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22 April 2009, 09:59 pm
High Scores Abound As Light Winds Continue At Hyeres
Pietro and Gianfranco SIBELLO of Italy
Pietro and Gianfranco SIBELLO of Italy lead in the 49er class

Semaine Olympique Francaise 2009
Hyeres, France

Nine countries share the top places at the end of the fourth day of racing at the Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres, where tricky conditions made for a day of surprises on the fourth stop of the 2008-2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup.
Another day of light and patchy conditions resulted in some poor finishes amongst the event favourites and all of a sudden the battle for ISAF Sailing World Cup gold is wide open again. While some classes see new leaders, high scores reduce the advantages previously gained and opened the door to the chasing teams. The results are tighter and a second drop applied after nine races in all classes will reduce the gaps even more, increasing the opportunities to make the Medal Race. With a place in the Medal Race also securing points to towards the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings (points are awarded to the top 20 finishers at each event), tomorrow's racing is sure to provide many surprises.

With light and shifty northerly breeze coming in early afternoon, racing got underway behind schedule and a first attempt to race was quickly hampered by a big shift that cancelled racing for the Stars, 49ers and Lasers. The wind came back from the southwest with two races completed in most classes and three for the 49ers and the Stars. Racing ended after 19:00.

The fourth day of racing in Hyeres sees new faces at the top of the rankings in four classes.

Peina CHEN (CHN) takes the lead in the Women's RS:X fleet from Maayan DAVIDOVICH (ISR). Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) is back into the lead in the Men's RS:X fleet after taking the bullets in both races.

Harada RYUNOSUKE and Yuugo YOSHIDA (JPN) occupy the top place in the Men's 470 class on equal points with Gabrio ZANDONA and Eduardo MANCINELLI (ITA) who collected a 21st in the last race. The new Polish team of Patryk PIASECKI and Marcin MICKIEWICZ improve from ninth to sixth overall. They explain their day: "It was a long and hard day for everybody; it is hard to stay concentrated in these conditions. We had a good start in the first race today and collected our fourth top-three place. We hope we will race tomorrow to discard a second race, for us it means 30 points!"

A second and a first place bring Danish crew Henriette KOCH and Lene SOMMER, leaders of the World Cup Standings, back to the front of the Women's 470 fleet: "Of course are we happy to be back in the yellow jersey. But to be honest we are far happier to have found out what we did wrong yesterday, and then be able to correct it. It is that process that makes us happy. When that works, then the results are sure to come."

Veronika FENCLOVA (CZE) holds on to the lead in the Laser Radial despite an average day. Olympic Champion Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) from the US Sailing Team Alphagraphics, gets ever closer to the top of the leaderboard with her trademark consistent finishing, collecting two fourth places today. TUNICLIFFE explains: "It was puffy and tricky. The pressure was up and down and you needed to be watching and see what was going on." Number one on the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings, TUNICLIFFE comments: "I think the SWC is great and got everyone racing again, especially during the post-Olympic year. The concept is good to promote the sport and consistent sailing. You have to give it all!"

Three races sailed in the 49er gold fleet gave two first places to the ALONSO brothers, Federico ALONSO and Arturo ALONSO (ESP) who climbed one step into second overall. They sit behind another family team, Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA), who keep the lead after mixed results. Whilst the top two teams have secured a good margin over the rest of the fleet, behind them the points are tight and the top 18 boats all have a chance to get a place in the Medal Race.

All the top skippers collected high scores in the Laser gold fleet. However, despite a 31st scored in the first race, Beijing gold medallist Paul GOODISON (GBR) increased his overall lead. Maxim SEMERKHANOV (RUS) is in second overall on equal points with Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO). The points are very close and the top 10 places remain wide open.

Finn sailor Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) continues to master the tricky conditions in Hyeres. He has added a fifth and a second to his series of top-five places in the Finn fleet. "I have had good training and preparation in Hyeres before the event. I have a good boat feeling and handling in light wind. I am fast so I can sail simply and stay with the group," he said.

Xavier ROHART and Pierre-Alexis PONSOT (FRA) won two races and placed second in the last to increase their lead in the small Star fleet. France also leads in the Paralympic event, with Damien SEGUIN holding onto first overall in the 2.4mR. However Beijing gold medallist Paul TINGLEY (CAN) moves up second place with a first and a third.

From The Boat Park…

Darren BUNDOCK and Ben AUSTIN (AUS) - 49er

The Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyeres is the second event in the 49er for multiple Olympic and World Championship medallist in the Tornado class, Darren BUNDOCK, associated for the 2012 Olympic campaign with current 49er World Champion Ben AUSTIN. BUNDOCK made the move to the 49er just three months ago. After a difficult start at the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE in Palma, the new pair has narrowly qualified into the gold fleet in the Semaine Olympique Francaise. On equal points with French team of Vincent BERTHEZ and Sébastien DURAND they break the tie in their favour thanks to their victory in the last race of the qualifying series.

"For once we could race and not just "survive"! Things are coming together now, we have much better starts, and we have improved our speed. We sail the boat more accurately and more smoothly," says BUNDOCK.

"I don't have the feeling of having an elephant onboard anymore!" jokes AUSTIN. "My goal here was to make the gold fleet" added AUSTIN… "And for me the Medal Race!" says BUNDOCK! With only 14 points separating the Australians from 10th place, everything remains possible, especially with six races scheduled before the Medal Race.

"It will be interesting to race with the good guys, we will be able to know where we really stand," concludes BUNDOCK.

Helena LUCAS (GBR) - 2.4mR

The Semaine Olympique Francaise is the second ISAF Sailing World Cup event for Skandia Team GBR sailor Helena LUCAS, who returned to international competition earlier this month. "I have taken a long break after the PAralympics, the Princesa Sofia Trophy in Palma was my first event. The competition here is strong."

2008 gold and silver medallists Paul TINGLEY (CAN) and Damien SEGUIN (FRA), 2004 bronze medal Thierry SCHMITTER (NED) bring experience to the fleet, while André RADEMAKER (NED) is starting to find his pace in the class and is becoming a strong contender.

About the conditions in Hyères: "The racing is tricky. With the light wind we had during the start of the regatta it is important to stay with the pressure, and for that you need to be able to look out of the boat for the shifts. That's quiet hard in the 2.4mR because we are so low in the boat! My coach has designed and built what I call a "carbon tea tray", it does help to lift me more above sea level."

About the 2.4mR being part of the ISAF SWC: "I am very happy that the 2.4mR is part of the Sailing World Cup as it is raising the standard of Paralympic events. It did encourage two more events to include us with the Olympic classes. It is a pity that the Sonar and SKUD are not more motivated to come to these regattas, hopefully we will encourage them to participate."

The Semaine Olympique Francaise will be breaking new ground for the Paralympic fleet, as the first event to hold a Medal Race for the 2.4mR.

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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