|HYÈRES, FRANCE-(26-4-2006) A quiet blue sea and bright sunshine welcomed the sailors ready to race their 4th day in Hyères.
Unfortunately the conditions at the end of the morning were more suited to sunbathing than sailing! The racing committee postponed all classes waiting for the sea breeze. Appearing timidly early afternoon with 5-6 knots near the coast, the wind was just enough to start the 7th race in the 2.4.mR class. Thierry Schmitter claimed his 5th race in the championship increasing his dominance on the fleet. Second place was taken by Bjornar Erikstad. The Norwegian is constantly improving in his first SOF participation. “My aim his for a top 3 placing.” After wining his first race ever in an international event yesterday, he is closing the gap on Helena Lucas who scored her worse result with a 4th place. “I started on the port end of the line” recalled Helena, “I heard the race officer calling GBR so I thought I was over and restarted, I found out later that I had a clear start and it was Megan who was over. It does look tricky now to win the regatta. I have to try to win the 3 last races. Anything can happen!”
The soft sea breeze didn’t keep its promises; the most wind recorded was 10 knots on Bravo course but dropped an hour later after operating a big shift. Sailing on Bravo, 470 women, 470 Men silver and Finns had their course shortened to be able to complete decently their day only race.
Ed Wright continues to impress after winning the 7th race in the Finn event in a dying wind. He proves today his abilities to perform in any conditions. His consistency at the top has given him a comfortable 19 points advantage on his followers. However the next 4 sailors are within 4 points of each others. Florent Guillaume (FRA) climbed to the third position after placing 2nd today. The Semaine Olympique Française is signing the French’s come back. “After the Olympics I needed to take a year off and clear my mind. I didn’t want to go sailing like going to the “office”. Now I feel refreshed. I have lost a bit technically, but not tactically. I never hoped it would go so well after such a long break. I surely made the right decision!” Marin Misura (CRO) is conserving his second place in the overall ranking, now more threatened than ever by the French, Vincec (SLO) and Hoegh-Christensen (DEN). The Dane realised his worse race today, finishing in 24th position: “I started at the boat end of the line but soon after the wind operated a 40 degrees shift to the left. I rounded the top mark in 40th position and managed to pass 16 boats on the downwind leg.” With the race shortened after the second beat Jonas had no time to gain more ground.
No change of leadership in the Yngling class with the American team Barkow/Howe/Capozzi in 1st and the British team helmed by Sarah Ayton second. The New Zealanders suffered in the light conditions they dropped 4 places leaving their earlier 3rd position to race winner Haberland/Lush/MacGregor (GBR).
It was a fair race sailed in light wind by the 49er Gold fleet. The Hansen brothers moved from 3rd to 1st place after scoring a 6th place in the day only race. Marcus Bauer and Max Groy (GER) won the race to jump to second place. With a 10 place scoring, the earlier leaders Stevie Morrison and Ben (GBR) Rhodes stepped down to third position. The Sibello brothers have packed their boat, called home by family reasons.
Daily conditions suited the 470 teams of Zandona/Trani (ITA) and Portuguese Alvaro Marinho and Miguel Nunes respectively 1st and 2nd. They climbed to second and third place in the overall classification behind usual leaders, Gideon Kliger and Udi Gal (ISR). The Bonnaud brothers from France dropped 2 places now in 4th after collecting a disqualification at the start of the race.
The women division, started after the men in decreasing wind. The mixed results at the top of the rankings are narrowing the gaps between the teams. Adi Gilboa and Vered Bouskila (ISR) are still in the lead despite adding 15 points on their score. They are only separated by 2 points from the Japanese Yoshisako/Ohkuma. Behind them, 5 teams including the French Lecointre/Lemaitre, 3rd overall and event favourites (SOF winners in 2004 and 2005) Petitjean/Douroux are fighting within 3 points. The race victory went to the Spanish crew Gallego/Tutzo 16th overall.
Page Railey (USA) and Charlotte de Turkheim (FRA) are on equal points 1st and second in the Laser radial fleet. After winning 1 race each in the Gold fleet, they have a 13 points lead over the Chinese Lijia Xu who placed 9th and 19th.
Athens Bronze medallist, Vasilij Zbogar (SLO) reached the 3rd place of the Laser ranking thanks to a bullet in the last race. Tom Slingsby, keeps a good lead on Argentinean Diego Romero (2nd) despite an average day where the Australian is collecting his biggest scores (16-5).
The light wind took its toll on the Tornado fleet. Darren Bundock and Glenn Ashby (AUS) scored a 16th, Gaebler/Struckmann (GER) 23rd and Echavarri/Paz (ESP) 28th! The conditions suited the French and Greek teams. Young pair of Matthieu Souben and Gurvan Bontemps (FRA) won the race, with Greeks Paschalides/Trigonis 2nd and Xavier Revil/Christophe Espagnon, 3rd. They climbed from 6th to second place overall.
The RS:X fleets enjoyed the sun and the beach. Two attempts from the racing committee to start a race were unfortunate. They are on top of the priority list if the wind decides to stay a bit longer in Hyères tomorrow!