26 Apr 2010
France and Israel Lead in Hyeres
After yesterday's lack of wind, today, Monday 26 April, saw some racing action at the 42nd Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres, France, but still in very light and challenging conditions.
After a wait ashore, in anticipation of the gentle sea breeze which eventually arrived, racing got underway at 1400 hours.
The volcano in Iceland has affected appearances in some of the classes, but for the 470 men's and women's fleets the majority of those entered as at our last entry update on 15 April 2010 have managed to make it to France.
Both fleets field a really strong range of nations, with 44 entries and 24 nations in the 470 women, down by 10 entries and 2 nations from one week ago, with the 470 men attracting 90 entries and 29 nations, down from 104 entries although the same nations represented.
Two races were completed in the men's fleet today, with Nicolas Charbonnier and Baptiste Meyer (FRA) taking an early lead, with a very tidy scoreline of 2, 1. Chasing hard, with a 1, 4 are Panagiotis Mantia and Pavlos Kagialis (GRE) with the young guns of Sofian Bouvet and Jeremie Mion (FRA) wrapping up the top three. Bouvet and Mion have really been on the crest of a wave since hitting the big time in the 470 fleet last year. Gold Medals at the 470 Junior World and 470 Junior European Championships saw them reach a real pinnacle, before they moved onto the senior fleet where they have equally proven their ability. It will be an interesting event, to see the next generation of French 470 sailors put in the challenge to the senior fleet.
A strong opening day from the Swedish team of Anton Dahlberg and Sebastian Ostling sees them in fourth after posting a 4, 5. They are definitely a team to watch, having won US Sailing's Rolex Miami OCR back in January with a very convincing performance.
Fresh from their win at the International 470 Spring Cup, Mat Belcher with “stand in” crew Will Ryan (AUS) had a rather lacklustre performance in the opening race, placing 19, but proved their mettle with a third in race 2 to sit in eleventh overall.
Over in the women's fleet, Israel's Gil Cohen and Dana Mamriav gave an impressive opener with a clear win. This pairing have moved up from the Junior fleet where they were competing last year, claiming a silver medal at the 2009 470 Junior World Championships, to clearly make their mark on the senior fleet in 2010. Cohen and Mamriav will be looking to improve on their tenth place at last year's SOF. Behing them are Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie (NZL) in second, with Victoria Jurczok and Josephine Bach (GER) in third.
The new British pairing of double-Olympic Gold Medallist Sarah Ayton as the newcomer to the 470 with crew Saskia Clark placed a credible 12 in the opening race.
Everything to play for as we go into day 3 tomorrow.
Image: Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos (ESP) in Hyeres © Guillaume Durand