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22 April 2008, 10:53 pm
Strong Winds Mean No Racing On Day Three In Hyères
The 470 fleet at the start of today's abandoned race
The 470 started a race today but the Mistral breeze proved too strong to handle and racing was called off

Semaine Olympique Française 2008
Hyères, France

Day three of the ISAF Grade 1 SOF in Hyères was a blow out as 40 knot winds swept across the courses forcing the abandonment of racing.
Who said the Mediterranean is unpredictable? Since last weekend, the weather experts had predicted a strong Mistral for this Tuesday. This afternoon, the increasing white caps on the bay have proved them right!

Despite the alarming forecast, the Racing Committee tried its best to give a chance to the classes sailing in groups (RS:X men and women, 470 men, Laser and Laser Radial) to add a fifth race and a discard to their score before the start of the final series.

"We reduced the racing areas to two and brought them closer to shore to increase the security," explains Event Director Bernard BONNEAU. However, soon after the start of the 470 men's race 5, the Mistral increased cancelling further racing for the day.

"The wind was blowing at 25-28 knots average with gusts reaching 35. We knew that it was supposed to increase by 5 knots by early afternoon," indicated BONNEAU.

Following the abandonment of today's races, the fleets will be divided into gold and silver groups on Wednesday and two to three races are planned to be sailed if the weather allows.

Every year, the Mistral gives a day off to the sailors. "One year, the Mistral was present all week and we only managed to sail three races!" BONNEAU explained. It should not be the case this year with the Mistral expected to stay in the 15-20 knots marks on Wednesday.

Trip to Milan for Dutch boat

For Marcelien DE KONING and Lobke BERKHOUT (NED) in the 470 women fleet, the strong Mistral and the cancelled race came as a blessing.

"We broke our boat yesterday and sent it to get repaired at Nautivela in Milan last night. With the cancellation today we haven't lost a day and should get our boat on time!" explained the Dutch triple World Champions. They have enjoyed the strong conditions and are looking forward another windy day to come back to top of the leaderboard after discarding their DNF in Monday's last race.

Racing in Hyères for the 11th time, DE KONING admits that the organization had little to improve along the year.

"This has always been a very well organized event. The racing quality has improved with less waiting on the water. The Racing Committee is reacting faster. The event is also gaining in media exposure, with more and more televisions and journalists covering the racing," she said.

With an 11th place finish as their best result in Hyères, the pair has one objective this week. "The Medal Race!"
Men's RS:X
Women's RS:X
Laser Radial
Men's 470
Women's 470
2.4 Metre

Semaine Olympique Fran?aise -

Corinne Rolland-McKenzie
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