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21 April 2009, 09:16 pm
Three French Teams In The Lead After Day Three at Hyeres
French windsurfer Julien BONTEMPS
French windsurfer and Beijing silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS hit the front in the Men's RS:X fleet

Semaine Olympique Francaise 2009
Hyeres, France

Windsurfing Olympic silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS lead a strong home charge on the third day of the Semaine Olympique Francaise, with French teams claiming three top spots midway through event four of the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
Light conditions continue to prevail in Hyeres at the fourth event of the 2008-2009 ISAF Sailing World Cup series. Today it was a westerly wind which provided the last chances for the large fleets to qualify in the gold fleet and the opportunity for a top 20 finish and points towards the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings. With most teams posting at least one high score, some fleets see new leaders.

Beijing silver medallist Julien BONTEMPS takes the lead in the Men's RS:X fleet on the third day of racing in Hyeres, which also marks his come back into international competition:

"This is my first regatta with an objective for results, so I am satisfied, however I would like to have more wind to test my planing conditions," said BONTEMPS.

BONTEMPS has excelled in the light medium wind experienced so far in the event, with a stream of second places and a third as his worse result! However, 2008 Olympic bronze medallist Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) is right on his tail after the Israeli took two bullets to climb from sixth to second at only one point from the French leader. Maayan DAVIDOVICH (ISR) maintains her lead in the Women's RS:X fleet, despite a 13th place today which she immediately uses as her discarded score. ISAF Sailing World Cup leader and winner in Palma, Blanca MANCHON (ESP) gains two places up to second place overall.

ISAF Sailing World Cup leaders in the Men's 470, Stuart MCNAY and Graham BIEHL (USA) started the third day of racing in Hyeres in the overall lead and are aiming to build on their early success in the series. "We are quiet excited about the ideas of the ISAF Sailing World Cup, it is a great concept and we are trying to do well in all of them," says BIEHL.

The American pair have raced in all four ISAF Sailing World Cup events so far. "Unfortunately I need to have some surgery and will be out of action. I hope that Stuart can keep scoring points with the new crew. We are aiming to be racing again together in August for the Worlds and in Weymouth for the last SWC event," BIEHL explained.

The US Sailing Team Alphagraphics 470 sailors reflect on their racing debut in Hyeres: "There are many good teams here and with a good race, anyone has a chance to come back to the score. The conditions are challenging so we will see!" After two races sailed in a light westerly wind on Tuesday, the Americans scored their first result outside the top 10 to drop to third overall. "We had very average starts and didn't choose the best side, so that doesn't help!"

Race winners include Italian Team of ZANDONA and Marco MANCINELLI (ITA), who climbs from sixth to second overall after a second and a first. Spanish Olympic representatives and Rolex Miami OCR winners Onan BARREIROS and Aaron SARMIENTO (ESP) won the last race to place ninth. Matías BUHLER and Felix STEIGER (SUI) are back in the lead after consistent finishes in fifth and seventh.

Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE winners, Austrian sailors Sylvia VOGL and Carolina FLATSCHER are the new leaders in the Women's 470 fleet after winning the first race by an impressive margin and sailing to fourth in the second.

"We were very upset after yesterday's racing," explained the Austrians. "We sailed the last race in very shifty conditions. We were in the front group but the wind made a huge shift and we ended up the race in 24th place! So today, we were very fired up and started the race in an attacking mood!"

Earlier leader Henriette KOCH and Lene SOMMER (DEN) had a difficult day with a 18th and a 19th. They drop back to second: "Of course we are a little disappointed with today's results. We knew yesterday, that we had got an extremely good start, but we were still less than halfway through the regatta, and a lot could happen. We still have four races ahead and the medal race, and as we saw today, a lot of things can happen quite quickly."

The Dutch teams of Margriet FOKKEMA and Marieke JONGENS, and Mandy MULDER and Merel WITTEVEEN are placed in third and fourth respectively.

"We have started sailing together about a month ago," explains WITTEVEEN who won silver at the Beijing Olympic Games with MULDER in the Yngling. "We are very much enjoying ourselves at the moment. This feels really good. We both realized how much we missed racing. We are improving every day and the speed is good. We actually get the chance to get our heads out of the boat once in a while. And that helps a lot especially here in Hyeres in these light conditions. We hope for some more wind so we can see how we would handle those conditions."

Damien SEGUIN (FRA) is back in the lead in the 2.4mR with a first and a second today. Skandia Team GBR sailor Helena LUCAS is only three points behind but finished the day with a victory. Commenting on the first two days LUCAS says: "The racing is tricky, with the light wind we had during the first two days it was 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 pretty 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. I am very happy that the 2.4mR are part of the Sailing World Cup. 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."

After winning convincingly the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE in Palma, Pietro SIBELLO and Gianfranco SIBELLO (ITA) built upon their lead in the 49er fleet with two seconds and a third. They are 15 points ahead of Rolex Miami OCR winners, the Austrians Nico DELLE - KARTH and Nikolaus RESCH, and 17 from European Champions, the ALONSO brothers, Federico ALONSO and Arturo ALONSO (ESP).

In the Laser, Beijing gold medallist Paul GOODISON (GBR) in the top spot, and Maxim SEMERKHANOV (RUS) in fourth overall, won both races in their respective group.

"Some days it just all falls into place," explains the Olympic Champion, "You're going fast and making good decisions. The hardest thing for me is that I've been sailing in pretty windy conditions back home as it can be quite hard to motivate yourself to go sailing when it's light, so I was a bit concerned about how well I'd do in the light winds against the other guys."

Luka RADELIC (CRO) and Tonci STIPANOVIC (CRO) are on equal points in second and third places. On Wednesday, the top 47 boats will sail in the gold fleet. The only race was sailed in the women's Laser Radial fleet was won by another Beijing gold medallist, Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) who subsequently moves from fourth to second overall. The sixth race was abandoned and rescheduled for Wednesday.

The Finns are sharing the course with the Radials but managed to get two races in. Ivan KLJAKOVIC GASPIC (CRO) increased his lead with a series of top-five results. The day's races went to Skandia Team GBR sailors; Giles SCOTT (GBR), who won his first major event last week in Palma, and Ed WRIGHT (GBR), leader of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings. They place third and fifth overall.

Three races sailed in the Star fleet and two wins give a slight advantage to double World Champion Xavier ROHART (FRA) starting in the 2012 Olympiad with new crew Pierre-Alexis PONSOT (FRA).

"The racing area is complicated and racing in a small fleet doesn't forgive any mistakes. There is not much difference between everyone's boatspeed," said ROHART. Talking about his new crew, he adds: "Everything is working fine. We have a good communication and we start to see the result of it now."

The new Australian team of Paul MCKENZIE and Philip TOTH, won their first race in the Star with under three weeks in the boat, "We sailed well with good speed and tactics. This is the first race we managed to put all the pieces together."

The classes split in groups will start to race the final stage on Wednesday in gold, silver and bronze fleets.

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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