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30 April 2003, 11:26 am
Big Tuesday
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Semaine Olympique Francaise
Hyeres

Broken masts, ripped sails, abandoned races, sailors in difficulty…yesterday's racing proved once again difficult for some classes in the third day of the Semaine Olympique Française.
The Easterly started with a moderate speed of 15 knots and increased gradually to 25 knots by mid-afternoon. More than the wind, it was the size of the waves that created havoc, especially in the 49ers, who were forced to abandon their first race. "We were the last boat still standing", the Norwegian crew of Sundby and Bovim declared with regret after the Race Committee was forced to cancel racing. Twenty, suffered problems on the start line with boats capsizing at an alarming rate to end up with 5 boats after the 2nd leg. The Norwegians, who had already proved their ability in the heavy conditions after winning Sundays races were the only survivors on the second upwind leg when racing was finally abandoned.

Other accident occurred in the Tornado race. The Spanish team of Echavarri / Paz, leaders of the score board were a few meters from winning their 2nd race when a huge rolling wave sent the crew flying. Hit by the boom in the face, Anton Paz only managed to cross the line behind Dutch team of Booth / Dercksen. With a large cut in his face and forehead, he was directly rushed to shore and hospital where he is undergoing surgery. Still leading the regatta, the Spanish favourites have not given up. "I will wait and see how I feel tomorrow, but I hope I will be able to keep racing." confided Anton Paz after receiving treatment (30 stitches).

In the Yngling class, Melanie Dennison (AUS) and Shirley Robertson (GBR) showed again their preference for the breeze after winning a race each today and regaining the lead of the scoreboard. "It was fun today" said Robertson. "We are fast downwind and Melanie Dennison is better on the upwind legs. It was perfect conditions for us." The British team is learning a lot with their new coach, GBR Challenge skipper, Ian Walker.

Natalia via Dufresne (ESP) lost her lead of the regatta after capsizing before the start of the first race. The Spanish couldn't catch up, finishing in 46th position and 9th in the second. They are lying in third place. Class leaders, Sofia Bekatorou and Emilia Tsoulfa (GRE) are back in 1st position after sailing consistently and scoring 2 second places. Today's races were won by Marcelien de Koning and Lobke Berkhout from Holland (2nd overall) and by German crew Rothweiler / Leu (6th ). In the Men's division, the Australians Wilmot / Page, have dropped one place to second, on equal points with new series leaders the Swedish Molund / Andersson. Race winners include French team of Gildas / Le Berre, Israelis Kliger / Ehud and Greeks Kosmatopoulos / Trigonis.

Jon-Paul Tobin (NZL) continues his dominance of the Mistral fleet, with 3 victories today. "He is so far in front of the fleet in the breeze, that it is impossible to catch him.", commented Nicolas Huguet. The French board sailor is placed 3rd behind Israeli Gal Fridman. The Chinese have taken over the first 5 places in the Mistral Women competition. It is Ming shuang Lai who took the lead with two bullets and a third. In the Finn class, Sebastien Godefroid is back in the lead after scoring a second and winning the last race. He is on equal points with Mateusz Kusznierewicz while World Champion Ben Ainslie suffered from the heavy weather and big waves. He dropped to 3rd position after adding 2 races of 15th and 10th to his results. Young Dane, Jonas Hoegh-Christensen won his first race while 8 sailors were penalised by the Black Flag rule at the start.

Yesterday saw the come back of Paul Goodison (GBR) to the score after winning 2 races in the laser fleet. He is discarding his penalty for premature start and has moved up to second place overall, one point behind Michael Blackburn (AUS). Daniel Bigmark loses one place in third position despite a first and a second today. Young Australian sailor, Tom Slingsby has recovered from Sunday's injury. He scored a 3rd and a 1st, qualifying in the Gold Group in 25th position.

With 2 bullets in the Europe class, Sarah Macky (AUS) climbed to third place behind Petra Niemann in 2nd. Sari Multala is the new leader after scoring a 6th and a 5th and discarding yesterday's 18th place.

Only one race was sailed in the 2.4, won by Dutch sailor Thierry Schmitter 2nd overall. Damien Seguin is still leading the fleet despite breaking his mast in 3 pieces. Third is Andrew Millband from the UK.

Lasers, Europes, 49ers and 470 Men, finished the qualification phases yesterday and will start the final races in Gold Silver and Bronze Fleet today.

ISAF are grateful to the organisers and participants of Semaine Olympic Francaise for the inclusion of hyperlinks direct to athletes ISAF Sailor biographies, from the event results. To view or update your biography, or to register for ISAF Sailor - Go to ISAF Sailor
Emmanuel Marty (As amended by ISAF News Editor)
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