SAILING: Strong start from Fletcher and Sign

Dorset Echo: GOOD FIRST DAY: Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign GOOD FIRST DAY: Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign

DEFENDING champions Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign made their podium intentions clear on a fantastic first day of racing at the ISAF Sailing World Cup event in Hyeres today.

The 49er European champions were quick out of the blocks on a three-race day for the men’s skiff fleet, while the Sonar trio of John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas took an early advantage to sit them on top of the standings after two races in the three-person Paralympic fleet.

The 2013 edition of this Hyeres World Cup saw a confidence-boosting first regatta win for Fletcher and Sign – and with the duo having been on the podium in major regattas three more times since, including a bronze at the Palma World Cup two weeks ago, they’re buoyed by their form coming into this event.

Not to be outdone, Fletcher’s girlfriend Charlotte Dobson and crew Sophie Ainsworth saw a solid start to their regatta in the women’s 49erFX fleet, with a race win among their three races seeing them into third after the opening day.

Portland’s Eilidh McIntyre’s splinted finger didn’t appear to impact her racing on Monday, as she and Sophie Weguelin picked up a seventh and a third from the two races in the 470 women’s fleet to see them poised in third place.

Meanwhile in the 470 men’s event, a three-race day improved as it went on for Luke Patience, also based on the island, and Elliot Willis. The duo, competing in just their second event together since teaming up in February, scored 14-9-3 for their day.

In the Paralympic fleets, John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas saw a great start to their regatta with an opening day of 3-2 to sit them on top of the Sonar leaderboard, while Portland’s Miami World Cup winner Megan Pascoe had a consistent day in the 2.4mR event, posting two third places to place third overall going into day two. Paralympic champion Helena Lucas is poised in sixth.

Weymouth’s RS:X world champion Nick Dempsey picked up three consistent top-five results in the men’s windsurfing event, placing 10th overall. n Racing at the ISAF World Cup Hyeres continues today with the final medal races scheduled for Saturday.

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