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27 April 2004, 03:53 pm
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© Gilles Martin-Raget

Semaine Olympique Française - Olympic Qualification Regatta

Sailors and racing committees were ready to spend the day ashore after a weather forecast predicting poor sailing conditions. Luckily, the "Meteo" was wrong once again.
By early afternoon, the wind was still very light but settled and most classes were racing under a bright sunshine.

Team New Zealand tactician, Hamish PEPPER is leading the 159-boat Laser fleet after winning the 2 races of the day. The New-Zealander has just won the Olympic selection after a controversial trial in his country. The results at the top are very close with Gustavo LIMA (POR), Andreas GERITZER (AUT), Robert SCHEIDT (BRA) and Paul GOODISON (GBR) within 6 points of the regatta leader. To note also the performance of Olympic Solidarity Scholarship holder Kevin LIM from Malaysia who has so far won 2 races in the regatta. A 22 in the last race puts him at 16 place overall. With 50 countries engaged in the Laser regatta, this is by far the widest representation ever experienced in any event in Hyères.

The Tornados were the first to complete their 2 races. The course, set for light conditions, was short and with the wind picking to 8 knots, the fleet finished race 3 in under 30 minutes. The second race followed quickly and was doubled in length. Dutch team of Mitch BOOTH and Herbert DERCKSEN are leading the fleet after winning the first race and placing fourth in the second: unusual results for these sailors known to excel in stronger breeze. The second race was won by US representatives for Athens, John LOVELL and Charlie OGLETREE, who are conserving their second position in the overall results.

In the 2.4, early leader Thierry SCHMITTER from Holland is now down in seventh position after a premature start in the first race of the day. He wins the second from Allan SMITH (GBR). Damien SEGUIN (FRA) is now winning the scoreboard with consistent results (2; 3; 3). The first women, Helena LUCAS is in second position. She is leading the British trials in front of Allan SMITH only 2 points behind.

The Bonneau brothers from France conserve their lead in the 470 class after winning a second race. They are only 3 points ahead of the British team of Nick ROGERS and Joe GLANFIELD. Simon COOKE and Alistair GAIR (NZL) won race 3 yesterday to place third overall in the 74-boat fleet.

In the women, the fourth race was abandoned at 6.30 PM after 30 minutes of racing when the wind nearly died. Slovenian sailors Vesna DEKLEVA and Klara MAUCEC won the only race of the day ahead of the Swedish team of Therese TORGERSSON and Vendela ZACHRISSON and New-Zealanders Shelley HESSON and Linda DICKSON. The "Kiwis" climbed to the first place of the classification with a 5 points margin on Spanish Natalia VIA DUFRESNE and Sandra AZON and French sailors Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX. Class favourites Sofia BEKATOROU and Emilia TSOULFA, the Ward sisters and Australians Jenny ARMSTRONG and Belinda STOWELL are struggling in the light conditions. They are respectively placed 13th, 12th and 11th in the overall results.

In the 49er, fresh from their World Championship title, Iker MARTINEZ and Xavier FERNANDEZ mastered the light conditions to win both races yesterday. The Spanish are taking the lead of the fleet with 10 points over the Swedish team of Axel NETTERLID and Jonas LINDBERG. The Swedish and Dutch have to place well enough in Hyères to satisfy their National Olympic Committee criteria for selection to the Olympic team.

Russian, Vladimir KRUTSKIKH is conserving the first place in the Finn class after scoring a fourth place yesterday. Andrew SIMPSON (GBR) won the race in front of Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE). The Greek is now in second position overall in front of young Ukrainian Oleksij BORYSOV.

In the Yngling, Shirley ROBERTSON is still in control of the fleet with Russians Anna BASALKINA , Vladislava UKRAINTCHEVA and Galina LOUKACHEVA and Ukrainian team helmed by Ruslana TARAN in second and third position. Double Olympic medallist in the 470, Taran scored a victory in the first race of the day and placed fourth in the second. French Olympic representative of Anne LE HELLEY , Elodie LESAFRE and Marion DEPLANQUE won the second race.

It was close to 7 PM when the Europe class finished their only race for the day. Siren SUNDBY showed her talent by leading the 89-boat fleet across the finish line. The Norwegian has been collecting titles and medals for the last 2 years and is a hot prospect for Athens. Blandine ROUILLE from France is in second position overall in front of SHEN Xiaoying from China. There is the added pressure in the Europe fleet of the SOF being the final Olympic Qualification Regatta for Athens 2004.

Because of the light conditions, the Racing Committee decided to cancel racing in the Mistral class. Full results from all classes are available on the event website at the address below.

Event Media (As Amended by ISAF News Editor)
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