Mid-point at French Olympic Week
Published on April 27th, 2022
Hyères, France (April 27, 2022) – The 53rd Semaine Olympique Française (French Olympic Week) is at the mid-point with three days of racing completed among the 10 Olympic classes containing 751 of the world’s best sailors from over 50 countries.
Today’s conditions offering onshore easterlies and chop into the bay of Hyères rather the Mistral westerlies and flat lake foiling conditions of the first two days. But rather than building from 6 knots to 15-18 as forecast, conditions eased off, unsettling some plans.
Women’s 49er FX
Norway’s Helene Noess and Marie Ronningen held on to the overall lead by just a point from France’s Lara Granier and Amélie Riou after a frustrating day for them with a 4, 4, 7. All their rivals closed the gap and there are now just 10 points separating the top 7 boats after nine races.
Noess/ Ronningen, seventh last summer in the Tokyo Olympics, know the quality of the field behind them.
“The French have been really good this week, they’re quite a new team and they’re improving with each regatta,” Noess said. “And then you know the Brazilians are always coming at the end of the week. The Belgians have been doing well, the Swedish if it’s windy. We hoping for lighter breeze at the end of the week because that’s our strong suit for sure.”
The Brazilians in question are of course the double Olympic gold medalists (2016 and 2020) and legends of the FX, Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze. Like the Norwegians, who capsized twice, Grael/ Kunze had a hard first day in the big westerlies, but they surged back today with 1, 3, 1.
“We were expecting the breeze to pick up a lot more than it did, it felt like we were a bit too tight on the rig, just waiting for the breeze to kick in,” Noess said. “But it’s nice to have a different day than the other days. We always have good racing here so that makes the place a lot nicer to come back too.”
In contrast to the closeness of the FX, Poland’s Dominik Buksak and Szymon Wierzbicki are in pole position after a third strong day, with 1, 4, 2 finishes in their three races. Only USA’s Nevin Snow and Mac Agnese are still close, six points behind.
The Americans had a tougher day and needed their discard for the second race after finishing 11th. There is a further 16 points back to Spain in third and a spread field beyond that.
Men’s Formula Kite
Singapore’s 15-year-old European champion, Maximilian Maeder, leads after three more wins – although he had to take his 19th place finish in the fourth and last race of a slalom day as one of his three discards.
Behind him lie two of the French favorites, Alex Mazella and Théo Ramecourt, the world champion. But the podium will not be threatened by their French teammate, Benoit Gomez, who slipped right down from the top after being out injured today.
Ramecourt said that Kitefoiling being included in the Paris 2024 Olympics for the first time, and the professionalism that it has brought, had increased the performance of the top riders by 20% in the last three years.
“I think the kitefoiling industry was kind of stable for a couple of years before even being in the Olympics,” Ramecourt said. “But now we’re in the Olympics it’s even more interesting because we’re supported by the (French) Federation in technical aspects, financial – we can really push every single cursor of performance to the max, where before we were more like amateurs.
“Now it’s about really performing in all conditions. Overall, out of 20 races in an event it must be around 20% I would say. Everyone is stepping their game up. We can compare ourselves to others who haven’t progressed as much, but also from our own numbers, like we know the speed we had and the angles and the time we would need to do a course three years ago and now, which is quite impressive sometimes.”
Women’s Formula Kite
USA’s five-time and reigning world champion, Daniela Moroz, re-took the lead with a dominant finish to the day, winning the last two of the four races. With France’s Lauriane Nolot finishing 11th in the last race, her compatriot Poema Newland moved into second. Newland has only won one of the 12 races, but has never been out of the top four.
Mixed Nacra 17
Italy’s Olympic champions, Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti showed their class today, opening up a significant lead on a spreading Nacra fleet, with 1, 1, 1, 2 finishes in the four races. As in Palma, only the British and Finnish, 9 and 15 points behind respectively, have been consistently competitive.
Britain’s John Gimson and Anna Burnet won the last race to put on some pressure, but the Italians were second and are the only ones with a discard up their sleeve, having not finished lower than 5th in the nine races.
Men’s ILCA 7
Germany’s 2020 World Champion, Philipp Buhl took the lead and a discard advantage after Australia’s Olympic champion, Matt Wearn, was UFD in the starting sequence of the second and final race of the day. They will now face each other for the first time in gold fleet, and Wearn cannot afford a slip up with Buhl’s consistency in finishing 1, 3, 1, 1, 2, 1 in the six races so far.
Just behind them lies Pavlos Kontides, the first Cypriot to ever win an Olympic medal (silver at London 2012). But his 10th place in the last race also leaves him more vulnerable.
Women’s ILCA 6
In contrast to the men’s leaderboard, the women’s looks wide open after Poland’s Agata Barwinska finished 19th in light winds in the second race at the end of the day. Such is the state of the other huge discards in the top 10, that she still leads, just. Belgium’s Emma Plaaschaert, 4th at the Tokyo Olympics, lies in second despite being 38th in the final race and Canada’s Sarah Douglas, who won in Palma, is 10th after finishing 48th to close the day. There are a lot of double digits at the top and any slips ups will be very painful.
The 470 continues to be nip and tuck with France’s Hippolyte Macchetti and Aloise Retornaz edging ahead of Germany’s Luise Wanser and Philipp Autenrieth, but the top 10 could change a lot over the next two days, with nearly everyone nursing significant discards already.
The men’s slalom groups were not completed and the women’s not started, qualification for gold fleet will be completed tomorrow.
A field of 751 sailors from over 50 countries will compete at the 53rd Semaine Olympique Française (French Olympic Week) on April 25-30, 2022.
MORE: Among the North American contingent, Canadian Sarah Douglas has fallen to 10th in the ILCA 6, with Mexico’s Mariana Aguilar Chavez Peon moving up one position in the iQFoil (13th). For the US Team, the top performers are Daniela Moroz (1st, Women’s Formula Kite), Nevin Snow/ Mac Agnese (2nd, 49er), Andrew Mollerus/ Ian MacDiarmid (4th, 49er), Steph Roble/ Maggie Shea (4th, 49erFX), Sarah Newberry/ David Liebenberg (14th, Nacra 17), and Markus Edegran (16th, Men’s Formula Kite).