After three days of racing in the 53rd Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - TPM we have the first qualification cut - let the gold fleets begin.
If the watchword has been consistency for the first half of the week, it will now blur with speed over the second half, as the best from the separated fleets now face off in each of the 10 Olympic classes containing 751 of the world’s best sailors from over 50 countries.
The Olympic champions and favourites across the fleets have done their job and, by and large, kept their scores low - or low enough. Although there are some big names in unfamiliar positions who have not made the cut, among them Tom Burton, the Australian gold medallist in the 2016 Rio Olympics in the Laser. It was not entirely a surprise as it was his first major event in the 49er with his crew mate Simon Hoffman.
Wednesday brought onshore easterlies and chop into the bay of Hyères rather the Mistral westerlies and flat lake foiling conditions of the first two days. But rather than building from 6 knots to 15-18 as forecast, conditions eased off, unsettling some plans.
Champions dominant in Hyères day of building pressure
The wind might have dropped on day 2 of the 53rd Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - TPM, but the pressure kept rising for the sailors either getting to know their new crews or crafts.
You can feel it in the boat parks here in Hyères, with an Olympic cycle of just three years before the Paris 2024 Olympic sailing event takes place in Marseilles, a fine morning’s sail west along the coast.
On a day that started light and built steadily from shifty 6s in the late morning to steady 17-19-knot south-westerlies by the late afternoon, the classes that set off in the morning were tested in a range of conditions.
A flying return for the Semaine Olympique Française
The 53rd Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - TPM opened in classic Côte d’Azur style on Monday with the world’s best rising to the strong winds through a field of 751 sailors from over 50 countries. It was like they had never been away.
After missing two years because of Covid, it was the most welcome and vivacious of returns for a venue and event that means so much to so many.
Racing began at 11 in glorious sunshine, under cloudless skies and with strong offshore westerly winds of 15-20 knots. A choppy sea state, more so on the more the easterly courses with less protection from the bay and Îles d’Or, as well as wind gusts between 25-30, kept everyone on their toes.
Both the world and sailing have changed since the last Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères in 2019. The 10 classes that will be contested in Marseille for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games were in Hyères - which is just 50 miles west down the coast - for the first time. And it was flight time for the five foiling classes on show.
The 53rd Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères - Toulon Provence Méditerranée, is back from April 23 to 30, 2022. Once again, the Olympic sailing elite will be in Hyères for one of the most anticipated events of the season. For the first time in France, the SOF will bring together on the Hyères field of play the 10 classes that will be present in Marseille for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games.