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26 April 2012, 06:28 pm
Westerhof And Berkhout Turn Dominance Into Early Medals
Low Points Means Prizes For The Dutch Pair
Low Points Means Prizes For The Dutch Pair

Semaine Olympique Francaise
Hyeres, France

The 2012 Semaine Olympique Francaise is a done deal for the Netherlands Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout who have an unassailable 26 point lead heading into the Women's 470 Medal Race after big winds and waves swept across Hyeres.
The Dutch pair have been impressive in Hyeres and lead France's Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Géron (FRA). The French duo have steadily climbed up the leader board throughout the week in their last Olympic selection observation regatta for the French Women's 470 spot at London 2012. "We have sailed a really good series with a very solid performance. No ups and downs, resulting in the fact that we are leading with more than 20 points. That is a really nice feeling, we want to do that again this year," Berkhout said with a big smile.

The battle for Silver will be tight in tomorrow's Medal Race, with teams placed second to fifth within five points. The strong Japanese team of Ai Kondo and Wakako Tabata and last year winners Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos (ESP) have won a race each and will be fierce opponents for the French in their quest for Silver.

Piotr Myszka (POL) holds onto pole position in the Men's RS:X but World Champion Julien Bontemps (FRA) is getting closer after claiming today's races. The podium is open for the top six. And in the women's division, Maja Dziarnwska (POL) is back at the top with a narrow two points lead over Germany's Moana Delle. Charline Picon (FRA) is a further two points behind.

Tom Slingsby (AUS) took another bullet today and sits slightly more comfortable at the top of the Laser leader board. "It was sort of my conditions out there today," said Slingsby. "I was a bit sluggish off the line but once I got into a bit of a groove I was going nice and fast and was able to sail away for a win." Phillip Buhl (GER) remains second while Andrew Murdoch (NZL) replaces team mate Andy Maloney (NZL) in third. The Croatians have performed well in the difficult racing conditions this week with three boats in the top ten. However with medals within reach of the top six, only Tonci Stipanovic could have a chance to climb on the podium on Friday.

With two victories in today's races, Mat Belcher and Malcolm Page (AUS) clearly enjoyed the wind and waves and extended their lead to 18 points over European champions Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic (CRO). "470s can take on most conditions and the boats lived up to that today," said Page. "It was pretty extreme out there, though nothing we haven't experienced in Australia and it was actually quite enjoyable, especially when you're leading." The Coster brothers (NED) are placed third and have at the same time secured their NOC nomination for the Olympic Games.

The Star race was a survival operation with 13 boats retiring from the race. Among the retirees, Olympic Champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson (GBR) broke their mast while in the lead. They are still leading the regatta with Swedish pair Fredrik Loof and Max Salminen climbing to second and Canadians Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn third. The day's only race was won by the French team of Xavier Rohart and Pierre-Alexis Ponsot in fourth position.

Australia's Brendan Casey won the sole Finn race on the penultimate and with average points awarded by the jury from yesterday's races, the Australian jumps to third position overall. Rafa Trujillo (ESP) continues to hold his lead but Deniss Karpak (EST) is piling on the pressure.

The extreme conditions kept the 49ers ashore today, however the leaders had changed this morning. Manu Dyen and Stéphane Christidis won their overnight protest against the New Zealand team of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in Race 7 and take the lead from World champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen (AUS), who are placed a point behind in second.

The top three remain unchanged in the Radial after two races sailed in the strong afternoon breeze and big waves. Marit Bouwmeester (NED) keeps her first place with race winners Lijia Xu (CHN) in second and Alison Young (GBR) third overall. The results are tight and the top seven can claim Gold in tomorrow's Medal Race.

French team of Bruno Jourdren, Nicolas Vimont-Vicary and Eric Flageul won the only race in the Sonar and take second place overall. The Brits, John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas keep hold of the lead with Aleksander Wang Hansen, Per Eugen Kristiansen and Marie Solberg (NOR) in third position. "It was pretty epic," said Robertson. "It was pretty much near my limit I think really just for the wave conditions- it was a pretty short steep sea wind driven. Big, steep, with breakers on top - it was pretty full on, but good fun though."

There was no racing today for the 2.4 and the SKUD but the paralympic classes can race up to three races on friday, weather permitting.

The tough conditions prevented the Women's Match Racers completing the Round Robin, but weather permitting they will do so tomorrow and move straight into the Final and Petit Final. Anna Tunnicliffe (USA) sits at the top of the Round Robin group so far and will proceed to the final with a number of teams in the running to face her.

The forecast for the last day of racing in Hyères is for very strong winds once again which may jeopardise the Medal Races. Nonetheless Women's Match Racing is scheduled to start at 08:30 with the first Medal Race at 10:00 local time.

Semaine Olympique Francaise Website

ISAF Sailing World Cup Website

Corinne McKenzie (As Amended by ISAF)
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