Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell held on to their 49er World Cup lead in Hyeres on Thursday (27 April) on a day where patience was key across the fleets.
Wind conditions built later than anticipated on this third day of competition, and knowing that Friday’s forecast looks set to bring big breeze and potentially a day confined to shore, sailors and race management alike were eager to eke out the best conditions and complete the day’s schedule.
Fletcher and Bithell started their day in style, adding a fourth race win of the week to their scorecard, and followed up with an eighth and a fourth to keep hold of the yellow jerseys.
They lead the men’s high performance event by a two-point margin over Spain’s Diego Botin-Iago Lopez, with Fletcher acknowledging that Friday’s windy forecast potentially meant the ten berths for Saturday’s medal race would be determined on the water today.
“We certainly discussed going into today that tomorrow, with the Mistral forecast, that we might not race so we needed to be aware of that. We attacked the three races as if we had a no discard series. It went really well. We had a solid day, I’m really happy.”
“We were expecting good breeze of 12 knots upwards but that didn’t materialise until later on this afternoon so first race was a bit lighter than expected,” Bithell explained. “I think the [FX] racing was a lot lighter than expected.”
“We got three good, solid races in. The race officer did really well and we had a solid day.”
While the boat park chatter was all about conditions being in excess of 30 knots tomorrow, Bithell was pragmatic.
“Our sport’s unique in that Mother Nature dictates when we go racing and when we don’t. We’ll prepare like we would normally for a windy day’s racing. It was lighter than forecast today so maybe tomorrow we’ll get out and have a real good yacht around. Hyeres at its finest!”
James Peters and Fynn Sterritt join their British Sailing Team colleagues inside the top ten spots, currently in eighth place after nine races.
Charlotte Dobson and Saskia Tidey maintained a top three position in the 49erFX fleet after steady 11,8,6 in light wind conditions, with Kate Macgregor and Sophie Ainsworth also breaking into the top ten, in tenth.
In the Finn class, overnight leader Ben Cornish dropped to third overall, equal points with second, with 16,10 on the water today, with Ed Wright posting 23,2 to see him in eighth place.
Windsurfer Izzy Hamilton wrapped up her three-race day with a win which takes her within two points of the podium spots, in fourth overall, with teammate Emma Wilson ninth, while Amy Seabright-Anna Carpenter also drew within touching distance of the top three spots in the 470 Women’s event. They posted 3,7 on the water today to sit fourth overall, with Jess Lavery-Flora Stewart in ninth.
In the Nacra 17 fleet, four British boats are hovering just outside of the medal places, with Tom Phipps-Nikki Boniface in fourth, John Gimson-Anna Burnet fifth and Ben Saxton-Steph Orton in sixth.
Nick Thompson recovered from a tough first race of three to end the day fifth overall in the Laser event, three points from the bronze medal position, while Alison Young enjoyed her best day of the regatta so far with 10,5 on the water elevating her into 16th overall in the Laser Radial class.
Tom Squires picked up to 18th place in the RS:X men’s windsurfing event with the help of two seventh places among his three races, while development 470 duo Martin Wrigley-James Taylor are 26th overall.
No racing was possible in the invitational Formula Kite event, but the 2.4mR class saw two races with Will Street in 11th overall.
Competition at the 2017 World Cup Series in Hyeres, France, continues on Friday 28 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 medal races 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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