43rd semaine Olympique Française: Six nations for Gold

With all sailors at the peak of their form, for the pre-Olympic year, when most Olympic selections are disputed, the Semaine Olympique Française, fourth event on the Sailing World Cup circuit has seen a great display of skills and battles at the top.

Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) who had won the event already yesterday, took also the Medal Race.
“We had a consistent week, and it is great because the weather conditions were hard and the fleet really strong. We will race a lot this year to try and keep our best level, hopefully until the Olympics.”

French team of Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot  conserves the second place on the podium while 2009 World Champions Georg Szabo and Mark Strubbe (USA) take Bronze after a second in the Medal race. “This result is very encouraging. We have worked hard these last months. We have better communication and decisions on the water.” explains the French pair.

Pietro and Gianfranco Sibello (ITA) win their second title in the SOF in the 49er. “To win the title means a lot for us. We are on the right track with our preparation and the intense training with both French teams. We hope that our training partner and friend Manu Dyen will recover quickly from his injury. This title here and our second place in Palma does give us confidence for the future.”
Julien D’Ortoli and Noe Delpech (FRA) improve one place on the podium from their Bronze last year in Hyères and take Silver.
“We saw this week the fruit of our training with the winners and team partners Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA). We have improved our speed and starts. We didn’t collect good results in Palma but a second in Hyères is just fantastic.”

Sydney Gold medallist, Jonas Warrer now racing with Soren Hansen (DEN) have steadily climbed the rankings to third place.
“In Palma we had some good days, but we for sure also had some very poor days. Since then we have trained intense on getting rid of the many small errors and on our starts. And that for sure pays off here.”

Ben Ainslie like Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada in the Star has added a victory in the Medal race to the title in the Finn competition. For the first time since Sail Melbourne, there will be just one Brit on the Finn podium. Zach Railey (USA) after a slow start in the regatta had gradually improved in the results to take today the Silver medal. “My last podium was in 2009 for Sail for Gold. I used last year to work on the equipment. Sometimes you need to take one step backward in order to take two forward. There is still lots of work to do but I am getting there.”

Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) lost a place to third but is happy with a place on the podium. “Top three was my objective in the regatta. I needed this ranking to get funding so mission accomplished!”

In the 470, today was deciding the Silver and Bronze medals after the early win from Pierre Leboucher and Vincent Garos (FRA). Strong from winning in Palma, Nicolas Charbonnier and Jeremie Mion (FRA) take the Silver and leave Bronze to Onan Barreiros and Aaron Sarmiento (ESP). “All the best are here and we have learned from them.” say the Spanish, “We were able to improve day by day, wave by wave!”

In the women division, Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos (ESP) who had started the Medal race with a Gold in the pocket, took it all on the water again with a first in the Medal Race. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark (GBR) improved to the second position overall in front of team mates Penny Clark and Katrina Hughes (GBR). “We’ve made some massive gains forward since Palma, particularly on our starting and upwind communications and you can see the difference,” Mills explained.  “The result is great for us as well as just knowing in ourselves that we’ve got better.” “I think having two teams on the podium is maybe unheard of for British 470 women’s sailing,” Saskia Clark added, “so it’s a really exciting place for the squad and we’ll hopefully keep pushing forward together through until next summer.”

Javier Hernandez (ESP) didn’t leave any doubt and comforted his lead in the Laser by winning the Medal race. “I had a very consistent week with no bad race. I worked hard because the fleet is strong here.” About winning the Sailing World Cup circuit last year, the Spaniard adds, “It was nice to win this title so hopefully I can win it again this year.” European champion, Tonci Stipanovic (CRO) wins the Silver from Tom Slingsby (AUS). Things didn’t go according to plan for the World Champion in the Medal race. “There was an individual recall on the start, so in doubt, I came back. I tried to catch up but at the bottom mark I broke the boom vang. From then on I was lacking speed. All was played on the last wave to the finish with Tonci who crossed the line first!”

Racing was tight in the Laser Radial and placings changed throughout the race. Sara Winther (NZL) and Sarah Steyaert (FRA) battled for Gold. A second place for the French didn’t have the expected result to win the event, a fifth for Winther gives the Palma champion another sailing World Cup title. “I have a good speed in the light wind so it helped me take good position in the races. In Hyères, I was trying new strategies on the water and it has paid off.” Sarah Steyaert (FRA) who was aiming for Gold was disappointed but admitted that her opponent was racing at her highest level and was the best”.

To win the Medal race was not enough for Tina Mihelic (CRO) to take Bronze from Gintare Scheidt (LTU). “I missed a bit of breeze this week and I had to work really hard.” Gintare in Hyères with husband Robert and their 18 months old son admits that “life with a child makes things different. It is hard to be at 100% both as a mother and a sailor, it does make a difference with the girls who are focussed 100% on their racing.”

The RS:X were last off the water. Blanca Manchon (ESP) has kept the lead from start to finish during the event with a string of six victories and top six placings. “This is an amazing week for me. I was surprised to win so many races. It does motivate me for my Olympic trials. I need to keep working my strength for the extreme weather conditions.”

Charline Picon (FRA) once again places second to a Spanish, after a second two weeks ago in Palma against Marina Alabau (ESP), “This is my first podium in Hyères so I am really pleased. I started the Medal race in last position but tried hard and caught up to fourth.”

Bryony Shaw wins the Medal race and the Bronze medal: “I’ve been slowly climbing up the results all week, so it’s great to have been able to finish it off with a medal today and make up for what was a disappointing event for me in Palma.”

Piotr Myszka (POL) has gained a placed per day since the start of the finals to finally win the Gold medal today in a tight medal race in the RS:X men. Two points behind, Olympic silver medallist Julien Bontemps (FRA) is getting the Silver one point from Shahar Zubari (ISR) who settle for Bronze. Olympic Champion Tom Ashley (NZL) misses the podium by one point. “I have been training with all these guys since the Worlds and this was my first opportunity to measure up with them.” explains Myszka. “ I saw this week that the training was good. I have good speed and it is npositive in view of my Olympic selections. I have been training in the Polish team with “Pont” (Przemyslaw Miarczynski) for the last 10 years. He used to beat me all the time but since last year I am able to win against him. We are pushing each others hard to the top. If I relax my training, I know he will be there, so I can never give up!”

Lucy Macgregor (GBR) and team won the final of the Women Match Racing against team Barkow (USA) 3-0. “It’s fantastic winning here in Hyères.  Kate and Annie did an awesome job, it was pretty tricky conditions all week so we’re really pleased to be on the top of the podium after a couple where we haven’t been,” Lucy Macgregor explained.

“We didn’t expect it to be three-nil really.  None of the matches were easy – the breeze kept us on our toes and especially in that last match we managed to come back from behind, stay calm and get the win to finish off three-nil so that was just fantastic.

In the Petite Final, Groeneveld defeats Leroy.

Damien Seguin wins the SOF for the fourth time. Megan Pascoe (GBR) takes Silver and Helena Lucas (GBR) Bronze on her birthday! It is the first victory for Bruno Jourdren, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont Vicary are winning the event for the first time:
« We had a good week. We came here to try new equipment because we had problems with our new boat. Of course it is easier to be smarter and relaxed with good speed. This is the first time we win the SOF or any regatta in the Sonar. We are ahead with our objective to be ready for the Worlds at the end of the year.”

In the Skud, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell (GBR) have won nine out of 11 races .

The next event in the Sailing World Cup circuit, the Delta Lloyd regatta will start in Medemblik, Holland on the 24th of May.

Photo Credit: © JM Liot / G Durand / FFVoile / DPPI

Tags on NauticNews: Semaine Olympique FrançaiseSOF

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