ISAF World Cup Hyeres - Strong winds on opening day for Team GBR

Megan Pascoe, 2,4mR class - Semaine Olympique Francaise de Voile 2012
© Richard Langdon/Skandia Team GBR
ISAF World Cup Hyeres, the ISAF Sailing World Cup second European stop, is being held in Hyéres, France from 22nd April to 27th April 2012.

Skandia Team GBR: Strong winds led to a disrupted opening day at the French World Cup regatta today, Sunday 22nd April, but in the events where racing was possible, Britain’s top sailors made their first day count amid the breezy conditions.

Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas ensured a Skandia Team GBR 1-2 in the only race of the day for the 2.4mR Paralympic class in Hyeres, while Alison Young and Charlotte Dobson were also quick out of the blocks in ‘top end’ wind strengths in the Laser Radial fleet.

The day’s racing in Hyeres started in steady 15-18kt conditions, but building wind speeds with gusts of up to 38kts meant that some classes with scheduled afternoon starts never managed to leave the shore.

The 2.4mR and SKUD Paralympic classes could only manage one of their two scheduled races for this first day of the French Olympic Sailing Week. In the 2.4mR event, the 2011 Hyeres silver medallist Megan Pascoe pipped her teammate Lucas across the line in a tight finish, with the 25-year-old admitting 'it was a really solid start, and it’s nice to have a windy Hyeres regatta again as it’s been a while!'

'Both me and Helena were going really, really well today,' continued Pascoe, who is aiming to qualify for her first Paralympic Games this summer.

'I had the pace upwind, she had the pace downwind but we both had the pace over the whole fleet, so something is going right in training! It does show that the trials are working and I think we’ll get the best boat to the Games at the end of it.'

Lucas was equally pleased with her first day’s performance, describing the downwind conditions for the small one-person keelboats as 'exciting to scary!'

'I don’t think I’ve ever surfed the whole way down a run before,' Lucas explained 'but the faster you went, you knew you were safe as the boat started bouncing on top of the wave. It was when you slowed down and then the next gust and wave would come and the bow would just disappear. At one point I was up to my waist in water, with all the pumps going!'

'It was right down to the line, but good race and good to have finished it,' she concluded.

Meanwhile, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell also saw a solid start to their regatta in the two-person Paralympic SKUD class. The four-time World Champions finished second in their only race of the day behind perennial rivals Dan Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch from Australia.

In the Laser Radial class, Alison Young notched up the perfect scoreline with two race wins in the blue fleet, while Dobson earned a win and a third from her two yellow fleet races to see the Skandia Team GBR sailors in first and third places respectively.

'The racing got pretty full on today with the breeze kicking up,' said the 24-year-old Young.

'It made the downwinds good fun and made for a good old hike off upwind, but the last three days of training we’ve had out here have given us a good bit of breeze to get for this week so the preparation has gone well. I’m happy with whatever we get, as long as we get to go racing.

'It’s a good start to the regatta and something to build from over the next few races.'

The 25-year-old Dobson was also pleased with her start to the six-day regatta amid the testing and physical conditions.

'It’s been a really, really, really windy day and there was plenty of scope for capsizing and all sorts of things so I was pretty happy to get away with it unscathed!'

Skandia Team GBR’s Star crews of Iain Percy-Andrew Simpson and John Gimson-Anthony Shanks, the Sonar trio of John Robertson-Hannah Stodel-Steve Thomas will have to wait until Monday (23 April) to start their regatta, as will the 49er teams of John Pink-Rick Peacock, Dave Evans-Ed Powys, Stevie Morrison-Ben Rhodes and Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign.

All four British boats were assigned to the 49er blue fleet for the opening day of the regatta, but with just one race possible for the yellow fleet and just 11 boats managing to finish that in the building breeze, the blue fleet were held ashore and will start their racing on Monday.

Skandia Team GBR’s development squad sailors saw some racing action on their first day, with windsurfers Izzy Hamilton and Claudia Carney in 17th and 25th after their two races, while Alex Mills-Barton saw 12,10 on the Laser course today to sit him in 31st overall.

With more moderate conditions anticipated for Monday, event organisers will look to catch up on missed races, with racing in the 2.4mR, SKUD and Women’s Match Racing – where Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor will begin their title defence – brought forward to 0930 starts.

Racing at the French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyeres continues on Monday 23 April, with the final medal races scheduled for Friday 27 April.

Skandia Team GBR website