Photos © Ingrid Abery / www.ingridabery.com
Early start for third day
The third day of the Semaine Olympique Française started early. With a pessimistic weather forecast predicting strong winds, the race committee had decided to start the day as early as possible to make the most of the sailable conditions.
At 8am, all the sailors were ready to hit the water for their races scheduled at 9am. With the end of the qualification ending tonight, priority was given to the classes sailing in groups.
Stars, Sonars and 49ers sailed only one race, while Finns, 2.4mR and Skud stayed ashore. All other classes were able to complete their two scheduled races.
With similar conditions as the first two days the results didn't change much.
Dutch sailors are making the most of the windy conditions in the 470 women with Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout conserving the lead with another race win. Japanese Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JAP) stay in second with Americans Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan third.
The Polish are still in command in the RS:X men and women with Piotr Myszka and Maja Dziarnowska winning more races to comfort their lead. The 22 years old women windsurfer summarised her first three days: “I am very tired but satisfied with my results. I have great speed in the breeze. I came to give my best but didn't expect to be leading the event.” Maja is Zofia Keplacka's training partner for the Olympic Games. “I am very fast in the breeze and I can help her be faster in these conditions.”
Olga Maslivets (UKR) and Charline Picon (FRA) are second and third overall.
In the men's Myszka (POL) leads World Champion Julien Bontemps (FRA) by one point.
The top three remain unchanged in the Star after one race won by Olympic champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR). They keep their second position with Canadians Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn in the lead and French Rohart/Ponsot third.
After one race early this morning in the Sonar, Bruno Jourdren, Nicolas Vimont-Vicary et Eric Flageul (FRA) are conserving their lead over, Aleksander Wang Hansen, Per Eugen Kristiansen and Marie Solberg (NOR). The race goes to John Robertson, Hannah Stodel ans Steve Thomas (GBR) who climb to third overall. “It’s been a while since we actually sailed in this kind of breeze” explains Hannah Strodel, “So it’s nice to come back and put the boat through its paces. We’ve brought the new boat here and are testing a few things, and I’m pleased to say it’s going well! The forecast is looking pretty cool actually – we’re one of the fittest crews in our fleet so this is certainly our game!”
It is very tight at the top of the Lasers classification. With the worse race excluded from the results, Philipp Buhl (GER) takes a narrow one point lead over the next four boats! After winning two races Murdock (NZL) places second on equal points with Slingsby (AUS), Stipanovic (CRO) and Burton (AUS).
The 49er managed to sail one race despite the strong breeze. After placing second, Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes (GBR) take the lead from French Julien D'Ortoli and Noe Delpech who suffered in the breeze. After many capsizes, the early leaders didn't finish the race and are placed third overall. Many Dyen and Stéphane Christidis (FRA) win the race and take second overall.
World # 1 Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page have climbed from tenth to first. After discarding a 24th place from the race where they broke their mast, the Australians are only counting top three results. Croatians Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic are second with the Coster brothers (NED) third.
“It was pretty windy today, you know when they start you at 9am that you’re expecting a pretty scary forecast” said Belcher. “The race committee did a great job and we got two races in. We had a bit on but just tried to get around the course and keep it upright. We’re sailing really well and are happy with our form from Palma and to continue that here is great” he said. “We had a bit of a hiccup with the broken rig on day one but are sailing really well and are in a nice spot at this stage, we just have to work hard and keep it going.”
The Laser radials had a long day on the water. They were among the first to go out at 8am this morning to reach their racing area some 3 miles offshore, but when they reached their racing area, the wind had increased making sailing too dangerous. They came back to the shore and waited until the RS:X had finished their races to take their place in a calmer area.
Alison Young (GBR) had another great day placing 1 and 2 in the windy races.
“It was pretty breezy for the two races this afternoon, piping up as well all the way through. It was pretty shifty on that course area so some good racing. It definitely gets harder from here going into the gold fleet. There are four races and the medal race to go, so still a lot of racing. I just need to be consistent for the remaining races.”
Dutch sailors Marit Bouwmesteer (NED) and Claire Bom (NED) scored equal results (1-2) to get to third and six positions. Krystal Weir (AUS) maintain her earlier second position.
At the end of the day, all classes sailing in groups were able to complete their qualification stages. Tomorrow will be the first day of finals. The Women Match racing will conclude their round robins.
Sailing will start at 8.30 am for the Women Match racing and 11am for the other classes.
US Sailing Team update (from Dana Paxton)
Another windy day almost threatened to cancel racing on day 3 of French Olympic Sailing Week, but with a very early morning start some classes managed to squeeze in at least one race. The strong Mistral wind continued to excite the fleets and US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes are improving scores as the week progresses. The Team holds five top-10 positions: Jen French and JP Creignou third in the SKUD-18; Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan third in Women’s 470; Mark LeBlanc is eighth in 2.4mR; Caleb Paine is ninth in the Finn; and Paul Callahan, Tom Brown and Bradley Johnson are eighth in Sonar. In Women’s Match Racing, Anna Tunnicliffe’s “Team Maclaren” of Molly Vandemoer and Debbie Capozzi continued to go undefeated and now find themselves up 8-0. Sally Barkow’s “Team 7” of Alana O’Reilly and Elizabeth Kratzig Burnham extended their win-loss record, as well, and are at 8-1.
Finding the “fast gear” are Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan, who relished the 20-plus knot day, scoring a 2-4 in the Women’s 470. “Speed in breeze has been one of our greatest strengths overall as a team,” said Lihan after racing. “We were able to capitalize on that. Our racing philosophy has been that when we have our conditions we are out to get top 3. So when conditions are less favorable we have maximized in wind. We have been quite quick and sailing smart tactically.”
With the early start, the team was at the boat park by 7am to begin the one-hour pre-race preparation before heading out to the racecourse. They wore the red ISAF leaders bibs and sported a red dot on their mainsail to signify an overall third place in the fleet. “It’s always nice to wear the bibs,” said Lihan. “We’ve had the red bibs before and nice to have them on again, and we are only a few points away from the blue bibs.”
While many classes did not race today due to too much wind, the 470 fleets – men’s and women’s – completed two races. “One of the greatest things about the 470 is that it can race in 0-35 knots,” continued Lihan. “Where we usually set our rake (mast setting) is huge gap to where it was today for the 25-28 knots. It is a massive difference. Let’s just say we sailed today in a setting we have never sailed before.”
Some of the conditions appeared to be survival weather, especially in the Paralympic 2.4mR, which sits very close to the water. With wind and waves comes a boat handling challenge. “You get really wet and you constantly have to pump the boat out,” said Mark LeBlanc. “And then you have to make decision while trying not to sink. The control lines are tailored, but some guys it’s harder for them to use a manual pump and steer at the same time.”
Full audio with LeBlanc can be found here