On a tricky opening day of light winds at the World Cup Series Hyères the British Sailing Team came away with an impressive list of top ten positions.
Winds that dropped to as low as four knots played havoc among the fleets as the 650 from 46 nations battled for consistency on the south coast of France.
The British Sailing Team however managed to claim ten top ten spots on the overnight leader boards.
Aiming to improve on their silver medal at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Spain, earlier this month, 470 pair Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre flew out of the blocks with a brace of top five finishes to sit second overall on day one.
The duo teamed up in June last year for a tilt at gold at Tokyo 2020, and have since impressed with a gold medal at the 2017 World Cup Series Final and silvers from the 470 World Championships and Princess Sofia.
“It was a lot different to our last time out in Palma,” Mills said. “There were more boats on the course and suddenly everywhere you looked there were people which made it challenging at times, especially from the back where we found ourselves at the start.
“Luckily we had great downwind speed and made some great decisions to get clear and sail fast.”
For crew McIntyre there was a bit of relief as their training came good. “I had to pump today which was full on,” she said, “but it worked and we will take that. It’s been a challenge to get stronger over the winter but it has paid off which I’m happy with. Add that to the great decisions Hannah was making and it was a good start from us.”
Three British teams are inside the top ten in the Nacra 17 but with only one race completed it is still early days for the multihull sailors.
Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface are top claiming the only bullet on offer with Rupert White and Kirstie Urwin in fourth and John Gimson and Anna Burnet ninth.
In the Laser Standard Britain’s Lorenzo Chiavarini holds a podium spot sitting in third overall thanks to some good downwind speed, while World Cup Series debutant Sam Whaley lies eighth.
“It started off typical Hyeres,” stated Chiavarini. “The left of the course had a little bit more pressure and that meant very tight racing as we have all been here and seen it before. I just missed out on a little shift so finished down in the first race.
“I made up for it in the second though as I caught a great downwind to take over a lot of boats and finally finish up in third.”
Speed was also the key to success for Georgina Povall in the Laser Radial – although hers came right off the start.
“Because it was a light wind day it is easy to have a good race and a bad race,” she said. “Luckily for me I got off to great starts in both races which gave me the option to cover the fleets and stay in the pressure.”
Because of those starts Povall claimed an eighth and 11th from her two races to finish fifth overall as many struggled for similar consistency.
Reigning 49er world champions Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell sandwiched a bullet between a 17th and 21st to finish the day in eighth overall.
In the 49erFX Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth faired a little better than their male counterparts sitting in sixth at the end of day one. The skiff sailors could only finish two races as the afternoon winds dropped, but the two Sophies took a third and 13th in the two races they did complete and are the top British FX team.
Recovering from a tough start to his Hyères Finn campaign in which he finished 25th in the opening race, Ben Cornish claiming the runner-up spot in the lightwinds second race to go into day two in ninth.
Current RS:X youth world champion Emma Wilson sits in 15th in the women’s fleet while Tom Squires is top Brit in the men’s sitting in 13th.
The British Sailing Team all return to action on day two with racing scheduled to begin in Hyères at 1100 local time (0900 GMT) on Wednesday 25 April.
Full results are available on the Manage2Sail website on behalf of World Sailing.
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