PJ Postma (NED) while Andrew Mills and Ed Wright are one point behind in fourth and fifth overall.

British team coach Matt Howard took this first day philosophically: “You can’t win the regatta on the first day, but you can lose it so in that respect it’s a good start. We were strong today but it’s all about the gold fleet racing towards the end of the week and there’s a lot of points to be won and lost between now and then.”

The favourites are in command in the RS:X with today's results copying the Olympic podium: Tom Ashley, is first after top three placings, with Julien Bontemps (FRA) in second after a sixth and two bullets and Shahar Zubari (ISR) third.

Among the RS:X Women, Spanish World Champion Blanca Manchon won two races and with a second is dominating, eight points ahead of  Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) and Eugénie Ricard (FRA).

In the 470 Women, Spain's Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos mastered the conditions to finish fourth in the first race and win the second to take the lead, two points ahead of Gil Cohen and Bouskila Vered (ISR) and 2009 Hyères winners Henriette Koch and Lene Sommer (DEN).

Results are tight among the 470 Men where Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) are leading on equal points with Palma winners Nicolas Charbonnier and Jérémie Mion (FRA) and a point ahead of from Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA) who won the last race.

The 49er today saw the US duo of Erik Storck and Trevor Moore make the best of the conditions with a third and two bullets giving them a good six points lead. Palma winners France's Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis had a consistent day with top six finishes, placing them in second overall. Unfortunately, a cartwheel capsize on the way back to the harbour resulted in a dislocated shoulder for skipper Manu Dyen. “It is real bad news, we were in a good dynamic," commented sailing partner Stéphane Christidis. "Now Manu needs to be immobilised for at least three weeks. We hope to be ready for Sail For Gold and show we can bounce back.”

Quadriple Olympic champion, Brazil's Robert Scheidt with Bruno Prada leads the score in the strong Star fleet, but they are only one point ahead of the US' George Szabo and Mark Strube.

French teams have taken all in the Sonar and 2.4mR. Last year's winner, Damien Seguin posted the bullets while his main rival Thierry Schmitter was penalised with a start disqualification after placing second. So British ladies Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas are in second and third overall.

Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont Vicary are dominating the seven boat fleet in the Sonar, while Skandia Team GBR's Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell are leading the Skud ahead team mates Alex Hovden and Kate Mannerings.

The Women’s Match Racing started at 1000 and finished the 40th match of the day eight hours later! The 24 teams are divided into three groups for the Stage One round robins. Seven teams remain undefeated in their respective groups: Claire Leroy (FRA), Sally Barkow (USA), Silvia Roca (ESP), Ekaterina Skudina (RUS), Tamara Echegoyen (ESP), Lucy Macgregor (GBR), and Renee Groeneveld (NED).

Stage One will continue tomorrow. The top two teams from each group will move into the Gold Group and the next two will move into the Repechage Group. The Repechage Group will sail a round robin to determine who will join the Gold Group in the knock-out quarter-finals.

Racing will start early on Monday for the second day of the competition. The race committee has decided to make the most of the remains of the easterly wind before the sea breeze, expected later in the day, come and upset the schedule.

Results:  RS:X Men, RS:X Women, Laser, Laser Radial, Finn, 49er, 470 Men, 470 Women, Star, Women's Match Racing, 2.4mR, Sonar, Skud


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