There was not a breath of wind on Wednesday morning in Hyères. The Finns and 470s, sailing further down the bay, were the first to launch, the Race Committee hoping for some sea breeze to reach their racing area first.
It came at the end of the morning, a light 6 knots increasing slightly to 8 by mid-afternoon. Unsettled all day, the wind started to operate a wide rotation from the east to southeast and finally to south/southwest resulting in races abandoned in the Yngling, 49er, Tornado and Lasers.
The light air specialists made the most of their opportunity to take advantage of their favoured conditions, according to the forecast, for the last this week. In the Men RS:X, the top four in the regatta shared the top four places in the only race sailed…and they are within four points of one another! Fleet leader King Yin CHAN (HKG) crossed the finish line first, ahead of Frenchman Julien BONTEMPS (FRA) in fourth overall. Tom ASHLEY (NZL) and Chi Ho HO (HKG) are on equal points in second and third.
When asked about the key to good performance in this light weather, French team member BONTEMPS did not think twice: 'Minimal weight for maximum strength!'
In the women's fleet, the incredible Jian YIN (CHN) collected yet another victory to make it five bullets from six races. The Chinese team has shown its strength in the light conditions with five sailors in the top ten. Bryony SHAW (GBR) and Blanca MANCHON (ESP) had their worse results of the series but maintained their second and third places.
'We have now well in tune with the way the wind is working and we are fast in these conditions,' explained Nicolas CHARBONNIER and Olivier BAUSSET (FRA), after winning the first race in the Men's 470 fleet and placing fifth in the second. They have pulled out their lead to 19 points over team mates Pierre LEBOUCHER and Vincent GAROS (FRA). The Greek team of Manits PANAGIOTIS and Theodoros POLICHRONID is in third place despite collecting a disqualification on the start; one of 12 distributed in the second race.
|It was another day of light
and tight racing
© Guilain Grenier/FFV
Amongst the Women's 470 fleet results were up and down but the leading trio did not change. Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL (ITA) is still in the lead despite scoring a 47th place. Stefanie ROTHWEILER and Vivien KUSSATZ (GER) are 10 points behind in second place while French team of Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOUROUX conserve third place. Today's races were won by Noa BOTZER and Laia TRAJTENBERG (ISR) and Marina GALLEGO and Tamara ECHEGOYEN (ESP).
Winner of the SOF in 2004 and 2005, Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) dominated the contest in the Finn class winning both races today to claim second position. His main opponents collected mixed results. Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) held on to the lead of the fleet while Ed WRIGHT (GBR) is in third place.
One race sailed in the Tornado brought the French team of Yann GUICHARD and Alexandre GUYADER into third place behind early leaders Oskar JOHANSSON and Kevin STITTLE (CAN) and Roman HAGARA and Hans Peter STEINHACHER (AUT). Francesco MARCOLINI and Edoardo BIANCHI (ITA) won today's race, with the Italians now in fifth position.
Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) suffered from the conditions today but managed to keep his leadership in the Laser fleet. Thanks to consistent results (3,7), Johan WIGFORSS (SWE) climbs to second place in front of Igor LISOVENKO (RUS). In the Laser Radial division, Elin Maria SAMDAL (NOR) also conserved her lead. Paige ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Paige RAILEY (USA) has climbed into second position, 12 points from the regatta leader. Jo ALEH (NZL) is in third place.
|The Laser fleet
© Guilain Grenier/FFV
The leaders remain unchanged in the 49er and Yngling fleets. In both classes the top three boats collected high scores proving the difficulty of the sailing conditions today in Hyères.
The trio of Vasilis CHRISTOFORO, Nikolaos PATERAKIS and Anastasios KOSTARIS (GRE) completed a good day for the Greek team with two bullets in the Sonar. Thierry SCHMITTER (NED) is still in command in the 2.4 Metre after winning today's only race.
The easterly wind is expected to arrive on Thursday, bringing with it an end to the lighter conditions so far experienced. With one day of racing to go to decide the Medal Race fleets, the cards are set to be shuffled one final time in Hyères!
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.
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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.