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26 April 2007, 08:45 pm
Medal Race Line Ups Decided
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Semaine Olympique Française 2007
Hyères, France

The easterly wind finally arrived in Hyères providing exciting racing all the line up for the Medal Races was decided at the ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française. After four days of light winds, the stronger breeze brought with it a significant shift in results as the heavy air specialists finally got the chance to shine.
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Nowhere was the correlation in the change in conditions and results stronger than the RS:X fleets. After five bullets from six races in the light winds, women's overnight leader Jian YIN (CHN) posted 15,14 scores to fall back to third place behind Bryony SHAW (GBR) and Blanca MANCHON (ESP). It was a similar story in the men's fleet as both King Yin CHAN (HKG) and Chi Ho HO (HKG) finished way down the fleet in the day's three races to drop out of medal contention. In contrast Tom ASHLEY (NZL) made the most of the planing conditions to move into an 18 point overall lead.

'Today was the wind we've been waiting for!' said ASHLEY, adding of his 1,28,2 scoreline, 'I had a pretty good day and did everything I wanted to do.' With the Hong Kong sailors dropping back, Shahar ZUBARI (ISR) improved to second place in front of three French windsurfers Julien BONTEMPS, Samuel LAUNAY and Nicolas HUGUET.

In the Yngling class the three Dutch teams made it to the top ten and qualified for the Medal Race. In fifth position, the boat NED 11 of Mandy MULDER, Annemieke BES and Flootje HENDRIKSEN enjoyed the strong wind winning the first race and placing fifth in the second race won by team mates Renee GROENEVELD, Brechtje VAN DE MER and Marion KOOISTRA (NED), who move into the top ten. Ekaterina SKUDINA, Diana KRUTSKIKH and Alexandra SOKOLOVA (RUS) still lead the fleet with a consistent scorecard.

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

Ups And Downs For The Brits

It was a day of contrasting fortunes for the three British Ynglings in Hyères. After a slow start to the regatta, Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB and Pippa WILSON (GBR) have now broken into the podium positions for the first time this week with a 10,2 from their two races today - but as AYTON explained, today was not all plain sailing, 'It was a strange start to the day - we were out there and all prepared for racing in 20 knots plus, and then at the start of the first race the wind suddenly died to 5 knots!

'That first race today proved really how hard this regatta has been. Getting on the wrong side of the shifts lost us eight places - you can never really relax in those sorts of conditions as you're frightened of making mistakes and losing more ground.'

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Wind at last
© Guilain Grenier/FFV
Shirley ROBERTSON, Annie LUSH and Lucy MACGREGOR (GBR) saw a disappointing end to their regatta. After pulling themselves into the Medal Race positions with the best results of the week of 2,4 coming from their two races today, they subsequently faced a jury protest which saw them disqualified from the last race and knocked out of the top ten.

ROBERTSON's misfortune turned out to be good news for Victoria RAWLINSON, Emma RAWLINSON and Sue MONSON,- finishing just outside of The Medal Race positions in 11th place, their team mates' disqualification means they are elevated to tenth place and so will race in the final tomorrow after all.

Three British teams did secure a place in the 49er Medal Race, with World Champions Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS still in command. By finishing first and second in the day's final race, 2005 World Champions Rodion LUKA and George LEONCHUK (UKR) and Athens gold medallists, Iker MARTINEZ and Xavi FERNANDEZ (ESP) just made the Medal Race.

Aussies Enjoy The Breeze

The Australians showed their ease in the breeze in the Laser classes. Title holder Tom SLINGSBY (AUS) moved back into contention after taking two bullets today to move him up to fifth place overall. World Champion Michael BLACKBURN (AUS) stays in first position despite scoring some of his worse results. A solid day for Johan WIGFORSS (SWE) brought him within striking distance of the lead and keeps him well clear in second place.

With a second drop coming into play, the results within the top three remain unchanged in the Laser Radial as in both the 470 fleets. Petra NIEMANN (GER) and Sarah BLANCK (AUS) both scored race wins in the Radial, enough for the Australian, but not the German, to make the Medal Race. The scene is set for a fantastic Medal Race, with Elin Maria SAMDAL (NOR) holding a one point lead over world #1 Evi VAN ACKER (BEL), with both Jo ALEH (NZL) and reigning World Champion Lijia XU (CHN) also in the gold medal hunt.

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Action from the Finn course
© Guilain Grenier/FFV

In the Men's 470 fleet, three French teams reached the Medal Race, with Pierre LEBOUCHER and Vincent GAROS (FRA) leading overall, four points ahead of Nicolas CHARBONNIER and Olivier BAUSSET (FRA). After dominant performances in Palma and Miami, double World Champions Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED) have struggled all week long in Hyères. With the arrival of the breeze they were clearly more at home, but despite posting two bullets still miss out on the Medal Race by a single point. At the head of the fleet, a poor finish in the final race saw Giulia CONTI and Giovanna MICOL's (ITA) lead cut to just six points over European Champions Stefanie ROTHWEILER and Vivien KUSSATZ (GER).

Finns Close

Peter-Jan POSTMA (NED) was the star of the day in the Finn fleet, collecting two bullets to move up to seventh overall. Jonas HOEGH-CHRISTENSEN (DEN) held on to the overall lead after scoring a second and a third. Emilios PAPATHANASIOU (GRE) also had a good day and is just two points behind in second place. Giles SCOTT (GBR) grabbed tenth overall and the final place in the Medal Race. After a difficult start into the regatta, the 20 year old 2005 ISAF Youth World Champion demonstrated he has quickly found his feet in the Finn fleet after making the transition from the Laser.

The change in conditions did nothing to stop Oskar JOHANSSON and Kevin STITTLE (CAN) in the Tornado fleet. The Canadian pair finished the series strongly to take an insurmountable 23 point lead into the Medal Race.

Another bullet for Thierry SCHMITTER keeps him in charge of the 2.4 Metre fleet, whilst Vasilis CHRISTOFORO, Nikolaos PATERAKIS and Anastasios KOSTARIS (GRE) hold a two point advantage in the Sonar fleet.

The Medal Races are scheduled to take place from 09:00-12:15 UTC in three racing areas in front of the pier, providing a good view of racing for the spectators.

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 on 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/Linsey Bell (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The wind arrived in Hyères on Thursday:© Guilain Grenier/FFV
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