It was a miserable cold grey day on the Mediterranean, completely overcast 11-14 knots from the west early, then a rain shower killed the breeze on Hyeres Bay.
Rio 2016 Silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan were in fine spirits as they came off the water after outperforming the 470 Men’s fleet with a third and first in the two races.
Belcher spoke first ‘Nice to know we still have our rhythm. What is encouraging for us is that after a long summer break we are up there with Mantis and Kagialis (GRE), the Rio Bronze medallists who have not stopped training and racing since Rio. (They were third at the World Cup in Miami, sailed some home regattas then were fifth in a close fought Princesa Sofia regatta in Palma, a couple of weeks ago.)
‘Today we just did the simple things well. We started well and had good speed, typically we are fast in those conditions.
‘In our first race we were on the wrong side of a shift and that dropped us into the teens so to come back up to third was encouraging.
‘In the second race we started well and made some good decisions. It was a tight final reach and we just managed to squeeze past Winkel and Cipra (GER) to win.
‘Urged on by Will I was hiking too and he tells me that made the difference in the last five metres. I am not a fan of hiking but Will makes me hike when we are going the wrong way so I guess it is an incentive to try and get the shifts.
‘It was a super close two metres. But a win is a win and we will take it.’
Ryan commented ‘Today we had our first win of the season and the first win of this campaign too, it’s shaping as an interesting regatta.
‘The great thing about the Olympic circuit is the opportunity for long term development which you don’t get in many classes, other than perhaps the America’s Cup. Now at the beginning of the next cycle we are making small but deliberate steps in several areas.
‘Next week we will be in Monaco for the 2017 European 470 titles. It’s likely to be extremely light, not what we enjoy. But it will put us in pretty good shape for the Worlds which is the target event this year for us.’
Matt Wearn showed today why the Australian Laser squad is so strong, he finished four places ahead of his team-mate, Tom Burton the Rio Olympic Gold medallist, behind Sam Meech (NZL).
Standing in the rain on the boat ramp after the last race had been blown out Matt Wearn said ‘Sam sailed well today, he had great speed and that counted for a lot.
‘The conditions were tricky with lots of pressure differences and shifts. The final part of the last upwind and the last downwind was the deciding factor.
‘I found a good groove downwind today after getting a yellow flag yesterday and that seemed to help me catch some places on the runs. I feel I have good boat speed around the course so now it's just a matter of putting the boat in the right place and today I picked one or two small shifts that helped too.’
Tom Burton said ‘It was tricky with two big shifts in the race. Meech was on the right side of the first shift up the first beat, led around the top mark and was just away. I rounded around fifth but picked the wrong bottom mark, then I got crossed up at the second beat to lose two boats or so and finished eighth.
‘Matt is fifth and I am sixth overall, but there is a long way to go in this regatta, looking at the results so far, I am the only one with three single digits and I know better than most that consistency is the key.’
Brothers Will and Sam Phillips racing in the 49er class had another mixed day with an 8, (26), 17 and are now 22nd overall.
Will commented ‘We are a little bit off the pace this week, we had our own boat last year in Hyeres when we came third. We are still tuning our charter boat and we are struggling for speed, it’s like fighting with one arm tied behind your back. The one bright spot for us today was our eighth.’
In the Finn class Ollie Tweddell, who came second at this regatta last year is now in 22nd after scoring 15th and 19th.
ASS Laser sailor Mitch Kennedy is 17th, Jeremy O’Connell is 19th and Luke Elliott is 53rd.
The series continues tomorrow and Friday with 49er medal racing on Saturday 29th and Laser, Finn and 470 Men’s on Sunday 30th.
Australian Sailing Team (AST) & Squad (ASS) at Sailing World Cup Hyeres 2017
Men’s Two Person Dinghy - 470M
Mathew Belcher (QLD/QAS) & Will Ryan (QLD/QAS) – AST: (10),3,3,1 – 2nd
Men’s Skiff - 49er
Will & Sam Phillips (VIC/VIS) – AST: 21,21,19,8,(26),17 – 22nd
Men’s One Person Dinghy (Heavyweight) - Finn
Oliver Tweddell (VIC/VIS) – AST: (21),15,15,19 – 22nd
Men’s One Person Dinghy – Laser
Tom Burton (NSW/NSWIS) – AST: 4,5,(8) – 6th
Matt Wearn (WA/WAIS) – AST: 5,(15),4 – 5th
Luke Elliot (WA/WAIS) – ASS: 43,(52),50 – 56th
Mitch Kennedy (QLD/QAS) – ASS: 11,(28),26 – 22nd
Jeremy O'Connell (VIC/VIS) – ASS: 10,(34),24 – 21st
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RESULTS / ENTRIES
A full list of sailors registered to sail in Hyères is available to view here - http://manage2sail.com/en-US/event/0adf7bcd-01d0-4214-a295-bb0b9136999e#!/entries?classId=7a9662de-4565-41e3-9008-4025d3177d5e
Results will be available from Tuesday 25 April via the World Cup Series results centre here - http://www.sailing.org/worldcup/results/index.php
Live tracking and competitor's analytics will be available via SAP Sailing Analytics throughout the event here - http://swc2017-hyeres.sapsailing.com/