Olympic classes in La Rochelle
The first day of the inaugural Semaine Olympique Française held in La Rochelle saw superstars of the sailing world rubbing shoulders with young hopefuls and them all having their sites set on for Rio 2016. One man who fits into both categories is Volvo Ocean Race winner, Franck Cammas, who has re-started his 2016 Olympic quest in earnest in the Nacra 17 after a September spent with his C-Class campaign.
The 27-strong fleet for the new mixed-crew Nacra 17 catamaran is particularly fluid in its first season. The crews of all ages and backgrounds are still getting used to the boats, with the new carbon masts arriving only two days ago to replace the aluminum ones.
Cammas and his crew, Sophie de Turckheim, are only competing at their third event together, and managed to recover to ninth place in the first race, but Cammas showed his tactical prowess off the start in the second race of the day as the sun went down: “You had to be on the right, but on the left of the right,” he explained with a smile.“The boat is very exciting and it’s hard to drive. We need to look around a bit because at the moment we are concentrating on the boat so much.”
De Turckheim suggested one reason for that, teasing Cammas: “Well, Franck has been away for September doing something else,” she said. “We are beginners at the moment, we are training while racing.”
Cammas has been drawn to the Olympic flame late at the age of 40 and has teamed up with the 32-year-old de Turkheim to make the oldest couple in the fleet. After an injury-hit outing in Hyères in May, when de Turckheim broke her sacrum, they finished a creditable sixth place in the European Championship on Lake Como in August. But with only one team from each country able to qualify from each nation for the Rio 2016 Olympics, the stakes will keep getting higher.
“It’s a dream to try and go to the Olympics, but there are so many good sailors in France in this boat that you have to get through that first.”
The second race, won by another Volvo Ocean Race sailor, Spain’s Iker Martinez, split the field with Vincenzo Sorrentino, the winner of the first race tearing his mainsail atthe start as the wind built towards 15-knots and the twin-hulled Nacra 17 flew along at 18-20 knots. Austria’s Thomas Zajac, second in the first race and world ranked number at the moment admitted to be foxed by the right shift. “The start favoured the right, but then halfway up the beat we could see the guys in the middle had so much more pressure and it was too late,” he said, “I don’t think we’re ranked number one in this fleet.”
With stronger more consistent winds forecast for Thursday the fleet is likely to be shaken up again. “I hope I wake up brave rather than scared,” said Pippa Wilson, one of Britain’s gold medalists in the Yngling at the Beijing 2008 Olympics, and one of Britain’s three female skippers here. F18 and Nacra 17 World Champion Billy Bresson and Marie Riou, 12th and 7th will hope they wake up brave too.
After a light start saw a four-hour delay the event came to life in the afternoon with keenly fought contests throughout the fleet of ten Olympic classes.
The 49ers and 470s were first out in 6-8 knots, racing the men and women at the same time. The aptly named Amy Seabright, the British women’s 470 skipper, leads after the first two races, showing better speed than most of the men’s teams. She and crew Anna Carpenter won the first race from the front and worked their way back to second place in the second race after a disastrous start saw them last off the line. But Seabright is more certain about how she will feel tomorrow. “I’m not looking forward to tomorrow because there’s going to be lots of wind,” she said. “That should separate the (men’s and women’s) fleet out a bit more. I think the Austrians (women) will do well, because they’re bigger.”
France’s Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion were even more dominant in the men’s 470, winning both races.
France’s Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis won the last two of the 49er races after finishing second in the first to head the leaderboard. As expected, France’s Sarah Steyaert and Julie Bossard dominated the women’s 49er FX, winning all three races.
In the men’s RS:X windsurfing France’s Pierre Le Coq leads countryman Julien Bontemps although neither won a race and the powerful Polish team are likely to push them hard all week. In the women’s RS:X, Poland’s Zofia Klepacka was the standout sailor, winning the second race after finishing second in the first.
With 63 laser sailors in La Rochelle, the fleet was split in two with Sweden’s Jesper Stalheim leading overall after winning his first race and finishing fourth in the second. In the women’s laser radial, France’s Pernille Michon won both races each time ahead of Denmark’s Line Flem Hoest.
The battle of the giants in the Finn saw honours shared at the top of a 21-strong fleet. Estonia’s Deniss Karpak was third and then second, but back from his America’s Cup with Luna Rossa, Britain’s Giles Scott, the 2011 Finn world champion, looked like he was straight back in the saddle, winning the second race after slipping to fifth in the first.
“It was a good start to a regatta a 5 and 1 but I would have been a lot happier if the 5 had been a 3 as it probably should have been,” Scott said. “In the second race I made a good start then me and (Jonathan) Lobert had a little battle, I tacked twice on him and he got a little bit out of phase and I managed to sail away a bit.”
Finn, after 3 races
1-Deniss Karpak ( EST) : 5 pts
2-Scott Giles ( GBR) : 6 pts
3-Piotr Kula ( POL) : 6 pts
49er FX, after 3 races
1-Sarah Steyaert / Julie Bossard (FRA): 5 pts
2-Marion Leprunier / Alizée Gadel ( FRA) : 9 pts
3-Lili Sebesi / Violette Lemercier ( FRA) : 10 pts
49er, after 3 races
1-Manu Dyen /Stéphane Christidis (FRA) : 4 pts
2-Stefano Cherin / Andrea Tesei ( ITA) : 8 pts
3-Giuseppe Angilella/ Pietro Zucchetti ( ITA) : 12 pts
470 Men after 2 races :
1-Sofian Bouvet / Jérémie Mion (FRA) : 2 pts
2-Sivitz Kosuta Simon / Farneti Jas ( ITA) : 5 pts
3-Nicolas Charbonnier / Sébastien Durand ( FRA) : 8 pts
470 Women, after 2 races
1-Amy Seabright / Anna Carpenter (GBR) : 3 pts
2-Francesca Komatar / Sveva Carraro ( ITA) : 4 pts
3-Lara Vadlau / Jolanta Ogar ( AUT) : 7 pts
RS : X Men, after 2 races
1-Pierre Le Coq ( FRA) : 6 pts
2- Julien Bontemps ( FRA) : 6 pts
3-Ivan Pastor (ESP) : 10 pts
RS : X Women, after 2 races
1-Sofia Klepacka ( POL) : 3 pts
2- Charline Picon ( FRA) : 7 pts
3-Moana Dell (GER) : 9 pts
Nacra 17, after 2 races
1-Audrey Ogereau / Matthieu Vandame (FRA) : 8 pts
2-Vittorio Bissaro / Silvia Sicouri ( ITA) : 10 pts
3-Iker Martinez / Tara Pacheco ( ESP) : 11 pts
Laser, after 2 races :
1-Jesper Stalheim ( SWE) : 5 pts
2- Ashley Brunning ( AUS) : 5 pts
3-Rutger Van Schaardenburg (NED) : 7 pts
Laser Radial, after 2 races :
1-Pernelle Michon (FRA) : 2 pts
2-Line Flem Hoest (NOR) : 4 pts
3-Marthe Eide Enger (NOR) : 7 pts