Nick Dempsey

Snakes and ladders racing on light wind third day in Hyeres

Written by RYA | 29 April 2016

Dempsey takes the RS:X lead with two days of World Cup competition to go

Light and testing sea breeze conditions saw some leaderboard changes on day three of Sailing World Cup competition in Hyeres on Friday (29 April), with British crews in five podium positions with two days of racing to go.

The racing programme suffered weather disruptions for a second day, with some classes unable to fulfil their schedules and others sailing well into the evening to do so.

Olympic silver and bronze medallist Nick Dempsey made the best of his only race of the day in the RS:X Men’s fleet, posting a fifth place to see him take the overall lead, while Bryony Shaw remains in second in the women’s windsurfing fleet, picking up a 12th in her sole race on Friday.

Saturday will see the final day of competition for the Paralympic classes, and London 2012 gold medallist Helena Lucas celebrated her birthday by improving her overall standing to second in the 2.4mR fleet with two races to go.

But it wasn’t an easy day for the 41-year-old: “Emotional, I think is the way to describe it! I had three awful starts and the first race didn’t go so well.” explained Lucas, who picked up an 11th in the first of her three races before hitting back with a second and a third.

“I must have been going pretty well in the second two races because I managed to somehow recover from those starts, managed to play some shifts right and put in two half decent results in the end.

“Coming off the startline in all three races I thought I wasn’t going to be celebrating much tonight! But luckily I seem to be doing everything else well.”

Exactly one year ago today, Lucas became the first British athlete, either Olympic or Paralympic, to be officially named for Rio 2016, and the Southampton sailor believes her early selection will standing her in good stead for her gold medal defence in September.

“It’s very much enabled us to be Rio-focussed rather than having to focus on the events that make up trials,” she explained. It’s also given me the opportunity to get out [to Rio] quite a bit – I think I’ve been out there three times since selection was made.

“We’ve also been focussing on the kit and improving that, which we were doing anyway, but it’s given us the opportunity to speed everything up a little bit. We’re kind in a position now where we’re just trying to be race sharp. Everything’s coming together. It’s given me time to be properly prepared, and hopefully we’ve left no stone unturned.”

Lucas will have two races remaining on Saturday, and heads into her final day just two points behind Australian leader Matt Bugg, and with Norway’s Bjornar Erikstad and France’s Damien Seguin just a point behind her in third and fourth.

In the Sonar fleet, overnight leaders John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas dropped to third with 3,7,8 on the course today. Saturday will also see the final opportunities for sailors to qualify for the top ten medal race spots on Sunday in the Olympic classes.

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark remain firmly in the hunt in the 470 Women’s event, in second overall just a point behind the Brazilian crew, while teammates Sophie Weguelin and Eilidh McIntyre are also eying a medal race berth, currently in ninth and with three races scheduled for tomorrow.

In the 470 Men’s fleet, Luke Patience and Chris Grube were happy to bounce back with an eighth in today’s only race, after a big points day on Thursday where they picked up a black flag disqualification and a 26th. Now in ninth overall, they’ll be looking to consolidate their medal race position.

“We were a little bit slow in the first race yesterday, we were just struggling for a little bit of pace,” Grube explained.

“Our programme at the moment is all aimed at getting us going faster but when you’re trying to go faster sometimes you have to accept you’re going to go slower at some points! We’d managed to sort some of those issues out yesterday but then we were trying to push the line a bit hard in the second race. Generally not the best way to finish a day with so many points. Today the aim was just to go out and have a solid race, which we did!”

Grube is confident in the progress that he and Patience are making in their partnership, rekindled after a seven year break, and formed in light of Elliot Willis’s cancer treatment.

“A lot of water’s gone under the bridge since Luke and I sailed together last. Now that we’re back together we’ve actually matured a lot, a lot of things have changed and we’ve sailed with different people and I honestly think that that experience of sailing with different people makes a huge difference.

“Our results now compared to what they were before are a lot better. We’re just aiming to keep on improving – we’ve not got long to the Games now with less than 100 days to go.

“We’re gunning for it. There’s no reason why we can’t medal in Rio.”

Elsewhere, Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves are well placed in fourth in the Nacra 17 fleet, Alison Young is fifth in the Laser Radial class and Nick Thompson is in seventh in the Laser event.

In the 49er class, James Peters-Fynn Sterritt are in fifth, John Pink-Stuart Bithell are sixth and Dylan Fletcher-Alain Sign looking to advance into the top ten in their four scheduled races on Saturday.

Full results are available at www.sailing.org/worldcup  

Racing will resume from 1100hrs (local) on Saturday 30 April including the final races for the Paralympic classes. The medal races for the Olympic classes are scheduled for Sunday 1 May.

Live medal race coverage will be available on Sunday 1 May – stay with us at www.britishsailingteam.com, on Facebook or Twitter @BritishSailing for updates throughout the week.

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