Ben Cornish admitted he didn’t make life easy on himself in spite of taking an early lead at sailing’s World Cup Series event in Hyeres, France, on Tuesday (25 April).
The Finn talent was one of three British boats to sit inside the top three positions after the first day of competition, with double Laser World Champion Nick Thompson and 49er duo Dylan Fletcher-Stuart Bithell second overall in their respective events.
Exmouth’s Cornish, who trained alongside Rio Olympic Champion Giles Scott in his Games build-up, won the opening race of the series in the heavyweight men’s fleet, but confessed that his victory had not been an entirely seamless display.
“The first race was an accumulation of schoolboy errors I think!” the 25-year-old explained.
“I forgot that the free pumping flag was up so did the first run without pumping, and then I sailed around the leeward gate which I didn’t need to do, before the finish line. I definitely didn’t make that one easy!”
“I can’t complain. Certainly it was a day that was easier to get wrong than it was to get right, so I’m glad to come out of it unscathed!”
Cornish went on to place sixth in the second race of the day to take the yellow jersey into Wednesday’s second day of competition, while Dylan Fletcher-Stuart Bithell turned around a difficult first race of three in the 49er fleet to end their opening day in second overall.
“It was quite tricky conditions with 8-10 knots and shifts but it was quite hard to spot them,” the 2016 Olympian Fletcher surmised. “We had one bad race and then a three and a one. A nice way to finish but we’re a bit disappointed with the first race.”
“It’s quite funny really because since Palma we’ve been pretty much solely working on our starts and in the first race we didn’t get a good start and were immediately spat out!” Bithell explained of their ‘disappointing’ 21st in race one, which quickly became their discard score after a third and a first in the two subsequent races.
Consistency was key in the Laser fleet, where Nick Thompson sits just behind Cyprus’ Pavlos Kontides at the top of the leaderboard after two races with 3,2 for his opening day’s efforts.
“We had two really close battles,” he recalled. “I rounded the windward mark tenth or something like that – maybe a bit higher both times – and Pavlos was gone so it was very hard for me to try and catch him from there. But I managed to pull through and overtake a lot of other boats so it was pretty rewarding.”
The 30-year-old is enjoying post-Rio return and although he’s now one of the more experienced hands in the class, he feels there’s yet more to come from his Laser sailing.
“I had a little break after Rio but found my love again for the boat and the sport, and so I thought why not jump back in in Miami, and then Miami turned into Palma, Palma turned into this and here I am again doing another Olympic cycle! I’m still really enjoying it and hopefully I’m still improving with good things to come.
“The expectations for me [this year] are to try and improve on some of the mistakes I made in the last Olympic cycle. I wasn’t far off the mark, but there are definitely some things I can improve on.
“Really for me it’s not so much about the results as about trying to make improvements. I’ve been doing that quite a bit and for the last couple of events have been doing some quite different strategies to what I’d normally do and it seems to be working. It’s moving in the right direction.”
After two races, Thompson is joined in the Laser top ten by two fellow British Sailing Team athletes – Miami World Cup bronze medallist Lorenzo Chiavarini in seventh and Palma silver medallist Elliot Hanson in tenth.
Britain’s 470 Women’s teams saw a steady start to their regatta, with Jess Lavery-Flora Stewart in fourth posting 6,5 from their opening day and Amy Seabright-Anna Carpenter in overall seventh, while in the RS:X Women’s windsurfing event, Izzy Hamilton and Emma Wilson are currently fifth and eighth respectively after three races.
In the 49erFX, three races of 2,8,8 sees Charlotte Dobson-Saskia Tidey in overall fifth, with Tom Phipps-Nikki Boniface and John Gimson-Anna Burnet level on points in eighth and ninth places respectively after three races in the Nacra 17 multihull fleet.
Alison Young is currently 12th in the Laser Radial, Tom Squires is 19th in the men’s RS:X and Podium Potential squad pairing Martin Wrigley-James Taylor are the top-ranked British crew in the 470 men’s event in 30th.
In the invitational 2.4mR and kiteboard events, Will Street and Connor Bainbridge are both poised in ninth place.
Competition at the 2017 World Cup Series in Hyeres, France, continues on Wednesday 26 April and culminates in medal racing on Saturday 29 April for the 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17, RS:X Men and RS:X Women’s events, and on Sunday 30 April for the Laser, Laser Radial, 470 Men, 470 Women and Finn.
Full regatta results from round two of the 2017 World Cup Series in Hyeres, France.
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