Semaine Olympique Francaise - Aussies strong start

Tom Slingsby on day two of racing in Hyeres - Semaine Olympique Francaise
Michael Blackburn
Semaine Olympique Francaise.

Australian sailors have continued to push ahead on the second day of racing at round four of the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Hyeres, France.


With conditions expected to lighten over the next few days the majority of fleets were able to complete three races on Monday, with Australian Sailing Team crews having good days in the Laser, 470 and Women’s Match Racing classes.

Tom Slingsby has opened up a five point lead in the Laser class with the three-time World Champion having a consistent day in the shifty conditions where some his highly fancied competition weren’t as lucky.

'It was a challenging day today with a lot of big scores throughout the fleet but I had a pretty good day with a first, 13th and a seventh,' said Slingsby. 'The first race was light and tricky and I sailed well to win it on the last run. The second race was in a nice eight knot breeze, no real shifts and it seemed like a bit of a speed race to me before the start.

'Soon after the start I realised the tide line on the right hand side was offering big gains but unfortunately I was unable to get there and struggled around mid fleet,' he said. 'The last race was the same story, a real race for the right hand side. Again I didn’t get off the start line well enough and was around mid fleet at the top but sailed well to come back to seventh.

'I’m sailing well and have very good speed, the next few days look extremely light and shifty so I think consistency will be the big winner over the next three days,' he said.

Fellow Australian Sailing Team Laser competitor Tom Burton has stayed in touch with the leaders and ended day two in 10th, following a 23rd, an eighth and a sixth. Burton finds himself in a close points battle with those around him with just seven points separating third and himself in 10th.

In the 470 men’s fleet Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page worked their way up to third following a seventh, third and second on day two.

The reigning 470 World Champions now find themselves just four points off the lead with one more day of qualifying racing remaining before the competitors are split into Gold and Silver fleets.

'We feel like we’re doing pretty well with a seventh, third and second today with good speed,' said Page. 'Mathew and I are definitely feeling better in the boat than what we were a few weeks back in Spain, it’s amazing what two weeks sailing will do.

'The top three are not carrying bad races at this stage and over the next two days the conditions are not expected to be great, so it could be bad score-wise quite easily,' he said. 'It would be great to have all single digits by the time we get to the finals but there’s still a lot of racing to go.'

In the Women’s Match Racing competition Australians Katie Spithill, Jessica Eastwell and Lucinda Whitty finished the opening round robin with four wins and three losses to move through to the repechage round robin for a shot at a position in the quarter-finals.

'We’re happy with our day but are totally exhausted,' said skipper Spithill. 'The waves were short and choppy which made it very difficult to get speed upwind.

'Yet again it was another challenging day,' she said. 'Our four wins in the group was enough to get us through to the repechage tomorrow and we learnt plenty of lessons which we’re ready to put into practice on day three.'

Fellow Australian Women’s Match Racing Team members Nicky Souter, Nina Curtis and Olivia Price had a tough day of racing and while Spithill and crew’s four wins was enough to get through to the next round, four wins for Souter, Curtis and Price left them fifth in the group.

The Australian trio will contest the Silver fleet from day three onwards.

Brendan Casey is 22nd in the Finn fleet following an opening race eighth and a 35th. The Finn fleet was only able to complete two races on Monday, meaning that the competitors are yet to drop their worst result.

Tessa Parkinson and Marieke Jongens are 41st in the 470 women’s fleet after being called over the line early in race one before a 46th and a 36th to finish off the day.

Australian Sailing Squad member Krystal Weir has continued her strong run in the Laser Radial class with a second, fourth and an eighth on day two moving her from an overnight position of seventh to be fourth overall.

Fellow Squad members Sam Kivell and Will Ryan had a mixed day on the water, with a great race win bookended by a 49th and a 29th. The pair is in 29th but in a tight group on the leader board, and with a strong day three can jump up the rankings.

In the Laser fleet Ryan Palk had three good race results to move himself up to 16th overall. After not finishing the first race of the regatta Palk has been in the mix in every race since then and on day two recorded a seventh, 13th and a second.

Ashley Brunning ended the day 64th in the Laser class after a 32nd, 18th and 27th.

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