Qualifying done at French Olympic Week
Published on May 1st, 2019
Hyères, France (May 1, 2019) – A solid 15-knot easterly powered the four fleets on day three at the 51st Semaine Olympique Française (French Olympic Week), completing the qualifying stage to advance the top sailors toward the final phase which culminates with the Medal Races on May 4.
Maria Erdi, the 21-year-old Hungarian, is showing why she is coming force by winning the second of the two races today to keep the pressure on her more experienced rivals. With five races left Erdi trails overall leader, Finland’s Tuula Tenkanen, by just four points and has the better discard.
Tankenen won the first race but in the second was passed by Erdi on the second upwind. Erdi also chased down America’s Paige Railey on the final downwind.
“It was cool because we’ve (she and Erdi) been training together,” shared Railey, who is third overall. “The two coaches were watching us go down, and all the stuff we’ve been working on in training, you could see us putting into action which was really cool. Yeah, I lost the race but to see all the stuff we’ve been doing together and accelerating away from the fleet was really cool.”
In the first race, Railey, who has been training with Erdi since the two arrived in Hyères, could be heard shouting at Erdi to hike – further demonstration of the camaraderie that often exists through these Olympic fleets. Erdi needed little help with her hiking in the second race.
After six races, the Laser fleet will now divide into gold and silver fleets with five more races over the next two days before the medal race on May 4. At the moment the forecast is for lighter breeze tomorrow before really big westerlies on the final two days.
The top 10 and even beyond all look competitive and will fancy their chances of moving up, but realistically the winner is only likely to come from the top five. The four Australians, led by Matt Wearn and including Rio 2016 Olympic champion Tom Burton in fourth overall, and second placed kiwi Sam Meech all have fairly clean sheets – important with only discard allowed.
There was even some praise around the boat park for the race committee – rare as hen’s teeth – over their decision yesterday not to have a fourth race in marginal conditions.
“Making the call reasonably early yesterday to come in and not stay out and do a marginal race yesterday was a great decision,” said Matt Wearn who won all three races today.
“We spend so many days of the year training in stuff like this that you’re pretty comfortable,” notes Wearn. “I’ve been itching to get racing this year in these kind of conditions and to come out of the day with a perfect scorecard – you can’t really complain.
“You do have to capitalise when it’s your favourable conditions, so when you’ve got different conditions later in the regatta you’ve got it up your sleeve a bit. I basically led from start to finish in all of them, so I didn’t really see much happening in the day, but that group between two to ten was pretty close I think.”
American Chris Barnard stepped up to 14th after posting a 7-7-6 while teammate Charlie Buckingham fell to 16th after a 15-11-8.
China’s Yunxiu Lu moved to the top of the leaderboard with a near faultless day, finishing second in the first race before winning the next two. That moved her past her teammate Peina Chen – China’s silver medallist at the 2016 Rio Olympics, and the woman who just beat Chen, France’s 2016 Olympic Champion Charline Picon. Picon is just two points behind Lu, after finishing 3rd, 4th and 4th.
“It’s very close with Charline and Peina, they’re also very good in light wind too,” said Yunxiu. “I enjoy the competition. I’m just trying to focus on myself. It’s hard with 15 races and 1 medal race, but it’s the same for everybody.
“I was 100m behind on the first race, I was late on the start. But I was sixth on the final downwind and the wind changed, I got a gust and caught it.
“I was third at the first upwind mark and then I got lucky with a gust and took lead. I was 100m at the end but with the strong wind that’s not really comfortable and everybody is pushing hard. In the last race I got a good start and lead through the race.”
Mexican Demita Vega de Lille posted a 18-16-20 to move her up one position to 20th.
It was another great day for Civitavecchia, as Daniele Benedetti moved into second place overall behind Mattia Camboni, the man he shares an apartment block with in the Italian city. France’s Thomas Goyard, fresh from his bronze in the European Championships in Palma at the beginning of April, had his best day so far to move into third, just three points behind Benedetti. So consistent has Camboni been that he has a formidable lead of 18 points, with his ninth-placed finish yesterday his discard.
“I didn’t feel fast today,” admitted Camboni. “I don’t know why, this morning when I rigged the sail I saw something I didn’t see yesterday. Starboard was really good but on port I had a lot of spinouts – when you lose control on the fin.
“Only the second race start was really bad, but it wasn’t my fault because one French guy started over, he was UFD and he started just over me and he killed me. I had to go right and I was 16th at the first mark, but I finished 9th which was OK. The other two, fourth and third without good speed is OK. Daniele had a really good day. In the last race he passed me on the port side on the first upwind.”
Due to complications within the Olympic Class competition schedule, the focus for the 51st edition is on four singlehanded classes of the ten Olympic events: Laser, Laser Radial, RS:X (Men), and RS:X (Women). Racing for the 197 sailors representing 49 nations is on April 29 to May 4.
Programme (subject to change):
Monday, April 29 to Wednesday, May 1: qualifying phase (one to three rounds per day)
Thursday May 2 to Saturday May 4: final phase (one to three rounds per day)
Saturday, May 4: Medal Races (30-minute round for the top ten in each series in which points count double)
North American Results (Canada, Mexico, and USA):
Top ten or top position
• Laser Men (6 races): 14th Chris Barnard (USA).
• Laser Radial Women (6 races): 3rd Paige Railey (USA).
• RS:X Women (9 races): 20th Demita Vega de Lille (MEX).
• RS:X Men (9 races): No entries
North American Entries (Canada, Mexico, and USA):
• Laser Men: Malcolm Lamphere, Charlie Buckingham, Chris Barnard, Paul Didham (USA).
• Laser Radial Women: Paige Railey (USA).
• RS:X Women: Demita Vega de Lille (MEX).
• RS:X Men: No entries
• Nacra 17 Mixed
• 470 Men
• 470 Women
• 49er Men
• 49erFX Women
• Finn: No entries
Source: Soazig Guého