Ups, Downs And Unpredictability In Hyères - 49er FX Fleet
Issued on behalf of ISAF Sailing World Cup
The new ISAF Sailing World Cup format of 40 boats per fleet is stirring up exceptional competition in Hyères following another day of ups, downs and unpredictability.
Close, tactical racing with minimal separations across the ten Olympic and two Paralympic has excited the world's top sailing athletes with Saturday's fleet racing to decide the positions for Sunday's live Medal Races.
Light, shifty breeze was present across the five race courses and racing got underway in a variable breeze between 3-8 knots.
It was another day of up and downs in the Finn fleet with only the leader Giles Scott (GBR) demonstrating consistency.
Scott posted an eighth and a fourth which extends his lead over British rival Ed Wright. Scott is 14 points clear of Wright and another day of dominance could seal the deal for Scott and extend his winning run. No other sailor was able to string together two top ten results on the day.
The opening bout went the way of Caleb Paine (USA) as he explained, "I had a great start and worked my way over to the right side. I had some great pressure over there and connected with it, I had the legs from there and it was pretty easy after that.”
Easy, for a world class athlete and Olympic hopeful. Getting an edge has proved difficult in such a highly competitive fleet and Paine explained what's required to achieve such results, "You have to look for the small opportunity that's there and sort of look around at the race course and judge what may happen later on in the race.
"It's like predicting the future and only when you get it right you get a result like that.
"There are a lot of great guys especially when it's really compact and with only 40 boats it's really tight competition. I like it and I like the format and I'm looking forward to seeing how it continues.”
Paine's start in the second bout didn't quite match his opening race but he battled back to finish 21st, "You win some, you lose and that's sail boat racing,” concluded the American.
At the end of the day Paine sits eighth overall.
Greece's Ioannis Mitakis took the second race victory and currently occupies the final Medal Race position with fleet two races remaining.
From six Women's 470 races, five teams have taken race victories. Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA) picked up their second of the week on the third day and lead by one point. For Switzerland's Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler, Friday's racing saw them pick up their first to move up to seventh overall.
The Swiss pair enjoyed the day and followed up with a ninth to bolster their chances. After racing Fahrni said, "Yesterday was not a good day for us, it just wasn't working. The day before was okay but today was okay. We've had some ups and downs.
"In the first race we had a great start and we were going to the left and got first at the upwind mark and we kept it until the end. It was our wind today. In Switzerland we only have these winds. We are specialists and we are superfast, we really liked it.”
At the front of the pack are Brazil's Oliveira and Barbachan, winners of the 2013 edition in Hyères, who are just one point ahead of Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA).
They opened with a 13th and concluded the day with a bullet to hold the lead and Oliveira was pleased with her day of work, "We were fast in the light winds so it was a very good day for us. We are happy and we still have two races to go before the Medal Race tomorrow but we are happy to be here again and we are trying to do our best.”
The Women's 470 is packed full of some of the world's most technically gifted female sailors. Anything can change in an instant with mistakes duly punished as Oliveira added, "The level of the fleet is very high and it's difficult for everybody. If you look at the results in the 470 women you will see that it is very up and down, up and down.
"You have to try and do your best all the time, never give up. Each point that you gain is vital. At some point in time, you will need that extra point.”
Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance (FRA) were the winners on the day posting a 2-4 scoreline. They are four points off the leaders in third.
There was some fighting between 470 leaders Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) and Gabrio Zandona and Andrea Trani (ITA) which resulted in some mixed results for both teams.
The Croatians opened their day with a fifth with the Italians posting a third but the second race of the day worked in the Italians favour as Fantela explained, "We had a fight with Gabrio on the pin end of the start and we touched the pin end boat.
"We had to do a 360 and at that moment we were at least 30 metres behind the whole fleet,” emphasised Fantela. "We started in the last position, fighting, fighting, fighting back.”
The Italians worked their way through the fleet, moving up and down, eventually finishing in 14th but things did not quite go the Croatians way as Fantela continued, "We managed to climb up to 20-25 in the first downwind and then in the second upwind we were so slow and we had to check the centreboard and we had a bag on it. We went down again and managed a good final downwind to climb up to 25th.
"It is a bad result but at least it's not 40. Until now it was good. We didn't use up our discard until that race.”
The Croatians lead on 19 points. The Italians follow on 30 points with Jordi Xammar and Joan Herp (ESP) third on 34 points.
Even though Fantela and Marenic lead by 11 points they are under no illusion that the job is done and will go back to basics for the penultimate day on Saturday, "We will enter tomorrow like it's the first day. We'll forget about the last three days. We'll try to do our best and see what happens.
"Then we will calculate for the Medal Race. You can win and lose a lot from tomorrow's two races so we won't think about the boats around us. We'll stay relaxed, motivated and calm. Then we'll see how it works.”
Laser and Laser Radial
Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) reduced Tom Burton's (AUS) lead in the Laser and has his sights firmly set on him with two fleet races remaining.
The Croatian's 3-8 pulls him to within five points of the Australian after he notched up an 11-5 and he has a plan for the penultimate day of racing, "I will try to sail the first race the best I can and finish in the top three and if possible, try and win it.
"After that, if everything is between me and him [Burton] I will maybe try and to go on him because he's discarding 31 and I'm discarding just eight. I think I'm in a good position but we'll have to wait for the first race tomorrow.”
Burton leads on 23 points followed by Stipanovic on 28. Nicholas Heiner (NED) is firmly in contention in third on 32 points.
Racing in the Laser has been about making gains when and where possible. Making big gains on Friday was Italy's Giovanni Coccoluto.
The young Italian had posted a 32-23-37-(40) in advance of Friday's but hit top form, fighting up the pack taking a 13-4. "I sailed very badly over the last two days so I knew I needed to change something,” commented Coccoluto. "I took some more risks and they paid off. I know I could have sailed better but compared to the last two days it's a good one for me.
"I took more risks at the start, starting at one end and it was a good choice.
"I just thought about sailing fast and taking good shifts but I made mistakes today. It was better than the other days so it's okay.”
In the Laser Radial, Evi Van Acker (BEL) edged ahead of Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) following a 7-2 compared to the Danes 12-3.
Van Acker tops the leader board on 19 points with Rindom second on 25 points. Gintare Scheidt (LTU) is third.
The eighth placed Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and fourth placed Josefin Olsson (SWE) secured the day's victories.
Towards the end of the day in Hyères the wind began to die which resulted in only a single race for the Nacra 17 fleet.
Puerto Rico's experienced multihull specialist Enrique Figueroa and Franchesca Valdes Ortega took the race win in the challenging light breeze by just three seconds over Darren Bundock and Nina Curtis (AUS).
The result lifts the Puerto Ricans up to 22nd.
Billy Besson and Marie Riou (FRA) continue to lead the fleet following a 12th. They sit on 28 points followed by Lin Ea Cenholt Christiansen and Christian Peter Lübeck (DEN) on 40 points and Mandy Mulder and Coen de Koning (NED) on 42 points.
49er and 49erFX
It was another successful day on the water for Ida Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen (DEN) who remain in the top spot of the 49erFX leader board. However, inching ever closer to the Danes are Lisa Ericson and Hanna Klinga (SWE) in second place after gaining an impressive two bullets and a 30th which they will discard. The Swedish duo claimed second place at last year's ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi and are firmly on track to claim another podium place in Hyères.
ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) round off the top three places.
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) used up their drop score in the 49er by scoring a 20th in the ninth race of the series. Two thirds preceded the 20th and as a result they are 37 points clear of Jonas Warrer and Anders Thomsen (DEN).
The day's race wins were secured by Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel (GER), who are fifth, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS), who are eighth, and the ninth placed Marcus Hansen and Josh Porebski (NZL).
Men's and Women's RS:X
After Thursday's fantastic sailing conditions both the RS:X fleets were met with decidedly less wind on Friday. The change in weather conditions made some sailors perform less well while others thrived in the lighter conditions.
At the end of the day Lilian De Geus (NED) still holds on to the top spot after gaining a 13-11-8 scorecard, leaving her 17 points clear of Jiahui Wu (CHN) who is in second place on 62 points.
Race wins in the Women's RS:X fleet were snapped up by Manjia Zheng (CHN), Laura Linares (ITA) and Charline Picon (FRA) who, after an impressive performance on the water ends the day in fifth place.
In the Men's RS:X the race for a place in the live Medal Races is firmly on. After a morning postponement the fleet went on to complete three races in winds averaging 7-8 knots.
First place at the end of day three is occupied by Pierre Le Coq (FRA). Le Coq, who has claimed a succession of top ten places at previous ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas, put on a stunning performance to claim two race wins and a third. Still close behind him in second is Nimrod Mashiah (ISR) while fellow Israeli sailor Shahar Zubari took the other race win of the day.
With conditions set to be slightly better on Saturday and just 11 points separating first and tenth place it's still all to play for. All the Men's RS:X racers will have to fight hard on the penultimate day to secure their spot in Sunday's Medal Races.
Despite the lighter conditions on the course, the battle for the top spot still continues in the 2.4mR class who managed to complete two races to keep the fleet on schedule.
After dropping one place on day two Bjørnar Erikstad was back on top form and ends the day in first place at the top of the leader board leaving him ever closer to his second consecutive ISAF Sailing World Cup gold medal following his victory in Miami.
Damien Seguin (FRA) is in second place having scored the first bullet of the day. Seguin will discard his 13th place result and ends the penultimate day of racing a mere two points behind Erikstad.
Making her debut in the top three this week is Helena Lucas (GBR) who posted a 2-6 score line.
Matthew Bugg (AUS) also had a successful day on the water and went on to claim first place in the final race on Friday meaning he will go on to the final day of racing in seventh place overall.
In the Sonar, France's Bruno Jourdern, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary were on incredible form claiming both of the day's wins, firmly proving that the lighter conditions suited their sailing style.
After a third and a discard of sixth place Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden (AUS) slipped down into third overall.
With the final day of fleet racing scheduled for Saturday it will be down to the wire to see which sailors claim a spot in the Medal Race for their chance to win a share of the €72,000 prize pot and a place at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi in November.
Photo : ISAF