Restricted entries of 40 boats per fleet ensured close competition from the off with Olympic and Paralympic gold medallists, multiple World Champions, Volvo Ocean Race winners and America's Cup sailors amongst the athletes.
Conditions in Hyères were light throughout the morning but picked up ensuring tight, tactical racing across five course areas. Stronger breeze, common in Hyères, is expected to return for the Medal Races on Sunday 26 April.
49er and 49erFX
Two of the hottest properties in sailing right now, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL), started the defence of their Hyères title in fine fashion with a consistent day on the race course, posting a 2-(9)-3 scoreline.
The Kiwis are tied at the top on five points with Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS) but the Australians count a discarded 33rd alongside a solid fourth and bullet.
Racing in the 49er was full of ups and downs as the fleet battled a light, shifty breeze. The Kiwis started well in the first bout of the day, coming in second behind John Pink and Stu Bithell (GBR) but they were left with a few regrets after their ninth, "We're disappointed we dropped a few places in that middle race but it's just one of those things, you've got to take the good with the bad.
"You get on the wrong side of the shifts occasionally and there have been some pretty big ones and in a 40 boat fleet you could get some big scores. We've had a really solid first day and we're just going to chip away and get some more solid ones on the board."
When sailors are interviewed in the boat park one of the most common phrases is 'everyone who is campaigning for Rio is here'. That is certainly the case in the 49er, and the remaining fleets, with the leading teams battling it out from the off. For Burling, the high level competition in Hyères is something he's enjoying, "It's the first time we've raced with 40 good guys on the startline in a fleet. In conditions like today, if you get one shift wrong you pay pretty heavily.
"We're happy to get some good starts and get it working today but that's one of those things that you've got to battle your way through this week. It's great to see all the good guys here with good gear and a lot of training time put into it so it's time to push forward."
Sweden's Victor Bergström and Victor Vasternas enjoyed a strong day on the water, recording three top ten results. They sit in eighth after the opening day but have a solid platform to build on over the next few days.
Men's and Women's 470
Anne Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) enjoy opening days in Hyères. The pair led after day one in 2014 and now top the billing after the opening day at the 2015 edition.
Consistency was king for the Americans in what was a hard day of work on the water, "It was really challenging," commented Provancha. "The breeze was shifting a lot and we had four starts today so two races were abandoned. The Race Committee did a really good job waiting for consistent breeze and fortunately we had two good races."
A fourth and a third gives Haeger and Provancha and five point lead over Brazil's Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Luiza Barbachan. The Brazilians took the first race win and added an 11th. The day's other race victory was snapped up by Shasha Chen and Haiyan Gao (CHN). The pair are sixth overall.
The new 40-boat format has suited the Americans who have thrived in facing the best competition from the off. Having led after day one in 2014 they dropped down to third so aren't resting on their laurels, "We're probably one of the most inexperienced teams at the top so we're just plugging away every day and training to get the experience we need so we can perform at the [Olympic] Games. We're taking it a day at a time," added Provancha.
"I think having the top 40 has been great and not having a qualifying series you're racing against the best from the get go and that's a really awesome thing that ISAF are doing. We're looking forward to more racing."
€72,000 is to be distributed across the 12 events on show in Hyères when the medals are decided on Sunday 26 April. On the announcement Provancha concluded, "I think it's a great idea. Obviously for Abu Dhabi there was prize money there and that was awesome. It adds something extra to the competition but we love the racing and regardless of the prize money we're happy to be here.
"People here love sailing and it's great to be around it in Hyères."
There were ups and downs aplenty in the Men's 470 but the top three stayed consistent, posting top scores to set an early marker.
Ferdinand Gerz and Oliver Szymanski (GER) lead on five points, Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO) follow on six whilst Gabrio Zandon and Andrea Trani (ITA) hold third. The Germans picked up the first race win of the day with Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergstrom (SWE) taking the second. The Swedes are eighth overall.
Laser and Laser Radial
Gintare Scheidt (LTU) is enjoying her return to competitive sailing and put in a steady showing in the Laser Radial. The Lithuanian has only recently returned to Olympic campaigning and having qualified for Hyères at Trofeo Princesa Sofia, she is going well in the French Riviera.
Scheidt, a Beijing 2008 Olympic silver medallist, is second overall, three points off Alicia Cebrian (ESP) and is enjoying her time back in the boat, "I wasn't in the top 30 so I had to qualify in Palma. I did well and here I am," she smiled. "It's very nice to sail with the top 40 girls. It's a very high level and it's very interesting.
"It's close to an Olympic format which is very good training and it's a higher level than even the Olympics. Everyone is happy to be sailing here.
"I've come here so many times and for me there are a lot of memories. Every year is different and it's a very special place."
Cebrian tops the leaderboard on six points after a 5-1 with Scheidt behind on nine with a sixth and a third. Belgium's Emma Plasschaert holds third on 12 points.
Anything can happen across the Olympic and Paralympic fleets and when they're competing against the best of the best, form can often be blown out of the window.
With two wins in 2015, ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami and Trofeo Princesa Sofia, Germany's Philipp Buhl had a tough time in the Laser. A 19th and 34th sees him placed 29th overall but he's enjoying the high level competition that is present from day one.
"It's different," chuckled Buhl. "It's like gold fleet racing and it's much tighter. It makes it a bit more difficult from the beginning.
"I'm going to like this model - it's much easier for the race committee with one fleet and more comfortable for the sailors. You don't waste days with qualifying where you can't win the regatta, you just make sure you don't lose it there. I like it, so far.
"In addition to that, we have a lot more space here, it's a lot more comfortable," joked Buhl about the space in the boat park.
The Laser is one of the most open Olympic events with any sailor in the fleet capable of causing an upset on their day. Although Buhl is 29th, he's optimistic about the coming days, "I'm not here to try and win again, obviously I will try to but I do not see myself as a favourite after Palma and Miami.
"I was happy with those results but I will try to get in the Medal Race here and try and get into the top five or even a medal and if I do that I'll be very happy."
It's a Croatian 1-2 at the top of the leaderboard with Filip Juriši? and Tonci Stipanovic occupying places one and two. Sam Meech (NZL) is in third. Rutger van Schaardenburg (NED) took out the first race win of the day and Juriši? followed up with the second.
Men's and Women's RS:X
It was a day for the Chinese RS:X competitors in Hyères as Aichen Wang in the Men's and Peina Chen in the Women's grabbed an early lead.
Chen's last ISAF Sailing World Cup appearance came in Hyères exactly 12 months ago. Whilst she was out of the top 30, she qualified to compete in the French Riviera after a solid result at Trofeo Princesa Sofia. With a small frame the light breeze in Hyères suited her style and she posted a fifth and a bullet from two races to lead Hayley Chan (HKG) and Laura Linares (ITA) by four points.
In the Men's RS:X, Wang remained at the front of the bunch in both races. A fifth and a third gives him a one point advantage over Juan Manuel Moreno Vega (ESP). Race victories in the Men's RS:X were picked up by Shahar Zubari (ISR) who is fifth and the seventh placed Ivan Pastor (ESP).
ISAF Sailing World Cup Melbourne gold medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AUS) had a superb start in the Nacra 17 picking up a 6-1 scoreline. Waterhouse and Darmanin are a team on the rise with World Championship bronze and World Cup gold under their belt from their last two regattas.
They are a point ahead of Renee Groeneveld and Steven Krol (NED). Defending champions Vittorio Bissaro and Silvia Sicouri (ITA) took the first race victory of the day but received a scoring penalty in race two. They are 19th overall counting the full 40 points from their penalty but with the discard coming into play after the third race they will look to bounce back up the pack.
French favourites Billy Besson and Marie Riou occupy the final podium spot after the opening day.
New Zealand's Andrew Murdoch leads the Finn class today after consistent racing gained him two fifth place results. This is the first ISAF Sailing World Cup event that Murdoch has competed in this year and after day one has gained a four point clear lead of Michele Paoletti (ITA) in second place.
Regatta favourite Giles Scott (GBR) and Jonathan Lobert (FRA) also had a great day on the water after claiming first places in both of the two races of the day.
Bjørnar Erikstad got off to a flying start in the 2.4mR class with two clear wins ending the day in first place, five points clear of Helena Lucas (GBR) in second. Erikstad continues to be on consistent form in the 2.4mR, after finishing on the podium at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami in January.
Rounding off the top three in the 2.4mR class is Bjørnar Erikstad (NOR), Helena Lucas (GBR) in second and Heiko Kroeger (GER) in third.
In the Sonar, Colin Harrison, Jonathan Harris and Russell Boaden (AUS) had a fantastic day on the water and took the early advantage ending the day in first place.
The Australian trio recorded a second and a first to lead on three points. This is the first ISAF Sailing World Cup event that the Australians have competed in this year and if today's results are anything to go by, are definitely ones to watch.
A race victory also went to Bruno Jourdern, Eric Flageul and Nicolas Vimont-Vicary (FRA). The French trio are second overall.
Racing resumes for the all classes on Thursday 23 April at 11:00 local time when sailors will continue to compete for a place on the podium and a chance to claim their share of the €72,000 prize money on Sunday 26 April.
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About the ISAF Sailing World Cup
The ISAF Sailing World Cup is a world-class annual series for Olympic sailing. It is open to the sailing events chosen for the 2016 Olympic Sailing Competition. Its centre piece is the ISAF Sailing World Cup Final in Abu Dhabi, United Arab Emirates.
The 2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup will consist of five regattas for all ten Olympic events and where possible, Formula Kite Racing. Qualification places for the ISAF Sailing World Cup final are up for grabs at each event. The final will bring together the top 20 boats in each Olympic event and an Open Kiteboarding event where the World Cup Champions will be crowned
2015 ISAF Sailing World Cup
Melbourne - 7-14 December 2014
Miami - 25-31 January 2015
Hyères - 20-26 April 2015
Weymouth and Portland - 8-14 June 2015
Qingdao - 14-20 September 2015
2015 Final Abu Dhabi - 27 October to 1 November 2015
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