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20 April 2009, 10:00 pm
GOODISON Hits The Front After Day Two Of Semaine Olympique Francaise
Veronika FENCLOVA of the Czech Republic leads the Laser Radial fleet
Veronika FENCLOVA of the Czech Republic leads the Laser Radial fleet

Semaine Olympique Francaise 2009
Hyeres, France

Beijing gold medallist Paul GOODISON put in a star turn on the second day of racing at the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres, with the British skipper hitting the front of the Laser leaderboard in his first ISAF Sailing World Cup appearance.
Racing in the second day of the Semaine Olympique Francaise, fourth event of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, got back to schedule with extra races sailed in all classes. Despite the rain, the easterly wind reaching a maximum of 15 knots allowed racing to start on time. It wasn't easy sailing with clouds creating uneven pressure in the racing area requiring the sailors to stay focussed. For the crews racing in larger split fleets, tomorrow is a crucial day as the gold fleet line ups will be decided and only those making the cut will have the opportunity of battling for a top 20 place and scoring points towards the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings.

Veronika FENCLOVA (CZE) increased her lead further with two victories and a fourth place added to her first place on day one. After taking bronze in the third ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Palma, the Czech has mastered the difficult conditions in Hyeres and is in a strong position with a 15-point margin over second placed Katarzyna DEBERNY from Poland. DEBERNY, better known as Katarzyna SZOTYNSKA before marrying late last year, is starting up again after the 2008 Olympic Games. Evi VAN ACKER (BEL) won the last race of the day to gain from fifth to third overall, one point from Olympic Champion Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA).

Another team to increase their lead is the Danish pair of Henriette KOCH and Lene SOMMER. They are racing consistently with two second places added to their low score and lead the Women's 470 fleet by 22 points. However, Tara PACHECO and Berta BETANZOS from Spain have taken two bullets to jump into second overall after a slow start to the regatta.

With a victory and a third place, Piotr MYSZKA (POL) keeps the lead he shared on Sunday with Liwei WU (CHN) who collected a 20th place in the Men's RS:X to drop to 15th overall. Beijing silver medallist, Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) conserves his second position in front of Andreas CARIOLOU from Cyprus. Maayan DAVIDOVICH (ISR) holds on to the lead in the Women's fleet, while the day's races were taken by Peina CHEN (CHN) and Laura LINARES (ITA), respectively placed second and third in the overall rankings.

The racing is close in the Laser where the 140 sailors are divided in three groups. Tuesday races will provide the last opportunities to qualify for the gold fleet from which the Medal Race contestants will be drawn. Olympic gold medallist, Paul GOODISON (GBR) is the new leader after winning a race and placing sixth in the next. Croatians Luka RADELIC and Daniel MIHELIC are second and third. A top performance in Hyeres is particularly important to the pair as the Semaine Olympique Francaise is one of three selection regattas to identify the two sailors who will represent Croatia at the Mediterranean Games. Winner of the ISAF Sailing World Cup events, in Miami and Palma, Nick THOMPSON (GBR) is making up ground after a slow start, with two second places today.

"I struggled yesterday, the conditions were really difficult," explained the Brit. "Today racing was a lot better, I am used to race in light wind after Miami and Palma. I sail conservatively, by the percentage rather than taking risks. Winning three in a row would be great, however a top three would be nice. With these difficult conditions the scores will be high and the podium open!"

Other Croatian sailors to post good results are Finn sailors Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC and Marin MISURA. KLJAKOVIC GASPIC takes the overall lead after a fourth and a second while MISURA took the bullet in the day's second race to place third overall. Early leader Gasper VINCEC from Slovenia dropped to second.

"The wind was light and shifty, changing from minute to minute, I had to stay with the pack and sailed relaxed. Then I passed places downwind!" explains VINCEC.

The Men's 470 fleet have new leaders with the American team of Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL, leaders of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings, placing third and winning a race. They have a small two-point margin over the newly formed team of Matías BUHLER and Felix STEIGER (SUI). A dual citizen, BUHLER has recently moved from Argentina to Switzerland to join force with STEIGER.

The Semaine Olympique Francaise is the first event for the Swiss team. "It is hard to campaign at high level from Argentina. My goal is to have an Olympic medal and racing for Switzerland will offer more opportunities," he explains. "We have sailed no more than ten days together and this year we will concentrate on our team work. These results in Hyeres are far more than we had expected!"

Three races were sailed in the 2.4mR Paralympic fleet, who are now back on schedule. Helena LUCAS (GBR) takes the lead from Thierry SCHMITTER (NED) after the Dutch skipper was penalized by an OCS (early start) and drops to sixth overall.

The Stars, who share the same racing area with the 2.4mR, have completed four races. Xavier ROHART and Pierre-Alexis PONSOT (FRA) have won two races to place first overall on equal points with Americans Andrew MCDONALD and Brian FATIH who took the other two races.

After winning the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE in Palma, the SIBELLO brothers, Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA) are back at the top of the 49er fleet after winning two races and placing third in the last. The Italians had taken a long break after the Olympic Games and have clearly returned to international competition in top form. The young French team of Axel SILVY and Ulysse HOFFMANN are in second place overall after sailing consistently into the top seven.

"They have taken really good starts and placed well in the fleet, these small fleets are suitable for them," explained Nicolas HUGUET (FRA), who, after racing in the RS:X, is now in charge of the young French teams for the FF Voile.

Tomorrow will be the last opportunity for series racing in groups to qualify for the finals.

ISAF Sailing World Cup

The ISAF Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 consists of the following events:

16-21 Dec 2008 - Sail Melbourne The Asia Pacific Regatta, Melbourne, Australia
25-31 Jan 2009 - Rolex Miami OCR, Miami, USA
4-10 April 2009 - Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE, Palma, Spain
18-24 April 2009 - Semaine Olympique Francaise, Hyeres, France
27-31 May 2009 - Delta Lloyd Regatta, Medemblik, Netherlands
20-29 June 2009 - Kieler Woche, Kiel, Germany
14-19 Sept 2009 - Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta, Weymouth, Great Britain

Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup, including more on the seven events, the latest World Cup Standings, the scoring system and the Notice of Series at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.

Corinne Rolland-McKenzie
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