Racing is underway at the Semaine Olympique Française, the fourth of seven ISAF Sailing World Cup regattas.
Expected numbers of sailors increased at the end of registration with 1,200 athletes from 64 countries represented. Among the nations are new countries such as Bahrain, Salvador and Georgia who will have sailors on the starting line.
The forty Olympic medallists engaged in the competition were honoured during the Opening Ceremony, perfect illustration of the high quality of the competition to come.
Among these medallists, Torben Grael
and Marcelo Ferreira
(BRA), with five Olympic medals, are sailing for the first time in the Semaine Olympique Française.
"We sailed once in Hyères during the Star Europeans. We are coming this year because there is a good fleet. About 15 teams can win the regatta."
Racing at high level since the 1980's with a first Olympic medal in the Los Angeles Games, the Brazilians are keeping their enthusiasm and drive for racing, they added, "We keep doing it because it is fun! Sailing keep us young!"
Another multiple medallist to race in Hyères is Ben Ainslie
(GBR). The Brit has only raced in Hyères once in the Finn and is looking for a new challenge after wining in Palma and Sail Melbourne. "I hope for the lighter sea breeze however, I wouldn't mind a good day of Mistral for the fun."
After taking a break from Olympic competition Ainslie finds a difference in the level of athleticism in the class. "Sailors are now taller and bigger, they are fitter too which is giving them an advantage on me in the breeze."
Last year defending champions in the 470 women, Emmanuelle Rol
and Hélène Defrance
(FRA) are also sailing in Hyères in their first Olympic selection regatta. They said, "When we sailed in Hyères some years ago we were impressed by the level of the other teams. Now we have won the event last year we are more relaxed and confident. Of course, being an Olympic selection and with the increased level, we are still a bit stressed but it is like racing any other important regatta in the circuit."
Frenchman Damien Seguin
is also set to defend his title in the 2.4mR, "The first time I sailed in Hyères was on the Tornado. I like coming to Hyères, the mixed conditions suit me well. I have won the event 5 times and hope to better this record next week."
Two races are scheduled for all classes today and three for the 49er. The easterly is expected to remain present in Hyères at around 15 knots and decrease throughout the day.
Semaine Olympique Française Website
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