AN EARLY start to the third day of racing at the French World Cup regatta seemed to have no ill-effects on Britain’s Star, Sonar and 49er sailors, nor Portland’s Alison Young who extended her lead in the Laser Radial fleet.
Young once again revelled in the breezy conditions, picking up a two and one from her two races in the yellow fleet to extend her lead to four points over Australia’s Krystal Weir, with world champion Marit Bouw-meester in third.
“It definitely gets harder from here going into the gold fleet,” said Young, looking ahead to the rest of the regatta. “There are four races and the medal race to go, so still a lot of racing. I just need to be consistent for the remaining races.
“The legs are keeping it together,” she said of the physical conditions. “It would be good to have a bit more light wind racing, to make it a bit more of a thinking game, but we’ll take whatever we get.”
Fellow 2012 hopeful Charlotte Dobson, from Weymouth, also had a strong day in the Radial blue fleet, posting five and two to see her up to fifth overall and within reach of the podium spots.
Tuesday at the French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyeres signalled a return to strong wind conditions and a 9am start for a number of classes, with event organisers anxious to ensure some racing before the breeze became too much, with gusts of up to 35 knots witnessed during the afternoon.
The Star and Sonar classes were among the first to race, with Skandia Team GBR’s Iain Percy and Sher-borne’s Andrew Simpson closing in on the Canadian event leaders in the Star, Richard Clarke and Tyler Bjorn, by winning what turned out to be the only race of the day.
In the Paralympic Sonar event, Portland’s John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas put their 12th from race three on Monday behind them by adding another win to their scorecard to pull them into the top three after four races.
Stodel, who will race for ParalympicsGB this summer with Robertson and Thomas, has been enjoying the windy conditions experienced so far in Hyeres.
She said: “It’s been a while since we actually sailed in this kind of breeze, so it’s nice to come back and put the boat through its paces. We’ve brought the new boat here and are testing a few things, and I’m pleased to say it’s going well.
“It was honking today – we managed to pull away from the fleet and stay clear to win the race, so we’re happy.
“The nine o’clock start was not ideal,” Stodel admitted. “People don’t realise that we’re not Laser sailors and we can’t roll out of bed five minutes beforehand and just throw a wetsuit on. Unfortunately for John that meant a 4.30am start this morning so I think he’s feeling it now.”
Stodel added: “This week we’re just working on all the stuff we’ve been training with – the new things on the boat, testing some sails, and hopefully this is going to be the cut off regatta that we’re going to have everything ready for the Games, so it’s nice to put everything through its paces really.
“We’re keeping an eye out on the competition, but it’s mainly equipment focus for us – it’s nice to be racing anyway.”
Skandia Team GBR’s 49er sailors made the best of their only race of the day, with Dave Evans and Ed Powys crossing the line with a sizeable winning margin, but just behind them in that race were Beijing Olympians Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes who top the leaderboard by one point after five races.
John Pink and Rick Peacock are fifth overall with a seventh from their race, Evans and Powys are up to 12th, with Dylan Fletcher and Alain Sign in 16th.
By early afternoon, any further prospect of racing for most classes had been abandoned – GBR’s women’s match racing trio, plus the 2.4mR and SKUD sailors never left the shore.
Skandia Team GBR’s development squad sailors showed their promise in the RS:X Women’s and Laser events – Izzy Hamilton is 14th overall, while Alex Mills Barton is 19th in the Laser class with a six and seven for his efforts.
Racing at the French Olympic Sailing Week continues until Friday.
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