Hannah Mills & Saskia Clark

World Cup provides tough French test on opening day

Written by RYA | 22 April 2015

A light wind first day for new-look ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyeres

It was a high scoring opening day of ISAF Sailing World Cup racing in Hyeres on Wednesday (22 April), with the some of the biggest names in Olympic Classes sailing finding the light wind, puffy conditions a tough test on the French Riviera.

Consistency was most definitely the key on this first day of racing under the new 40-boat, invitational World Cup format, and Olympic silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were among those in the British cohort to find that amid shifty winds which caught out some high flyers across the ten Olympic and two Paralympic Classes.

Mills and Clark are poised in overall third in the 470 Women’s event after the first day of five, with Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas also seeing a steady first day to sit in second after two races in the 2,4mR event, with the British Sailing Team’s John Robertson-Hannah Stodel-Steve Thomas third and Craig Wood-Steve Palmer-Liam Cattermole third and fifth in the Paralympic Sonar class.

Mills has seen early season success with Clark, winning silver at the Miami World Cup regatta and bronze in Palma earlier this month, and described a testing opening day on the 470 Women’s racecourse.

“It was particularly long day.  We did the sum total of four starts and four first upwinds.  Two races got abandoned, and then finally some good breeze came in from the south west and we got two pretty reasonable races in. 

“Overall we were quite consistent – not quite as high up as we’d have liked to have been but it was a solid first day,” described Mills, who picked up a seventh and a sixth from her two races with Clark to claim the red third placed jerseys ahead of Thursday’s second day.

“Our coach Joe promised us biscuits on the way in if we had the boring first day, which we succeeded in.  But we didn’t actually get the biscuits though!” she protested.

“It was a hard day.  There were 40 boats on the startline and we’re all used to probably a little bit less, certainly in a lot of the classes.  It feels congested so there’s a massive priority on lanes and just getting clear.  If you can get clear you can work your way to the front.”

The Cardiff sailor is relishing the tough competition under the new invitational World Cup format, where only the top 40 boats in the world are invited to race, and for a share of the EUR72,000 prize purse as announced by ISAF today.

“It’s actually quite nice to just know that from day one you’re racing everyone and you’re not always wondering what the other fleet is up to and how everyone has done,” she explained.

“From that perspective it’s really good, and the quality of racing is a lot harder, which is probably what we can see from the results being a bit more up and down. 

“I think it will be a bit higher scoring that Palma was for our fleet.  It’s going to be tough and we’ll have to keep going until the very last race.”

Mills and Clark’s Podium Potential Squad teammates Amy Seabright and Anna Carpenter also saw a pleasing start to their regatta, placing fifth overall after two races, while Sophie Weguelin-Eilidh McIntyre are 21st after a tough opening day.

Elsewhere, Giles Scott softened the pain of a 25th in his opening Finn race with a race win in the second to sit sixth overall, with Ed Wright scoring a third and a 30th to end his day in 12th.

Nick Dempsey is 11th in the RS:X men’s windsurfing event, with Izzy Hamilton 16th in the women’s equivalent, while Ben Saxton-Nicola Groves are the top-placed British crew in the Nacra 17 multihull, 11th overall after the fleet managed just two of its scheduled three races.

In the 49er class, Podium Potential sailors James Peters and Fynn Sterritt, who only secured a qualifying berth for the regatta via the Princess Sofia Trophy earlier this month, saw the best day of the British crews.  They’re sixth overall after three races and were happy with their opening day’s efforts.

“In the first race we had a maximum of five knots probably, which is borderline 49er sailing,” Sterritt explained.

“[The wind] picked up from there and got up to eight, nine, maybe ten knots at the end and the wind had swung right round to the south west.  We had a good day all in all – we’re happy with things.

“It’s 40 boats so much larger fleets and certainly in the lighter wind first race we were looking to get clear air, get away from the fleet and make sure that we were going quick basically, That was our strategy and tactics,” Sterritt continued.

“It was similar in the second two where it was almost best to play a little bit conservative because there are quite a lot of losses and gains to be made on that first beat.  That’s what we did and it seemed to work.”

Alison Young is 12th after two races in the women’s Laser Radial event, 470 Men’s pairing Luke Patience-Elliot Willis started their regatta with 14,18 to sit 15th overall, while Charlotte Dobson-Sophie Ainsworth endured a difficult opening day in the 49erFX, poised in 19th overall after their first three races.

Nick Thompson, Elliot Hanson and Alex Mills Barton are 23rd, 25th and 28th respectively in the Laser fleet.

Racing continues on Thursday 23 April, with the Paralympic Classes competition running until 25 April, and the Olympic Classes medal races, which will be streamed live online, on Sunday 26 April.

For all the latest news from the British Sailing Team, follow us at www.britishsailingteam.com, on Facebook or on Twitter @BritishSailing.


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