France topped the national medal table after foiling to three golds on the last day of the 54th Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - TPM. There were thrillers across the fleet 8-10 knots easterlies that grew and filled in as the day went on. The medals were spread through the nations with France winning three golds and Spain and Britain all winning two of the ten Olympic classes.
The battle between nations was more than matched by the intense battle within each country as the sailors aim to claim the single national place in each fleet for the Olympics Games. In the Ilca 7 that national excellence, success and rivalry was condensed onto the podium with Elliot Hanson overturning the overnight lead of compatriot and rival Michael Beckett.
Some advanced their Olympic hopes whilst others watched them start to evaporate like the nearby salt flats to the Giens peninsula.
There is now just one more SOF before the “big one” in Marseille - where the Paris 2024 Olympics sailing will be held - around 50 miles west along the coast. SOF 2024 will be the “Last Chance Regatta”.
“We have just seen an exceptional 54th edition of the Semaine Olympique Française - exceptional in more ways than one because there are less than 500 days from the Olympics,” Jean-Luc Denéchau President of the French Sailing Federation, said. “Hyères has shown again its ability to organise this high-level event. We also saw the quality of the the race committee teams, some of whom will officiate during the Olympic Games.
We’re already preparing for the 55th edition next year, which will also be exceptional because with so little time before the Games it will be the last chance race for some countries and athletes to book their tickets for Paris 2024. So, the final analysis is this has been a very positive event with a significant international entry, who have been happy to be in Hyères. The weather conditions and the level of competition has added to the magic of this week.”
49er (men’s and women’s high-performance double-handed dinghy)
1st – NED - Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz – 50 points
2nd – ITA – Jana Germani & Giorgia Bertuzzi - 102 points
3rd – BRA - Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze – 112 points
The Dutch world champions, Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz, had already guaranteed gold in the penultimate race on Friday (finishing the day an enormous 48 points ahead), and they revealed had earned with more than just sweat and skill. Their bay in the boat park was covered in blood from a serious cut Duetz had sustained in training before the event.
Alll the focus was on the medal race was for silver and bronze. Jana Germani & Giorgia Bertuzzi (ITA), comfortably held on to their overnight second (12 points ahead) to take silver, but behind them was a huge battle for bronze involving the whole medal race fleet. It says much about quality of Brazil’s double Olympic champions, Martine Grael & Kahena Kunze, that after a very difficult week they fought through to finish third in the medal race and take bronze.
Odile van Aanholt & Annette Duetz: “It was super beautiful conditions so that was very fun, were were nice and relaxed and a bit late on the water! We couldn’t execute our plan exactly but we still enjoyed the race and stayed away from most of the others - they had a super exciting fight.
“Normally you can enjoy the relief after the medal race but we didn’t have that up and down emotion today, we had that yesterday.
“It didn’t feel like pressure on us this week because we were staying quite focused on the the process. The whole event has felt like a bonus for us because Annette had an incident(cut open her heel) three days before the start of the regatta and it was bleeding a lot. There’s a lot of skin and bit extra gone. We had to go to the hospital. So, we felt very happy that she could race. It feels like the whole week was a gift.”
1st – ESP - Diego Bottin & Florian Trittel - 78 points
2nd – AUS - Jim Colley and Shaun Connor - 87 points
3rd – POL - Mikolaj Staniul & Jakub Sztorch – 90 points
Spain’s Diego Bottin & Florian Trittel had one hand on gold after finishing Friday 16 points ahead at the top and despite a mistake at the start managed to work back, keep their only rivals close and finish seventh.
The battle behind them was intense with Australia’s Jim Colley and Shaun Connor climbing into silver by finishing second in the medal race.
Overnight the five boats behind the Spanish had been separated by only six points and
Poland’s Mikolaj Staniul & Jakub Sztorch, second overnight, held onto bronze by finishing fifth.
Diego Bottin & Florian Trittel: “It’s been a really great week for us with a range of conditions and always sunny! Good to be prepping the (Olympic) Games with this win.
We knew we couldn’t afford an OCS and we didn’t want to get in any trouble with any protests but also we wanted to sail a good race and try to win it. But we made a little mistake at the start, pulled the trigger too early and that put us in a tough position. But we got back close to the guys fighting us for gold so it was a good race for us in the end.
It’s a very open fleet. This month is the first time we’re all racing with the same kit because they changed the rig of the 49er, so it equalised the feet and there are many, many good teams at top and it’s really hard to know who’s going to be on top.”
Nacra 17 (mixed double-handed hydrofoil catamaran)
1st – GBR - John Gimson & Anna Burnett – 32 points
2nd – ARG - Mateo Majdalini & Eugenia Bosco – 70 points
3rd – ITA - Gianlugi Ugolini & Maria Giubilei – 77 points
Britain’s John Gimson & Anna Burnett had already guaranteed gold on Friday (finishing the day 32 points ahead), so all the focus was on the race for silver and bronze. There was no change in the overnight positions as Argentina’s Mateo Majdalini & Eugenia Bosco held on to second place with relative comfort finishing just ahead of Italian’s Gianlugi Ugolini & Maria Giubilei in fifth.
Gimson & Burnett, Olympic silver medalists in Tokyo, who were second here last year, have had a very good April after also winning Palma and enjoyed their own medal race lap of honour finishing second.
John Gimson & Anna Burnett: “A very relaxed, enjoyable medal race. We’ve not been in this position before (guaranteed gold before the medal race). Normally we’re in quite a tight fight in a hard position. The pressure was off so it was easy for us today.
It’s been a light winds week and we had good pace. There were some things from Palma that we didn’t feel we’d done that well and we kind of rectified that this week and having Iain (Percy, Britain’s Olympic champion and America’s Cup sailor) was very helpful. He’s our coach, but he’s a very busy man so we get him in for the important ones.
The result is a with a pinch of salt because the conditions were quite one dimensional this week in terms of the wind speed. I know as soon we get above 11 knots and we’re up and foiling it’s wide open again and we won’t be the quickest boat in that so there’s still a lot of work to do.
Formula Kite (men’s and women’s foiling kitesurfing)
1st – FRA - Lauriane Nolot
2nd – USA - Daniella Moroz
3rd – FRA - Jessie Kampman
Hyères and France’s local hero and rising star, Lauriane Nolot, made it all gold for France in the kites winning the finals series after dominating the week. Nolot completed a golden april after also winning in Palma. USA’s six time and reigning world champion, Daniela Moroz, who beat Nolot into second in Hyères last year fought her way back through the semi-finals to win silver. France’s Jessie Kampman took bronze ahead of Britain’s Ellie Aldridge, who had started the day in second and went straight through to the four-rider final.
Lauriane Nolot: “This week has been complicated and long but I'm really happy with the end result. It’s a really high-level competition and I wanted to follow-up my victory in Palma. I did that. I was less stressed than in Palma for this final and the wind which kept building today gave me a little advantage given my size, which is a little heavier than my direct competitors.”
1st – FRA - Axel Mazella
2nd –SGP - Maximilian Maeder
3rd – GBR - Connor Bainbridge
France’s Axel Mazella, leader for the whole week, claimed gold ahead of the 16-year-old Singaporean, Maximilian Maeder, with Britain’s Connor Bainbridge winning bronze. It was a re-mix of the Palma podium at the beginning of April where Maeder won, Baninbridge was second and Mazella third.
Axel Mazella: “The race with Maximilian was very intense. We were a bit overpowered for the final, but I gave it my all. I was able to recover well after the last few long days and I arrived in great shape this morning. I’m very happy with this victory even if Maximilian deserved it as much as me. He is a very good opponent.”
470 (mixed double-handed dinghy)
1st – ESP - Jordi Xammar- Hernandez & Nora Brugman - 53 points
2nd – AUT - Lara Vadlau & Lukas Mähr – 61 points
3rd – GER - Malte Winkel & Anastasiya Winkel – 64 points
After dominating the week but stalling on Friday, Spain’s Jordi Xammar- Hernandez & Nora Brugman took gold by beating Austria’s Lara Vadlau & Lukas Mähr, who had started the day on equal points, but could only finish sixth in the medal race to claim silver.
The Spanish were second in the race to Germany’s Malte Winkel & Anastasiya Winkel, who took bronze, leapfrogging Portugal’s Diogo Costa & Carolina Joäo, who had started the day one point ahead but finished 5th in race.
Jordi Xammar-Hernandez & Nora Brugman: “We’re feeling really good. It’s been a really nice week, yesterday got a little complicated so it’s nice to finish strong today. It just made it a little bit more difficult so we had to me more precise today, it’s good practice. We had things as under control as you can, but anything can happen.
“On the start - 20 seconds before - we managed to get a penalty on them, and from them we tried to control them but also keep it simple because we had a good gap - not a lot but enough to control them.”
ILCA 6 and 7 - (women’s & men’s solo dinghy)
1st - GBR - Elliot Hanson - 36 points
2nd - GBR - Michael Beckett - 37 points
3rd - CYP Pavlos Kontides - 43 points
Britain’s Elliot Hanson won a thrilling medal race to take gold, one point ahead of fellow Briton Michael Beckett, the overnight leader (by five points), who watched the title slip from his grasp at the end as he slipped back to fourth in the wake of Croatia’s Tokyo Olympic silver medallist Tonči Stipanović.
2012 Olympic silver medallist Pavlos Kontides finished second in the race to take the bronze medal ahead of Australia’s Olympic champion, Matt Wearn, who could only finish sixth.
Elliot Hanson: “It’s a great feeling to win, I was second last year, it was a real tense race. I just felt comfortable in the conditions, never panicked, kept chipping away and things worked out behind me with Tonči having a good last run. Particularly after Palma, I had a difficult time so it’s great to come away with a win here.
The way the maths was working out, I just had to make sure I won the race. Pavlos was second and I needed two boats between myself and Micky (Beckett). I made life difficult for him on the second beat by giving him a bit of bad air but that’s all I could do really. And then just sail fast and free on the last run.
Pavlos got away for the best start, he got on a bit of rib wake and sort of cleared off, which made my life pretty tight. But I managed to hold, rounded the windward mark in second, had a good first run, we split at the gate and I was ahead at the first cross, that was the crucial bit. Micky was there in third and then Tonči was able to come through on the final run.”
1st – CAN - Sarah Douglas - 74 points
2nd – DEN - Anne-Marie Rindom – 75points
3rd – AUS - Casey Imeneo – 83 points
The exciting two-boat race for gold between the leader for most of the week, Canada’s Sarah Douglas, sixth at the Tokyo Olympics, and Denmark’s Olympic Champion, Anne-Marie Rindom, took place at the back of the medal race fleet. It was important marker for Douglas to lay down before the Olympics.
Rindom had started three points behind and Douglas held on to gold despite finishing last in the medal race. Rindom was unable to catch the boat in front on the last downwind after escaping from Douglas on the second upwind leg.
Australia’s Casey Imeneo held on to bronze by finishing fifth, just behind her closest pursuer Hungary’s Maria Erdi.
Sarah Douglas: “I’m very happy. It was a bit of a match race, I wanted to keep her (Rindom) close and we stayed close until that second beat. Then she got away a little bit and it was like watching my life flash before my eyes, because the race was no longer in my hands, that wasn’t the how I wanted it to go! I was worried until the very end and I couldn’t do anything, I was just watching it happen.
“But in the end I was really excited and overcome by emotion and was crying. Anne-Marie is obviously an incredible competitor and it can be intimidating to go against her in a match race medal race scenario because it’s not her first rodeo, but I’m happy it worked for me. After struggling in the first two events of the season, I’m really happy to win and it shows I’m going in the right direction.”
iQFOiL (men’s & women’s)
1st – CZE - Barbora Svikova
2nd – JPN - Rina Niijima
3rd – DEN - Laerke Buhl-Hansen
Czech Republic’s Barbora Svikova came through the semi-finals to claim gold in the winner takes all final, with Japan’s Rina Niijima fighting her way through the pack to take silver. Denmark’s Laerke Buhl-Hansen had dominated the week with 10 wins out the of the 14 races but had to settle for bronze in the three-rider final series.
Barbora Svikova: “I’m so happy, really thrilled. It’s exciting in the medal race in the iQFOiL because anything can happen, even the 10th place can win. I came through the semi-final and I was leading from the start in the final. I had a big battle with the Danish girl, who has been leading all week, on the upwind. We had a fight on the lay line, but I managed to stay ahead. I think she fell on the downwind. It’s been a great week, we’ve had a lot of different conditions and I’m really happy with how it all turned out.”
1st – FRA Fabien Pianazza
2nd – TUR - Onur Cavit Biriz
3rd – BRA - Mateus Isaac
France’s Fabien Pianazza won France’s third gold of the day to put them top of the national table, having to come all the way through the quarter-finals after finishing the ranking in fourth. Turkey’s Onur Cavit Biriz took silver ahead of Brazil’s Mateus Isaac, who had been the leader for most of the week.
Fabien Pianazza: “It was a great week with the pretty strong Mistral over the first two days. Then it was a bit complicated with some really light winds but in the end we managed 15 races which isn’t bad. Today, I managed to win all three races, the quarters, semis and final so I won the SOF title! The atmosphere on the water with the other competitors was amazing. I’m really happy to be here.”