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24 April 2007, 11:04 pm
Gold Fleets Decided In Hyères
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Semaine Olympique Française 2007
Hyères, France

Despite the light wind persisting in Hyères, it was a busy day out on the race courses as the gold fleets were decided at the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française. The six Race Committees succeeded in hosting 36 races, bringing most classes up to date with their schedule.
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In the classes split in groups, today was the last qualification stage. The finals will start tomorrow and the fleets will be spread in gold, silver, bronze and emerald groups depending on their fleet size. With the worst race dropped from the overall results, a few changes could appear in the classifications. Only the Lasers have an insufficient number of races to allow a discard.

Oskar JOHANSSON and Kevin STITTLE (CAN) are dominating the Tornado fleet. They claimed their third race victory today and increased their overall lead. The Canadian pair has started showing promising potential earlier this year finishing in eighth position both in the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR and at Palma in the ISAF Grade 2 Princess Sofia Trophy. Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINHACHER (AUT) climbed up the leaderboard to second position after scoring their best results since the start of the regatta with a second and a fourth. Johannes POLGAR and Florian SPALTEHOLZ (GER) have made it into the top three after consistent racing and discarding a 22nd position.

The hierarchy is respected in the Finn class with no change since yesterday. World Champion, Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) continued his regularity with top 5 finishes. Races winners were Pierre-Alexis PONSOT (FRA) and Marin MISURA (CRO) in third position overall behind Ed WRIGHT (GBR).

BLACKBURN Extends Laser Lead

Men's RS:X
Women's RS:X
Laser Radial
Men's 470
Women's 470
2.4 Metre

The Lasers have completed just four races and so no discards were counting as the gold fleet was decided. With the tricky conditions many of the top names have posted at least one bad score so the pressure was on in today's races. It was not a problem for World Champion Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) who added a bullet to his other results all in the top three range. The Australian sailor is showing his expertise in a class he has been dominating for many years. His team mate and title holder Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) dropped down from second to 29th after a disqualification at the start of the day's only race. Brad FUNK (USA) took his place while Igor LISOVENKO (RUS) conserved his third position. With the top 47 boats making the gold fleet, it was a narrow escape for Athens bronze medallist Vasilij ZBOGAR (SLO) and world #1 Paul GOODISON (GBR). The pair finished 47th and 45th with both were penalised for breaking the start and have to carry high scores!

In the Laser Radial, Elin Maria SAMDAL (NOR) increased her overall lead, whilst Jo ALEH (NZL) and Anna TUNNICLIFFE (USA) tie for second. World #1 Evi VAN ACKER (BEL) won today's race to climb up to fifth place, two points behind ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Paige RAILEY (USA).

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France's Olympic Champion
Faustine MERRET is fourth
in the Women's RS:X fleet
© Guilain Grenier/FFV

In the 49er, the British teams are dominating with John PINK and Simon WHEELER (GBR) and World Champions Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS (GBR) in the top spots. Marcus BAUR and Hannes BAUMANN (GER) are third.

Russians Control Yngling Fleet

The Russian trio of Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Alexandra SOKOLOVA keep control of the Yngling fleet adding another bullet to their score. Last year winners Sally BARKOW, Carrie HOWE and Debbie CAPOZZI (USA) have gained two places to second, whilst Ulrike SCHUEMANN's (GER) team stay in third place.

In the Men's RS:X fleet, Chi Ho HO (HKG) has taken over the lead after scoring good results today (1,2) and discarding 21 points. Tom ASHLEY (NZL) is second with King Yin CHAN (HKG) third. The top three in the women's fleet have swapped positions. Athens silver medallist Jian YIN (CHN) had a faultless day after winning both races (four for the regatta). She has a two point lead over Bryony SHAW (GBR).

Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA) are the clear leaders in the Women's 470 fleet. In the men's fleet the French team of Pierre LEBOUCHER and Vincent GAROS moved to the top of the regatta scoreboard.

Good Day For British Paralympic Sailors

Helena LUCAS (GBR) collected her best and worse results so far in the 2.4 Metre with a victory in the first race and a eighth place in the second, placing the Brit in third place behind second race winner Thierry SCHMITTER (NED) and regatta leader Jen Als ANDERSEN (DEN).

The day's best performers were John ROBERTSON, Hannah STODEL and Stephen THOMAS (GBR) in the Sonar. Winner of both races today, they lead the fleet on equal points with early leaders the Greek team helmed by Vasilis CHRISTOFORO. Both teams have increased their lead over the rest of the fleet.

Same conditions are expected for Wednesday. The easterly wind due for Thursday could come earlier and upset the sea breeze tomorrow afternoon.

Record entries have been reached for the 39th edition of the SOF with 920 boats from 58 nations. Racing continues through the week with the Medal Races set for Friday.

For a complete list of all the news from the Semaine Olympique Française 2007 CLICK HERE.

The Semaine Olympique Française will be included in the first running of the ISAF World Cup© series for the Olympic Classes. For more on the ISAF World Cup© CLICK HERE.

Corinne McKenzie (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The Men's 470 fleet on day three:© Guilain Grenier/FFV
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