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26 April 2004, 10:12 am
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© Gilles Martin-Raget

Semaine Olympique Française - Olympic Qualification Regatta

Despite difficult weather conditions in Hyères, the results after the first day of racing are not surprising as the usual class performers take the lead. The only surprises are in the Finn and Europe with races sailed in shifty winds.
When the majority of sailors started racing at 12.00pm, the wind was fresh and settled. Unfortunately it quickly started to oscillate to finally turn to the West and die. As a result, the Tornados after a perfect first race won by the American team of John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE, suffered in the second with only two third of the fleet finishing within the time limit.

Champions in Miami this year, the Puerto Ricans, Enrique FIGUEROA and Jorge HERNANDEZ made the most of it, winning the race with a huge lead, in front of the day leaders Jordanis PASCHALIDES and Christos GAREFIS from Greece. Among the unfortunates to score a DNF were Fernando ECHAVARRI and Anton PAZ (ESP). The Spaniards, fourth at the 2004 World Championship, are laying in eleventh position after scoring a second in the first race. The Greek team of Dimitrio THEODORAKIS and Adonis BOUGIOURIS was also penalized by the time limit. They are playing here their Olympic selection against regatta leaders Paschalides/Garefis. With most of the class favourites present (ten teams will race in the Olympic Games), and 19 entries, the regatta in Hyères is on the Olympic scale.

After a postponement on shore and on the water, the 49ers completed two races won by the Portuguese Lima/Andrade and the Sibello brothers from Italy. The Portuguese are leading the 39 boats fleet with four points, nine ahead of 2004 49er World Champions Iker MARTINEZ and Xabier FERNANDEZ (ESP).

The Yngling who are sharing their racing area with the 2.4mR, were sent back to shore after a first race sailed in light air and won by Shirley ROBERTSON, Sarah AYTON and Sarah WEBB. The British team who is usually known to excel in stronger conditions had to train a lot in light wind and adapt their equipment to overcome their weakness. The second race, sailed late in the afternoon was won by German trio of Wagner/Hoell/Lochbrunner. The British are leading the overall results, four points ahead of the Russian team Basalkina/Ukraintcheva/Loukacheva. The Spanish Azon/Pisonero/Sanchez are in third place scoring a third and a sixth.

There wasn't any real surprise in the 470 class, with Natalia VIA DUFRESNE and Sandra AZON (ESP), Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX (FRA) and Shelley HESSON and Linda DICKSON (NZL) taking the top three places after two races. The World Champions Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA are placed in seventh position after scoring mixed results second and 22). They are two points ahead of Sydney Gold medallists Jenny ARMSTRONG and Belinda STOWELL (AUS).

In the Men's division, the Bonnaud brothers from France are showing their full potential after an impressive day scoring a second in the first race and winning the second. Australians Nathan WILMOT and Malcolm PAGE are second, with a first and a fourth, Paul FOERSTER and Kevin BURNHAM (USA), are placed third, and the British team of Nick ROGERS and Jo GLANFIELD are within a few points from the regatta leaders.

A major shift in the last leg of the Finn race upset the results. Russian Vladimir KRUTSKIKH won the race from Mateusz KUSZNIEREWICZ (POL) and Chris COOK (CAN). Last year's winner, Sebastien GODEFROID is currently in 39th position and Rafael TRUJILLO, Silver medallist at the 2003 ISAF World Championship, is placed 35th.

The Europe class sailed only one race yesterday and it was won by 2003 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Siren SUNDBY (NOR) and Merel WITTEVEEN (NED), in their respective groups. Among the class favourites, Sari MULTALA (FIN) is placing ninth, Meg GAILLARD (USA) 15, Carolijn BROUWER (NED) 23 and Petra NIEMANN 33.

Thierry SCHMITTER from Holland won the day's only race in the 2.4mR from Damien SEGUIN (FRA) and Alan SMITH (GBR). The 2004 Semaine Olympique Française will be the selection event for the British team. The 2.4mR is an Open event (men and women); from the nine sailors engaged in the regatta three are women. Helena LUCAS is the first woman placed in fourth position.

Sailing will resume tomorrow (Monday) at 12pm. The forecast is for sun and light wind shifting all day from NE to East to SSE to South and finally to West. A tricky day in perspective!

Complete results are available on the event website via the link below.
Corinne McKenzie (As Amended by ISAF)
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