Australians finish in top 10 at Hyères

There were no medals, but plenty of learnings and promising performances with the Australia Sailing Team wrapping up the 2022 French Olympic week Hyères with two top five and two top ten placings.

Rio Olympic silver medallists and Tokyo fifth-placed Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin returned for another Olympic cycle to finish fourth in the Nacra 17.

Olympic champion Matt Wearn OAM, placed fifth in the ILCA 7, while fellow Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky impressed with a second place in the ILCA 6 Medal Race to wrap up the week in ninth.

The Formula Kite is one of the three new classes to premiere at the Paris 2024 Games with Australian Sailing Squad’s Breiana Whitehead leaving a mark with a sixth place in the women’s event.

After champagne sailing conditions at the Côte d’Azur for most of the week and a full race program completed across most classes, Saturday local time was a challenging last day with the lack of a breeze holding fleets ashore for a while before racing was completed in light conditions.

ILCA 7
The ILCA 7 (former Laser) Medal Race was up first up but had another postponement on the water after big shifts required marks to be reset.

Tokyo Olympic gold medallist, Matt Wearn, had a mathematical chance to get on to the podium after qualifying in sixth. But with just three points separating the top four boats, a third in the Medal Race was not quite enough.

“The wind shut off in the Medal Race and we had to wait around before we eventually got quite a soft race in. We had around 3 to 5 knots with a persistent right shift throughout making it quite tricky,” said Wearn, describing the conditions.

After sitting on top of the leaderboard for the qualifying series, Wearn dropped to third on the first day of the final series before qualifying for the Medal Race in sixth.

Matt Wearn pictured here with Germany’s Philip Buhl – Beau Outteridge pic

“The last bit was a bit disappointing. Finishing the qualifying series in first or second place overall and then basically falling down to fifth is obviously not great. At the end of the day, I can’t be too upset with a fifth. I had two pretty solid results with a second in Palma and a fifth here, so we are not too far away from where we want to be.

“There is still a lot to work on, but I think we are walking away from this little stint with our heads held high and hopefully come back later in the year and get in a couple more events.”

Wearn and the Australian ILCA 7 squad will be heading to the ILCA 7 World Championships in Mexico next (21-28 May) but will return to Europe for more racing after that.”

ILCA 6
Two years out from the Paris 2024 Games, Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky showed that she will be a force to be reckoned with after wrapping up the French Olympic week with a second place in the Medal Race of the ILCA 6 (former Laser Radial).

After a regatta of ups and downs the Queenslander went into the final day in ninth place and made the most of another racing opportunity, but without much room to move on the points ladder.

“I had a slight chance of moving up, but otherwise I couldn’t do too much, so my aim was just to have the best race I could. I’m very happy with the results. Second place in the race was a nice way to finish off a really challenging week,” Stransky said after racing in 2-3 knots of wind.

Mara Stransky was happy with second in the Medal Race – Beau Outteridge pic

“It’s just been a super high scoring event. I’ve been up and down. It’s been quite challenging to maintain a productive outlook on sailing when you are just all over the shop, so it was just about keeping a level head.”

Nacra 17
Nacra 17 sailors Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin did not have the best start to their Paris 2024 campaign after missing out of most of the racing at Palma due to Covid. However, they made the most of their opportunities at Hyères to finish fourth overall.

The Nacra 17 is featuring some upgrades to its rudder system, which made it a challenging week physically and mentally.

Darmanin explained: “Jason and I only started training back in February, so it was really good to come away with a top five. There’s lots to learn. It was a bit of an up and down week, a big physical week, but also mentally learning so much every day. We’re really excited to come back for Kiel Week and then the Europeans will be a really good test for us too.”

The cousins qualified for the Medal Race in fifth but were out of medal contention with a 29-points gap to third place. With fifth or fourth place still at stake though, they used the race to test their tactical skills and delivered.

“It was really light, no foiling in 3 to 4 knots. We really couldn’t move much and it was just a battle between fourth and fifth which happened to be our good friends the Kiwis, so we planned a match race and had a bit of fun out there. Top five was our goal and it was a good end to the week with fourth,” Waterhouse said.

Hyères has been featuring all 10 Paris 2024 Olympic classes this week with the Formula Kite to premier on the Olympic program in two years’ time. Australian Sailing Squad’s Breiana Whitehead is moving ahead in leaps and bounds.

After qualifying for the top-14 final in overall 10th, she wrapped up the event in an impressive sixth place.

Breiana Whitehead is making the best of international competition – Sailing Energy pic

“The finals were high pressure racing. A lot can be gained and lost in those races and I’m really happy to have managed a good performance to move up a few places from qualifying,” Whitehead said.

It was only the second regatta on the Olympic circuit for the 21-year-old which has seen her progressively improving.

“Palma and Hyères were the kick-off to our shortened Paris 2024 campaign and while we have identified several things we need to continue working on, we are leaving Hyères with good momentum and motivation,” High Performance Director Iain Brambell OLY said.

Both events were a great team effort on all levels including athletes, coaches and support staff and we are looking forward to the next few months and exposing the team to more high-calibre international racing to keep strengthening and fine-tuning our skills as we continue our preparations for Paris.

“Racing internationally, especially in the big fleets, is an essential learning experience for all of our athletes. We came here to fine tune quite a few things, including the starts and they were getting better throughout the week.

“We will take every opportunity to get competition in both formal and coach regattas to ensure that we do everything possible to improve the squads staying on in Europe to help them continuously grow,” Brambell ended.

With several athletes missing racing at the first event in Palma, Spain due to Covid and other challenges, the full team was back in action for Hyères, a fact Brambell credits the whole team for as well as the work done on and off the water in the lead-up.

“As we came back into Europe, it wasn’t just about the Covid challenges, we had been out of the Northern Hemisphere for two years and bugs as well as logistics were a complication on this trip,” Brambell said.

“Covid was an extra layer of challenge and the way we got through all that was because of really thorough support staff work as well as leadership from the coaches and the compliance from the athletes.

“It was a positive test to our team culture and I’m pleased to report that the values we have set as a team were matched by the appropriate behaviours, a sign we are moving in a very positive collective performance direction,” Brambell concluded.

Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) and Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) results and overall placings. All Medal Race results in brackets:

Formula Kite Women – 20 races (three drops)
10th – Breiana Whitehead (ASS) 20, 7, 12, 5, 21, (22), 8, 15, 16, 15, 16, 5, 17, 12, 4, 6, (23), 8, 4, (25) = 191 points

ILCA 7 Medal Race
Gold – Pavlos Kontides (CYP) (4) – 42 points
Silver – Elliott Hanson (GBR) (2) – 43
Bronze – Michael Beckett (GBR) (10) – 50
5th – Matt Wearn (AST) (6) – 60

ILCA 7 – Gold fleet – 10 races (one drop)
12th – Finn Alexander (ASS) 3, 10, 5, 4, 3, 14 | 12, 7, 24, (35) = 81
21st – Luke Elliott (AST) 9, 7, 4, 14, 9, 17 | 13, 10, (31), 27 = 110
25th – Ethan McAullay (ASS) 4, 24, 20, 15, 7, 1 | (35), 26, 15, 25 = 137
34th – Zac Littlewood (AST) 1, 13, 22, 6, 7, 9 | 27, 35, UFD (44), 37 = 157

ILCA 7 – Silver fleet – 9 races (one drop)
48th – Samuel King (ASF) 25, 11, (30), 27, 17, 12 | 4, 15, 12 = 123 points
80th – Stefan Elliott-Shircore (ASF) 32, 30, 19, 27, 22, 19 | (41), 23, 26 = 198
83rd – Michael Compton (ASF) 27, 30, 36, (37), 14, 17 | 23, 29, 33 = 209

ILCA 6 Medal Race
Gold – Agata Parwinska (POL) (12) – 86 points
Silver – Marie Barrue (FRA) (16) – 111
Bronze – Louise Cervera (FRA) (2) – 113
9th Mara Stransky (ASS) (4) – 159

ILCA 6 – 10 races (one drop)
18th – Zoe Thomson (ASS) 13, 16, (BFD), 9, 10, 13, 33, 42, 6, 45 = 186
21st – Casey Imeneo (ASS) 39, 26, 35, 3, 1, 15, 39, 4, 36, (40) = 196
28th – Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) 31, 39, 21, 20, (51), 20, 25, 7, 34, 24 = 220
51st – Paige Caldecoat (ASF) 53, 54, 38, 34, 48, 18, 43, (BFD), 40, 56 = 383

Nacra 17 Medal Race
Gold – Ruggero Tita & Caterina Banti (ITA) – 36 points
Silver – John Gimson & Anna Burnet (GBR) – 54 points
Bronze – Sinem Kurtey & Akseli Keskinen (FIN) – 72 points
4th – Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AST) 4, 9, 5, 2, 7, 7, 6, 4, 8, 5, (21), 8, 14, 2, 6 = 87 points

Nacra 17 fleet -15 races (one drop)
15th – Jake Liddell and Lucy Copeland (ASS) 11, 20, 14, 14, 13, 21, 11, 14, 18, 15, (24), 16, 11, 13, 11 = 202

470 Mixed Gold fleet – 9 races (one drop)
12th – Chris Charlwood and Amelia Catt (ASS) 2, 6, 11, 5, 9, 10 | (18), 8, 9 = 60 points
18th – Nia Jerwood and Conor Nicholas (ASS) 10, 11, 7, 9, 13, 5 | (19), 10, 25 = 84

470 Mixed Silver fleet – 9 races (one drop)
43rd – Sophie Jackson and Angus Higgins (ASF) (24), 21, 20, 19, 23, 24 | 13, 5, 19 = 144

49er Gold fleet – 15 races (one drop)
18th – Tom Needham and Joel Turner (ASS) 7, 14, 8, 10, 13, 9, 10, 13, 17 | 12, 21, 19, (23), 14, 10 = 177 points
23rd – Jim Colley and Shaun O’Connor (ASS) 9, 18, 8, 13, 17, 18, 14, 7, 13 | 21, 12, (26), 15, 20, 23 = 208
25th – Jack Ferguson and Max Paul (ASS) 10, 19, 13, (30), 3, 14, 3, 23, 25 | 20, 23, 5, 17, 12, 24 = 211

49er Silver fleet – 12 races (one drop)
40th – Tom Burton and Simon Hoffmann (ASS) 16, 9, 22, 20, 2, 16, 21, 26, UFD (32) | 16, 9, 14 = 171 points
48th – Otto Henry and Miles Davey (ASF) RET (32), DNS 32, DNF 32, BFD 32, 12, 21, 26, 18, 16 | 7, 6, 15 = 217
51st – Ryan Littlechild (ASF) and Jack Hildebrand (ASF) DNF (32), 26, 25, 28, 20, 27, 27, 28, 24 | 4, 17, 7 = 233
49erFX Gold fleet – 15 races (one drop)
17th – Laura Harding and Annie Wilmot (ASS) 4, 6, 3, 12, 14, 7, 6, 7, DSQ (20) | 9, 5, 18, 18, 6, 19 = 134 points

49erFX Silver fleet – 11 races (one drop)
25th – Olivia Price and Evie Haseldine (ASS) 13, 2, 11, 14, 5, DNF (20), UFD (20), 13, 9 | 5, 7 = 99 points
Formula Kite Male Silver fleet – 19 races (three drops)
38th – Zac Pullen (ASF) 12, (DNF), 15, (16), 10, 15, 13, 10, 8, 15, 8, 10 | 10, 13, (16), 14, 9, 11, 9 = 182 points

Formula Kite Male Bronze fleet – 19 races (three drops)
47th – Alex Landwehr (ASF) 15, 16, 16, (17), 14, 9, 12, 12, DNF, 15, DNF, 13 | 1, 1, 1, 3, 8, 2, 3 = 141 points

iQFOiL – 16 races (three drops)
19th – Will McMillan (ASF) 5, 9, 14, 3, 11, 17, 2, 21, 9, 33, 9, BFD (39), (35), (44), 33, 35 = 200 points
30th – Grae Morris (ASS) 25, 11, 15, 15, 12, DNC (57), DNC (57), DNC (57), DNC 57, DNC 57, 23, 17, 13, 25, 23, 13 = 306
36th – Harry Joyner (ASF) (41), 31, 34, 29, 40, 29, 39, (45), (41), 12, 19, 19, 33, 21, 21, 15 = 341
40th – Caelin Winchcombe (ASS) 39, (43), 43, (47), 36, 38, 34, 42, 34, (47), 21, 27, 21, 26, 21, 19 = 401

iQFOiL – 15 races (three drops)
19th – Natasha Bryant (ASF) 17, 19, 15, (29), 21, (24), 16, 19, 18, 20, (27), 13, 14, 13, 15 = 200 points
25th – Samantha Costin (ASF) 21, 21, 18, (26), 20, 23, (26), 22, 24, 22, 23, 23, 26, 21, DNF (33) = 217

Cora Zillich/Australian Sailing

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