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Sixty-one year old Olympic champion makes the Hyères cut a week after appendicitis

If there was any doubt about the level of pressure at the 54th Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - TPM as the crews raced on day 3 to make the qualification cut for gold fleet they should speak to the Argentina’s Olympic champion, Santiago Lange.

The opening days of a sailing regatta, like the qualification rounds of any contest, are all about making the cut, but that is rarely meant as literally as for Lange, Argentina’s Olympic champion, who has already faced several cuts after going down with appendicitis.
Less than a week ago, the 61-year-old Lange, who won gold in the Nacra in Rio 2016 (after bronzes in the Tornado in Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008), had his appendix out after waking in pain. Already worried about not making the cut to be Argentina’s representative for the Paris 2024 Olympics, Lange and his new racing partner, Victoria Travascio, were back on the water training 48 hours later, with Lange’s three cuts to his abdomen bandaged up.

“I had my appendix removed on Wednesday I think, Tuesday or Wednesday, I’m really tired, but really good,” Lange said before racing on Wednesday. “The body is holding on really well, but still not physically fit. I’d rank myself 3 out of 10 but it’s important to say I’m not sailing on painkillers,. Obviously in the Nacra you need to be aggressive and powerful and I am not aggressive and powerful right now.
“It’s our trials for the Olympics and I want to keep fighting to go to Paris, obviously if it was a normal year I wouldn’t sail, but if we don’t sail that will be the end of it.
“Mateo Majdalini & Eugenia Bosco (the other leading Argentinian crew) are doing a really good job, they beat us in Palma so they are ahead of us.”

Lange is no stranger to adversity or fast comebacks, having fought back from cancer and subsequent lung operation to win Olympic gold at Rio 2016 nine months later and is determined to be at what would be his eighth Olympics in 2024.

From 25 to 5 knots

After two days of Mistral all 10 Olympic classes faced a drop from 25 down to 5 knots of wind and a long and light third day of racing to reach their minimum number of races to make the first qualification cut. The leading boats will now comet together in gold fleet as they seek to qualify for the medal races on Saturday.
The race track was the same, the skies were blue and the sun shone all day in the Bay of Hyères, but the pressure was entirely different. The morning fleets were welcomed by 6-8 shifty south-westerlies, which dropped further by lunchtime and racing continued into the evening.

Nacra 17 (mixed double-handed hydrofoil catamaran)

Four races today

Santiago Lange & Victoria Travascio needed a great first race on Wednesday and had one, finishing second. The problem was that their rivals for Argentina’s Nacra place in the Olympics - Mateo Majdalini & Eugenia Bosco - beat them. “After the first race he (Lange) felt so bad, he was kind of shaking and sweating. I said ‘OK, I think we should go in’. Travascio said. “But, he’s strong.” They struggled through the next two, finishing 14th then 16th and their qualification for the gold fleet was in the balance. “I think for the last one because it was our last chance to get on the gold fleet we said let’s go for something extreme and we did it.” They won the the race to jump to 17th overall, into gold fleet and have a shot at making the medal race. Majdalini & Bosco were 5th and lie 7th overall.
Jason Waterhouse & Lisa Darmanin (5th at the Tokyo Olympics) hold the overall lead after finishing 1, 12, 4, 6 in yellow fleet. But Britain’s John Gimson & Anna Burnett, Olympic silver medalists in Tokyo and second here last year, have the lower total points and better discard options after finishing 3, 1, 5, 7.
Ruggero Tita & Caterina Banti, Italy’s Olympic and world champions and the winners here last year, are in the unusual position of qualifying in 9th place overall, and as the third-placed Italian boat, after 10, 3, 7, 13 finishes. But there is very little between the top 10 in the Nacra fleet.

49er (men’s and women’s high-performance double-handed dinghy)

Women’s FX

Three races today

The huge wind drop did not change the top of the leaderboard. Italy’s Jana Germani & Giorgia Bertuzzi finished 14, 3, 3 in yellow fleet to just stay ahead of Dutch world champions, Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz who were 9, 2, 2. After a disastrous Tuesday falling foul of the rules and course layout, Brazil’s double Olympic champions, Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze finished 2, 2, 10 to lift themselves into 8th overall, but they have a mountain to climb.
“We’re happy that we managed to keep good positions apart from the first race,” Germani & Bertuzzi said. “Yesterday we were completely stretched with 25+ knots and today was the opposite.
“In the first race we tried to go right, but every time we tried somebody closed the door and then for the next two races we went right, got clean air and did well (3, 3). We were already in the top 3 at the top mark.
“We’re trying to put everything together. Luckily we trained a lot in conditions like yesterday in Cagliari last year. Light winds are not really our wind because we are heavier than the rest of the fleet, it was tricky, but we have the speed, we just needed to start well.
The Dutch are a super good team, but I wouldn’t forget the Brazilians because they’re always a top team.”

Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz: “We were racing the second and third races with Malta (Antonia Schultheis and Victoria Schultheis) , two very young talented girls, quite light bodyweight and it was really really challenging to keep up with them, but a lot of fun.”

Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze: “The first one yesterday, we had a really bad race and had to a 360 right at the start. Then in the second we had a pretty full on race with a lot of breeze and a few capsizes, but it was all good we were hustling through to the finish and then there was very strange finish and we rounded the wrong mark at the end, so instead of a 10th we had a DNF, so I was very, very angry yesterday.
"It left us in a very tough spot to be medal contenders. We got very good lanes on both of the first two races today. On the third race we made a little mistake on the start, and that was quite expensive and we were up and down. I call 5th to 15th “The Lion Group” and if the Lion catches you can go backwards 10 boats very easily. The people in front are just like “goodbye”.

Men’s 49er

Two races today

New Zealand’s Logan Dunning Beck & Oscar Gunn, winners in Palma at the beginning of April, reclaimed the overall lead after winning their last race in yellow fleet. They overtook the leading USA boat, Ian Barrows & Hans Henken, who showed they are not just big wind specialists with 4, 6 finishes in yellow fleet as others struggled around them. The Dutch world champions Bart Lambriex & Floris van der Werken only slipped a place to third but finished 9, 11 in blue fleet.
The other big risers were Australia’s Jim Colley & Shaun Connor (1, 2 in red fleet) and USA’s Kevin Snow & Mac Agnese who won both blue fleet’s races to move in to the top ten.

ILCA 6 and 7 - (women’s & men’s solo dinghy)

ILCA 6

Three races today

Canada’s Sarah Douglas, sixth at the Tokyo Olympics, leads after three solid races; 2, 8, 4. She leads from Switzerland’s Maud Jayet who was frustrated with her 3, 7, 11 especially after leading the first two races.
Last year’s SOF - Hyères champion, Poland’s Agata Barwinka, has been almost as consistent as Douglas and there are some big numbers behind the top three, and only Denmark’s Olympic Champion, Anne-Marie Rindom, out of the three Tokyo Olympic medallists in the fleet, is within realistic striking distance.
“My preference is sunshine and warmth - it doesn’t matter if it’s 5 or 25 knots,” Douglas said. "The last race there was a 30-degree left shift. I was leading and I didn’t go far enough left, I lost a couple but am still really happy with the day considering it was very tricky and very different conditions today, and a long day with a lot of waiting. It was kind of like a mental game.
“Sometimes, I might struggle in that lighter stuff and my speed and my starts were really clean.
The first and last race I was winning and of course it’s frustrating to lose a couple of boats but as a whole to get a 2, 4 I’m still happy. That kind of day I’ll take top tens.”

Maud Jayet: “I’m feeling good, I’ve been fast in both strong and light winds which is good news, just a few really big mistakes but it feels I’m least on the right track. It was around 4-7 knots, challenging conditions, super patchy and pretty big wind shifts. I lost both the first two races, I was leading in the first and fourth in the second, hard conditions to be leading because it was all over the place. It’s interesting to have had such extremes in the qualifying fleet and see who are the all-round sailors.”

ILCA 7

Two races today

Another strong day for Britain in the Ilca 7, who were last out of the water at 20:00 as they completed their minimum five races races to make the qualification cut. Eliott Hanson, second in Hyères last year, retained the overall lead despite 18, 8 finishes in yellow fleet. Daniel Whiteley was 2, 12 in red fleet, but Michael Beckett fared better in the light winning his first race and finishing 4th in the second in blue fleet to move into third place. He has been the most consistent sailor this week so far and has not been out of the top five.
It was a tougher day for the Australians, but Olympic champion, Matt Wearn, was 10, 4 in yellow fleet and is still very much in the hunt. Just two points separate the top five, and only 12 across the top 10.

470 (mixed double-handed dinghy)

Three races today

The 470s win the medal for the longest day on the water after starting in the morning and finishing in the evening to get their three races for the minimum five in total for qualification.
Jordi Xammar- Hernandez, Spain’s Tokyo bronze medallist in the last all-male 470 event, now partnered with Nora Brugman, kept the overall lead with 12, 3, 2 finishes in yellow fleet. Portugal’s Beatrice Gago & Rodolfo Pires thrived in the light finishing 3, 5, 1 in the blue fleet.
But others struggled and France’s Hippolyte Machetti and Aloïse Retornaz, (a bronze medallist in Tokyo in the women’s 470), who were second here last year, suffered the biggest drop from 2nd to 12th overall with 13, 14, 13 finishes.

Formula Kite  (men’s and women’s foiling kitesurfing)

Men’s 

One race today

No change at the top of the leaderboard, but the decision of the leading riders in yellow fleet not to race in the marginal conditions opened the door to others. In the absence of16-year-old Singaporean, Maximilian Maeder, who won Hyères last year, Britain’s Guy Bridge got a first race win.

Women’s

Did not race

iQFOiL (men’s & women’s)

Women’s

Did not race

Men’s

Did not race