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20 April 2006, 03:08 pm
British Sailors Focus On France
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Semaine Olympique Française 2006
Hyères, France

After a superb start to the European regatta season in Palma de Mallorca, Spain last week, Britain's top sailors will be looking for some further additions to their trophy cabinets when racing at the 2006 ISAF Grade 1 Semaine Olympique Française de Voile gets underway in Hyères this Sunday 23 April.
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The Brits had a lucrative outing at this regatta at Hyères in 2005, netting six medals across four classes, including a 1,2,3 in the 2.4 Metre Paralympic class, in which Helena LUCAS took gold.

The 38th edition of the Semaine Olympique Française takes place from 23-28 April and sees over 1,000 sailors registered to compete, with Skandia Team GBR sending a team of over 50 sailors, including Olympic medallists Sarah AYTON, Sarah WEBB, Nick DEMPSEY, Chris DRAPER and Simon HISCOCKS.

DEMPSEY's dominant performance in Palma last week not only gained him gold in the Men's RS:X fleet, but also the Princess Sofia Trophy for the lowest overall points score across all classes. Combined with his win earlier in the year at the ISAF Grade 1 Rolex Miami OCR, the 25 year old from Weymouth is the man to beat going into Hyères.

Both DEMPSEY and fellow Weymouth windsurfer Bryony SHAW in the Women's RS:X will be gunning for their third consecutive victories on the new Olympic board.

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Nick DEMPSEY will be looking to add to
his 2006 medal haul

A Point To Prove For DRAPER And HISCOCKS

DRAPER and HISCOCKS will have a point to prove in French waters next week. After occupying the top spot in the 49er ISAF World Sailing Rankings since October 2003, the Olympic bronze medal winning duo slipped to third place in the latest release of 19 April, in spite of their silver medal in Palma. The European Champions are keen for a good showing in Hyères in a bid to reclaim the top spot.

European Champion Paul GOODISON is poised to top the Laser World Rankings following the Hyères regatta, providing the Rotherham sailor can finish in the top eight next week, whilst the Women's 470 crew of Christina BASSADONE and Saskia CLARK will be hoping to continue their winning ways from Palma by beating their French rivals Ingrid PETITJEAN and Nadege DOROUX (FRA) once again - this time in their home waters.

Nic ASHER and Elliott WILLIS will be pushing for a podium finish in the Men's 470 fleet after just missing out on the medals on the final day in Palma. Meanwhile Ed WRIGHT in the Finn will have similar aspirations following his fourth place finish in Palma, having claimed bronze in Hyères last year.

LUCAS Aims To Defend Title

Southampton's Alcoa IFDS World Disabled Sailing Championship silver medallist LUCAS will be looking to defend her 2005 title in the 2.4 Metre, with Laura BALDWIN and Lizzie VICKERS spearheading the Skandia Team GBR challenge in the Laser Radial.

The new Yngling trio of AYTON, WEBB and Victoria RAWLINSON continue to progress, claiming bronze at their first regatta in Miami and following up with silver in Palma, while a first ever top ten slot in the World Rankings will be a timely confidence boost to Tornado sailors Rob WILSON and Mark BULKELEY as they head towards Hyères.

PARK Excited

'From our superb showing at the Princess Sofia regatta, it's clear that our sailors - both performance and development squad - have made some great gains from their winter training,' said RYA Olympic Manager Stephen PARK.

'The competition in Hyères will be just as tough, if not tougher than Palma, but I'm looking forward to an even more successful regatta for Skandia Team GBR as the focus on Beijing 2008 starts to intensify.'

Racing at the 2006 Semaine Olympique Française gets underway on Sunday 23 April, with the final Medal Races on Friday 28 April.

Lindsey BELL (As Amended By ISAF). Image, The Brits in action in Hyères last year:© Emmanuel MARTY/FFV
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