Photos: Guillaume Durand/DPPI/FFV

Young Brits move ahead in the 49ers

After a tricky second day on the water at the Semaine Olympic Francaise in Hyeres

Monday April 25th 2011, Author: James Boyd, Location: France

Medium to light, shifty winds on the second day of racing in Hyères has resulted in new leaders in five classes.

The French team of Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos posted two bulleted today to climb to the top of the scoreboard in the 470 Men. They are closely followed by team mates Nicolas Charbonnier and Jérémie Mion in second while World Champions Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page are into third place.

There were mixed fortunes for Skandia Team GBR’s sailors in the 470 Men’s fleet.  Nic Asher and Elliot Willis have retired from the event due to illness, while Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell suffered a 19th before recovering to an eighth and a fourth to see them into eighth place overall.

In the Laser Radial, it is Princess Sofia champion Sara Winther (NZL) who came out on top today gaining the lead with consistent top three results. But French sailors hold the remain top spots with Sarah Steyaert second and Sophie de Turckheim third.

Skandia Team GBR sailors have taken the lead in the 49er and the Finn. In the former nippers Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign overcame today's difficult conditions to score two wins and a second. They are now six points ahead of Danes Emil and Simon Nielsen and team mates Dave Evans and Ed Powys.

“It was a really good day at the office, we’re pretty chuffed,” the 23-year-old Fletcher explained.  “It all just seemed to come together, we got good starts, had good boat speed, Al kept me in check so it was a great day. We were struggling a little bit yesterday with boat speed but we got it all sorted today.”

Sign, 25, added that their focus of training during the winter months paid dividends on the race course today. “We’ve mainly just been trying to get our starting nailed,” he said We’ve been working on mid-line starts and stuff like that just to get consistency and distance to line, which has been working a treat today – we’ve been hitting the line at pace.”

The BritFest that is typically the Finn class saw Rolex Miami OCR winner Giles Scott, taken a one point lead over Ben Ainslie who is now on equal points with Pieter-Jan Postma. Dan Slater (NZL) who won both races in his group today, lies fourth. Scott and Ainslie both picked up sevenths and a yellow flag penalty in their respective first races in the split fleet, before Scott went on to win his second race.  Ainslie finished second, leaving Scott with just a one point advantage heading into day three.  Ed Wright and Andrew Mills suffered a disqualification in their first race of the day after sailing the wrong course following change of mark.

In the RS:X Men, World Champion Piotr Myszka (POL) shared the day's bullets with Shahar Zubari to take the lead but he is only one point ahead of the Beijing Bronze medallist who starts his Olympic selection in Hyères.

In the other classes early leaders were able to hang on to their top positions.

Spain Women's RS:X World Champion Blanca Manchon has been showing her skill in the mixed conditions encountered since the start of the week. Today won both races in the medium breeze. France's Charline Picon remains in second place in front 2009 SOF winner, Cheina Pen (CHN).

Manchon commented: “I have been very fast and had a good day. I am racing at my best level. I don't want to push too much because the next event for me, Sail for Gold, is very important as it is part of our Olympic selection. I have well chosen the equipment for this event and everything is working fine. I will try and keep racing at this level tomorrow because it is the last day for qualifications and from Thursday all the best will race together. Feelings on the water can't be better and the wind so far has been with us.”

Australian Tom Slingsby remains in first place in the Laser, with Spain's Javier Hernandez climbing to second while Andy Maloney is third. Class favourites, Andreas Geritzer (AUT), Michael Bullot (NZL), Julio Alsogaray (ARG), as well as Britain's Paul Goodison and Nick Thompson (GBR) suffered from the day's conditions and are outside the top 20.

Meanwhile in the 470 Women Spain's Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos are continuing on their good form with consistent top four
results. They increased their lead to eight points over Britain's Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes.

“It did take a while for the breeze to fill in and settle down [today] a bit so it’s been quite tricky,” Hughes explained. “We’ve been a bit up and down but we’ve got a few good results in the bag.  We’re only two days into the regatta so there’s still a long way to go, but we’re pleased with where we are at the moment.

“We’re just hoping to be in the mix for the medal race and be in contention for the medals by the end of the week,”  Hughes continued.  “That’s been our aim at all the World Cup events and to really just put all our training into practice and just to go into the medal race with a good chance.”

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark bounced back from their first day disappointment after their 470 was holed by a coach boat.  They were successful in their redress claim for average points for the damage caused, and with the help of 12,5,7 today they’re now up to fifth overall.
The Star class had one of the longest day on the water with three races. Three places in the top four has put early leaders Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada ten points ahead of the USA's George Szabo and Mark Strube while Italy's Diego Negri and Enrico Voltolini are third.

In the women Match-racing, the top six teams have qualified for the Gold group. France's Claire Leroy is the only team to go in the Gold undefeated wit seven victories. “It was a very nice day. We were strong with tight matches especially against the Finnish who was very fast. We fought hard, and gave penalties to all our opponents. To be in the Gold group means less stress and more time to get prepared for the quarter-finals,” explained Leroy.

She is joined by Ekaterina Skudina (RUS), Lucy MacGregor (GBR), Sally Barkow (USA), Groeneveld (NED) and Echegoyen (ESP) who has qualified for the first time in the Gold group. However, Palma Silver medallist Silja Lehtinen (FIN) narrowly missed the repechage and will continue in the Silver group.

In the three Paralympic classes, yesterday's leaders have conserved their positions.

Tomorrow will be the last chance for sailors racing in groups to qualify for the final stage and the Gold group.

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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