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  • Hyer Raising Rides In Hyeres

    The 54th Semaine Olympique Francaise de Hyeres - TPM opened in classic Cote d’Azur conditions with unending sunshine and a 25-knot Mistral mixing it up across fleets. It was a day for flying, punctuated by nosedives, capsizes and white knuckle rides in short steep waves. The 49er and FX fleet were the only boats in the 10 Olympic classes unable to race.




    Hyeres has hosted over half a century of elite racing but rarely has the pressure been so high for some, on and off the water, with less than 500 days to go until the start of the Paris 2024 Olympics. For many nations this event will finally decide who will represent them at the Olympic Test Event in Marseille in July and for some even for the Olympics next year.


    After training in the 10-15 knot northerlies over the past few days, a Mistral arrived overnight; it was not quite as vigorous as forecast - but tell that to Tonči Stipanović. The 36-year-old Croatian, who has taken silver in the Ilca 7 at the last two Olympic Games in Rio and Tokyo, was still caught off balance by a huge gust on the finish line of his second race that cost him four places. For Croatia this is their final Olympic Test Event qualifier.


    “It was really tough and tricky, a few strong gusts, but it was nice to sail,” Stipanović said. “I don’t like this Mistral so much, the choppy waves are really hard for all the sailors, but I’m a bit shorter than the other guys, so it may be a bit harder for me. We’ll have the first two days like this and then it will be lighter.




    “I’ve had many days like this in Hyeres, with the two Europeans I’ve sailed here maybe 20 times, and this was some of the harder conditions in Hyeres, somehow you survive and think about the rest of the week.”







    Shoreside, the sailors needed some more elbow grease to clean the salt off their boats with a regional hosepipe ban in place. Water is an increasingly precious commodity in the Var region of France, which has had a serious drought and has been restricting water use of the several weeks. Hyeres is also transitioning to cleaner energy to with electric cars and three electric race organisation boats.





    Nacra 17 (mixed double-handed hydrofoil catamaran)



    The first out in the morning, both fleets only managed one race before conditions - particularly on the course further offshore - forced them in.



    After unusually slipping off the podium in lighter conditions in Palma at the beginning of April, Ruggero Tita & Caterina Banti, Italy’s Olympic champions and the winners here last year, enjoyed racing in bigger conditions. They passed their rival Italian crew on the second upwind. “Our race area was easily raceable, the strongest gust we had was around 22-23 knots; unfortunately we stayed for only one race, probably on the other one (race area) further out it was harder,” Tita said. "We had light conditions in Palma and struggled a bit so we did some specific work here. But we love these conditions.



    In the other fleet, Jason Waterhouse & Lisa Darmanin (5th at the Tokyo Olympics) won with a lot of clearwater leaving many a capsize in their wake. “It was a typical first day in Hyeres - 25+ knots, 30-knot gusts, and waves, standard, kind of what we were expecting,” Waterhouse said. “And the sun’s out. Very Australian (conditions), sunny, windy, reminds us a bit of home but we get sweet pastries at the same time, so it’s a double win.



    “We could see the carnage - we won by half a leg - for us it is disappointing because probably two more good races would set us up well for the regatta but at the same time the safety of others is important and we respect the decision. Hopefully we’ll get out tomorrow.”



    If things were not going your way, it was question of hanging on, including for Britain’s John Gimson & Anna Burnett, Olympic silver medalists in Tokyo and second here last year, who managed third, just “We survived!” Gimson said. “I think our course was the choppier of the two (further out), it was one of the most extreme Nacra races we’ve had for sure, in terms of sea state, short and sharp waves.



    “We had a capsize towards the bottom of the last run, there were steep waves, very hairy and lots of capsizes around us. It was one of those days you’re just happy if you can get a counter out of it.”





    ILCA 6 and 7 - (women’s & men’s solo dinghy)



    ILCA 6



    Canada’s Sarah Douglas showed her class with a first and second place finish. Douglas, sixth in Tokyo, held off Belgium’s Emma Plasschaert, fourth in Tokyo, in first race and then was just pipped by Switzerland Maud Jayet in the second race. “I had a good battle with Maud and she got me on the last downwind,” Douglas said. “We were neck-and-neck, then I got a right shift on the second beat, got ahead, but she’s fast downwind. Definitely a good day for me, very long and tiring, I had to give myself some motivational words on those upwinds, but overall a good start to the regatta. It’s not my first time in these conditions in Hyeres, we had it last year as well.”



    Sweden’s Olympic silver medalist in Tokyo, Josefin Olsson, had one of the toughest days, finishing 28th and then 34th.



    And in the other fleet, Denmark’s Olympic Champion, Anne-Marie Rindom was 13th in the second race after a 3rd in the first.



    ILCA 7



    The men’s fleets played more to ranking. Britain’s Elliot Hanson, second here last year and Germany’s Philipp Buhl, fifth at the Tokyo Olympics, got 2-1 and 1-2 finishes respectively to top the leaderboard, but Australia’s Olympic champion, Matt Wearn bagged to fourth places.



    470 (mixed double-handed dinghy)





    More fickle conditions and the odd wind hole on some courses in the afternoon possibly explain the chopping and changing in the blue fleet compared to the almost metronomic yellow fleet, who unusually provide all top five boats on the overall leaderboard. Jordi Xammar- Hernandez, Spain’s Tokyo bronze medallist in the last all-male 470 event, now partnered with Nora Brugman, won both their races, both times ahead of France’s Hippolyte Machetti and Aloise Retornaz, (a bronze medallist in Tokyo in the women’s 470), who were second here last year.



    Formula Kite (men’s and women’s foiling kitesurfing)

    Men’s



    Fresh from winning the top award in Palma, the apparently unstoppable and still only 16-year-old Singaporean, Maximilian Maeder, who won here last year, won all four of his races. France’s Maxime Nocher, third here last year, dominated the other fleet, winning three of the four races and finishing seance in the other. Slovenia’s Toni Vodisek, the world champion, who beat Maeder into second, beat Nocher in the second race but was distant overall, finishing 17, 1, 20, 5 in the four races.



    Women’s



    After astoundingly falling off the podium in Palma, six time and reigning world champion, USA’s Daniela Moroz was back on top with 1, 2, 1, 1 finishes in her four races. Moroz, who beat Hyeres and France’s local hero and rising star, Lauriane Nolot into second here last year, did same again on day 1 but Nolot finished very consistently with 3, 1, 4, 2.



    iQFOiL (men’s & women’s)



    Women’s



    Denmark’s Laerke Buhl-Hansen is the early leader after a strong finish to the five-race day, finishing 3, 5, 1, 2, 1 overtaking Kristina Pinosova, one of four Czech Republic riders in the top eight, who had won the first two races.



    Men’s





    Thailand’s Will McMillan laid down a stronger marker with four wins out of five to finish 1, 3, 1, 1, 1 beating Brazil’s Mateus Isaac (4, 2, 2, 2, 2) into second in the final three races.





    49er (men’s and women’s high-performance double-handed dinghy)

    Women’s 49er FX

    Men’s 49er



    Did not race.





    Programme (subject to change):

    Monday 24 to Friday April 28: qualifying phase
    Saturday April 29: Medal Races
    Saturday April 29: Prize giving and closing ceremony

    Dates to remember: the next edition
    2024: April 20 to 27 April – 55th edition




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  • #2
    The Med’s famous Mistral pushed the sailors to their limits and beyond on day 2 of the 54th Semaine Olympique Francaise de Hy?res - TPM. Glorious sunshine and 23-knot+ westerlies building throughout the day and gusting towards 30 welcomed the fleets in the Bay of Hyeres.



    Big wind specialists relished a rare chance to spread their wings, but for some - even Olympic medalists - it was the windiest conditions they had ever sailed in.





    We’re happy the Mistral stuck around for two days, we were stoked to be out there,” USA’s 49er sailor Hans Henken, said. “Days like this are really good for the fleet because it allows everyone to showcase their strengths, we don’t usually get to see the big breeze because more often than not we end up being postponed. It’s awesome to race in this stuff.”




    For Sweden’s Josefin Olsson, a Tokyo Olympics silver medalist in the Ilca 6, Hy?res is the place to come for big wind racing. “I think it was one of my most windy days of sailing ever, I think I’ve sailed my windiest days ever in Hyeres,” she said. “It’s really choppy waves, but still flatwater, so it’s possible to race in these conditions, so that’s kind of fun.” It was a philosophical response after she enjoyed another tough day on the comeback trail after a break following the Tokyo Olympics.



    The 49er and FX classes were first out on the water in the morning to ensure they were able to start their regatta after being the only ones to miss out on Monday.



    An overnight wind shift will see shifting lighter winds on Wednesday, although some westerlies in the night teens might blow through in the late afternoon.



    49er (men’s and women’s high-performance double-handed dinghy)

    Women’s FX



    Italy’s Jana Germani & Giorgia Bertuzzi are the early leaders after winning both their races, but in the other fleet the Dutch world champions, Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz had a strong day finishing second in both their races.



    The conditions were a huge test even for those most familiar with them, such as France’s Lara Granier & Am?eie Riou. “Difficult day today, the wind picked up and we didn't manage to finish the second race - we tasted the water temperature a little too much,” Riou said. “It is the law of our sport to sail in these conditions. The 49er is a boat that is not very forgiving of mistakes and the penalty arrives fast.”



    Men’s 49er



    The Dutch did the double at the World Championships in Nova Scotia last September, winning both the FX and the 49er. And Bart Lambriex & Floris van der Werken matched their female compatriots on day 2 by also finishing the day handily in second place overall after winning the first and last of their three races (and finishing 1, 2, 1) in yellow fleet - one of the three.



    Fresh from their victory in Palma at the beginning of April, New Zealand’s Logan Dunning Beck & Oscar Gunn matched the Dutch by winning their last two races in red fleet to finish 2, 1, 1.



    Just behind them, France’s Kevin Fischer & Yann Jauvin, were the dominant boat in blue fleet, finishing 2, 6, 1. “It was a tough day today,” Fischer said. “We managed to negotiate this wind and steep and short chop well and have stayed in the frame. We made one small error when the spinnaker halyard came out of the cleat, but we managed to limit the damage by only finishing sixth.”



    But for some crews it was a very welcome and rare chance to show off their big wind talent in an international regatta. USA had two crews consistently at the front of their two fleets and Ian Barrows & Hans Henken, (who won the American domestic trials and will represent USA at the Test Event in Marseille)



    “Ian and I love these conditions,” Henken said. “We were bummed not to sail yesterday. We train all the time in this in California, in San Francisco, we do a lot in the ocean in Miami. The French are really fast in this stuff and obviously the Kiwis and Australians are good in this too.



    “I think it was probably as windy as could be for them to race us, I think they had to race our fleet’s third race because the other two had finished. Before we started the third race the wind gear on our coach boat said it was averaging 23, and then gusting 28. For us, it was about trying to do clean laps and we accomplished that for 75% of the race and then had a few swims trying to get around the last 25%. It was a race of attrition. At some point everyone was doing a bit of swimming.”



    ILCA 6 and 7 - (women’s & men’s solo dinghy)




    ILCA 7



    Another strong day for Britain and Australia who dominate the leaderboard. Britain has the leader, Eliott Hanson, two boats on the podium and three in the top eight. Their Tokyo Olympian, Hanson, gave a lesson in the art of Mistral sailing winning both his races in blue fleet (one of three) and is the overall leader after his 2, 1 on Monday. His fellow Briton, Daniel Whiteley was second in both those races and is third overall. Between them is Australia’s Finn Alexander, who was 2, 1 in red fleet.



    But the top of the leaderboard is packed with pedigree and single digit numbers across the four races so far. Australia’s Olympic champion, Matt Wearn, was 1, 2 in blue fleet to move to sixth overall - one of three Australian’s in the top six.



    “Any day you win two races it’s very satisfying, but with some heavy wind specialists in an international fleet even more so,” Hanson, second in Hy?res last year, said. “There will be changing conditions, which kind of what happened last year, I don’t think the Mistral is going to stay here for much longer. But these conditions, if you’re fit and strong and healthy it’s very enjoyable.”



    ILCA 6



    The women’s dinghy fleets went out after the men and only managed one race as the wind built, and the leaderboard is much more scattered by some big numbers across the three races they have managed in the first two days.



    USA’s rising star from Texas, Charlotte Rose underlined her relative comfort in the big stuff, winning blue fleet, her second win in two days. She overtook Canada’s Sarah Douglas, who was ninth in yellow fleet, at the top of the leaderboard.



    Last year’s SOF champion, Poland’s Agata Barwinka won yellow to move to third. Denmark’s Olympic Champion, Anne-Marie Rindom, was fourth after a mistimed start and still had a bit of a headache after being hit by a rival boom that knocked her back to 13th place in the second race on Monday.



    “When we were at the top mark someone hit me on the head with their boom, I dropped a lot of places and I still have a bit of a headache, but luckily I didn’t have a concussion,” Rindom said.



    “Today, I didn’t have a good start, I had the wrong time on my watch, a huge mistake, it was four seconds late and thought some were over the line, I think a few were.



    “The brutal thing about the laser is you have to hike, hike, hike and if you have a break you either stop or capsize in these conditions. The first upwind I had to tack my way out of a hard situation - I rounded in 8th - and then really charge on the downwind.”



    Belgium’s Emma Plasschaert, fourth in Tokyo, was one of those over the line and will need that for her discard.



    Sweden’s Olympic silver medalist in Tokyo, Josefin Olsson, had another tough day finishing 29th and is way after 28, 34, 29 finishes.



    “I capsized every race. I made some silly mistakes but it’s been some good lessons,” Olsson said. “I haven’t raced in theses conditions or even trained in them for a long, long time, so, that’s super useful.”





    iQFOiL (men’s & women’s)



    Women’s



    Denmark’s Laerke Buhl-Hansen increased her grip at the top of the leaderboard winning all four races yesterday to make it six out of nine in total. She has three Czech Republic riders behind her, led by Kristina Pinosova, one of four Czech Republic riders in the top eight, who was second in the last three races.



    Men’s



    Brazil’s Mateus Isaac was rewarded with his consistency winning two of the four races to finish 2, 1, 2, 1 for the day to jump above Thailand’s Will McMillan, who after winning four out of five on the first day, had a more mixed - 10, 7, 1, 14 - second day. Mateus has not finished out of the top four across the two days.



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