Day 5 - The boat breaking breeze returns to the Semaine Olympique Française
The line between revelling in the punchy conditions and overstepping the mark was a fine one for day 5 of the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyeres. There were those like Laser guru Tom Slingsby who excelled in the big breezes and breaking waves and others like Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson lost their rig, albeit while leading the race. Frustrating though it was, the breakage wasn’t enough to knock them off the top of the leaderboard as they head into the final medal races today (Friday). As a mark of the conditions, just 12 of the 25 boats finished the race.
Here’s the official report of the penultimate day:
Thursday April 26th
With another day of extreme conditions in the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, the sailors and racing committees have used this week lots of time and energy on the water. While some classes and especially the Women Match racing are behind schedule, other classes could enjoy a full programme dominated by breezy races. The famous Easterly wind has transformed overnight from calm sea into a carpet of rolling waves.
The 2012 SOF is a done deal for 470 womens Dutch team of Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout. The double world champions have already won the event today with an impressive 26 points lead over Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Géron (FRA).
“We have sailed a really good series with a very solid performance. No ups and downs, resulting in the fact that we are leading with more than 20 points. That is a really nice feeling, we want to do that again this year,” Berkhout said with a big smile.
The French who have steadily climbed up the results throughout the week are playing in Hyères their last Olympic “observation” regatta. “We sailed well this week in the breeze, the hard day was yesterday in the lighter and shifty winds, it was important we sailed well and without risk. We did our best and are happy with a second place so far.”
The battle for Silver will be tight in tomorrow’s medal race, with teams placed second to fifth within five points. The strong Japanese team of Ai Kondo ans Wakako Tabata and last year winners Pacheco/Betanzos (ESP) have won a race each and will be fierce opponents for the French in their quest for Silver.
Piotr Myszka (POL) is keeping his first position in the RS:X men but World Champion Julien Bontemps (FRA) is getting closer after claiming today’s races. The podium is open for the top six.
In the women’s division, Maja Dziarnwska (POL) is back at the top with a narrow two points lead over German Moana Delle and Charline Picon (FRA) another two points behind.
Tom Slingsby (AUS) takes another bullet to comfort his top place going into the Laser’s medal race.
“It was sort of my conditions out there today,” said Slingsby. “I was a bit sluggish off the line but once I got into a bit of a groove I was going nice and fast and was able to sail away for a win.
Going into the medal race anyone can win, I can’t concentrate on just one boat but it was always going to be one of those series after everyone was having good scores,” he said. “I’m happy that I sailed really well and have one more to go to try and win it.”
Philipp Buhl (GER) remains second while Andrew Murdoch (NZL) replaces team mate Andy Maloney (NZL) in third. The Croatians have performed well in the difficult racing conditions this week with three boats in the top ten. However with medals within reach of the top six, only Tonci Stipanovic could have a chance to climb on the podium on Friday.
With two victories in today’s races, Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) clearly enjoyed the wind and waves and are extending their lead to 18 points over European champions Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO). The Croatians trailed the Australians in both races to place second. “It was another challenging day, with strong wind and big waves, especially downwind was quite an undertaking not to capsize. We are very happy with our two second places, just behind the Aussie pair: it was quite a battle! We are looking forward to tomorrows medal race!”
The Coster brothers (NED) are placed third and have at the same time secured their NOC nomination for the Olympic Games.
The Star race was a survival operation with 13 boats retiring from the race. Among them, Olympic Champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR), broke their mast while in the lead. They are still leading the regatta with Swedish Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen climbing to second and Canadians Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn third. The race was won by the French team of Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot in fourth position.
Australian Brendan Casey won the only race sailed in the Finn. With average points awarded by the jury on yesterday races, the Australian gets to third position overall. “It was quite a long day as I had to replace the hull this morning then we launched, were sent back in due to the committee boat not being able to hold anchor and then eventually got one race in,” he said. “I was lucky that I had the opportunity to go out and tune up for the race that we didn’t have as I was able to come back in and make sure everything was sitting well. When we eventually got racing we had quite a strong breeze and big waves but it went really well and I came away with the win and am in a good spot heading into the medal race,” he said.
Rafa Trujillo (ESP) conserves the lead with Deniss Karpak (EST) second.
The extreme conditions kept the 49ers ashore today, however the leaders had changed this morning. Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis won their protest overnight against the New Zealand team of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in race seven and take the lead from World champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) placed a point behind in second. Only the top four can get to the podium after tomorrow’s medal race.
The top three remain unchanged in the Radial after two races sailed in the strong afternoon breeze and big waves. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) keeps her first place with race winners Lijia Xu (CHN) in second and Alison Young (GBR) third overall. The results are tight and the top seven can claim Gold in tomorrow’s medal race.
French team of Bruno Jourdren, Nicolas Vimont-Vicary et Eric Flageul won the only race in the Sonar and take the second place overall. The British John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas are keeping the lead. “It was pretty epic. It was pretty much near my limit I think really just for the wave conditions- it was a pretty short steep sea wind driven. Big, steep, with breakers on top – it was pretty full on, but good fun though.” explain Robertson. Aleksander Wang Hansen, Per Eugen Kristiansen and Marie Solberg (NOR) are in third position.
There was no racing today for the 2.4 and the Skud. The paralympic classes can race up to three races on Friday, weather permitting!
The tough conditions prevented the Match racing to conclude the round robins and with seven flights remaining, the finals seem to be an unlikely option. The leading teams are Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) who remains undefeated, followed by Skudina (RUS) and Barkow (USA) with 79% victories. The round robins will resume Friday at 8.30am.
The forecast for the last day of racing in Hyères is for very strong winds that could compromise racing.