With the 2012 sailing season in full swing the ISAF Sailing World Cup heads to Hyéres, France for the Semaine Olympique Francaise, the fourth of seven regattas.
After the RS:X World Championship in Cadiz, Spain which saw Julien Bontemps (FRA) and Lee Korzits (ISR) crowned champions over 100 windsurfers will be in Hyéres with 59 Men's and 44 Women's RS:X sailors registered.
Due to the close proximity between the RS:X Worlds and the Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE no windsurfing took place in Palma so Hyéres will be the first European World Cup Regatta for the sailors to showcase their skills.
In the Men's fleet, 2012 World Champion Bontemps will sail on home waters. He will be joined by Standings leader Sebastian Wang-Hansen (NOR) who has shown the most consistency in the World Cup series so far with a fourth and a third place. Robert Willis (USA), second place in the Standings, will also compete as he looks to overhaul the Norwegian to take the Standings lead.
After two regattas, no sailor has taken a stronghold in the Women's RS:X Standings but that could all change in Hyéres with only Farrah Hall (USA) and Flavia Tartaglini (ITA) competing in the top six. A strong French, Norwegian and Polish team will sail in Hyéres as they push up the Women's RS:X Standings.
Australia's Nathan Outteridge resumes his Olympic campaign in the 49er following a brief spell helming Team Korea in the America's Cup World Series. And with Iain Jensen, the Australian pair will be favourites to take gold and move up the 49er Standings. The Danish battle for selection rages on and will conclude in Hyéres. Jonas Warrer and Soren Hansen (DEN) lead the way in the Standings on 33 points and are tied with Allan Norregaard and Peter Lang (DEN). Both will sail in France as they look to book their place at London 2012.
The French pair of Manu Dyen and Stephane Christidis will also sail in Hyéres following their silver medal in Palma. They currently sit in seventh place in the Standings and will look to add further points to move up and into the podium places.
Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata (JPN) will look to turn their two silver medals from Sail Melbourne and Princess Sofia into gold at the Semaine Olympique Francaise. Despite not recording a regatta win the Japanese duo lead the Women's 470 Standings on 38 points followed by Elise Rechichi and Belinda Stowell (AUS) on 37 points and Kathrin Kadelbach and Friederike Belcher (GER) on 34 points. All three will sail for World Cup points in France.
And in the Men's 470 fleet, Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) will want to continue their good form in Hyéres that sees them lead the Men's 470 Standings on 40 points. Stu McNay and Graham Biehl (USA), in second place on 37 points, will look to reduce the gap on the World #1 Australians in France.
A series of interesting battles between Robert Scheidt and Bruno Prada (BRA) and Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) developed at the Trofeo S.A.R. Princess Sofia MAPFRE with the Brazilians taking the title and making it two wins from two World Cup regattas.
But with neither team hitting top form in Palma, the World #1 Brazilians and British Olympic Champions will continue to test themselves against each other, and the 25 other Star crews registered to sail in France.
In the Finn, ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings leader Zach Railey (USA) misses out as does Jonas Hogh Christensen (DEN) which will allow third place Caleb Paine (USA) and fourth place Matt Coutts (NZL) an opportunity to take the overall lead.
Four American Women's Match Racing teams are represented in Hyéres ahead of their winner takes all event at Weymouth and Portland in May. They join the 13 other registered teams that includes eight of the world's top ten women's match racers.
The Laser fleet will see 124 sailors going for gold and will feature 2011 World Champion Tom Slingsby (AUS), Tom Burton (AUS), who is second in the Laser Standings, and many other sailors who continue to refine their skills ahead of the Laser Worlds, the final Laser qualification regatta for London 2012.
And in the Laser Radial fleet, the top three in the Standings, Lijia Xu (CHN), Marit Bouwmeester (NED) and Evi Van Acker (BEL) come up against each other for the first time in the 2011-2012 World Cup series.
Nine crews are registered for the SKUD-18 including Australia's Liesl Tesch and Dan Fitzgibbon, who have recently been selected to sail at the London 2012 Paralympic Games. Thierry Schmitter (NED) and Damien Seguin (FRA) will go against each other in 24-boat 2.4mR fleet and in the Sonar 13 teams will look to take the honours.
Sailing commences on 22 April.
Semaine Olympique Francaise Website
ISAF Sailing World Cup Website