STRONG winds led to a disrupted opening day at the French World Cup regatta but in the events where racing was possible, Britain’s top sailors made their first day count amid the breezy conditions.
Portland’s Megan Pascoe and Helena Lucas ensured a Skandia Team GBR one-two in the only race of the day for the 2.4mR Paralympic class, while Alison Young, also from the island, and Weymouth’s Charlotte Dobson were also quick out of the blocks in ‘top end’ wind strengths in the Laser Radial fleet.
The day’s racing 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 Pascoe pipped her team-mate 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.
“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.”
Meanwhile, Portland’s 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, 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!”
With more moderate conditions anticipated for today, event organisers will look to catch up on missed races, with racing in the 2.4mR, SKUD and Women’s Match Racing – where Poole’s Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor will begin their title defence – brought forward to 9.30amstarts.
Racing at the French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyeres continues until the final medal races on Friday April 27.
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