Australians qualify for Medal Races in Hyères

Australian Sailing Team (AST) and Australian Sailing Squad (ASS) athletes have secured four spots in the French Olympic Week Hyères medal races after qualifying in the ILCA 7, ILCA 6 and Nacra 17 as well as in the Formular Kite Women events. Medal races are scheduled to take place on Saturday local time from 11am.

Tokyo Olympians Matt Wearn (WA) OAM and Mara Stransky (QLD), as well as Jason Waterhouse (NSW) and Lisa Darmanin (NSW) made the final top ten cut in the ILCA 7, ILCA 6, and Nacra 17 respectively, while Breiana Whitehead (QLD) qualified for the top-14 Formular Kite Women Medal Series with the class to premier on the Paris 2024 program.

On a tumultuous day in light winds on Friday, Olympic champion Matt Wearn dropped from third into sixth place in the ILCA 7 (former Laser), after scoring 14th and 15th places.

With just three points separating the four boats at the top of the leader board and Wearn 16 points behind the leader, Philipp Buhl from Germany, it will all come down to the wire in Saturday’s double points Medal Race.

Wearn was the only Australian to make the final cut on the penultimate day of racing, after Finn Alexander (NSW) just missed out, ending the round in 12th place. Luke Elliott (WA) wrapped up the regatta in 21st with Ethan McAullay (WA) following in 25th. A UFD in the first race of the day meant Zac Littlewood dropped to 34th.

The ILCA 7 World Championship in Mexico is the next event up for the squad (21-28 May) and while many struggled for consistency on the last day of the final series, they will take confidence from the Gold fleet racing and several top ten results throughout the week.

In the ILCA 6 (former Laser Radial), Tokyo Olympian Mara Stransky was the surprise of the day when she qualified for the Medal Race in ninth place.

The 23-year-old had an average first couple of days of the regatta, but scored a second place on day three. A 16th and an eighth on Friday and some high scores in the fleet saw her jump up the ranks from 17th to ninth.

“I felt quite confident in the conditions and my aim was to have the best day I could and see what happens,” Stransky said.

Mara Stransky has moved up to ninth overall – Sailing Energy pic

“It’s been a high scoring regatta and people have been up and down all over the place, but you can’t control what other people do. My plan was to just put it together. It didn’t go quite as I had hoped, but I’m pretty happy that it was just enough to scrape me through.”

“I’ve done one regatta here before and I slid out of the medal race on the last day of finals and missed it by one point. I took that pretty hard, so it’s quite satisfying to finally finish that off,” Stransky added.

The day did not go as well for the rest of the Australian ILCA 6 squad with Zoe Thomson (WA) finishing the regatta in 18th after a sixth and 45th on Friday. Casey Imeneo (VIC) finished the week in 21st while Elyse Ainsworth (WA) placed 28th.

Rio silver medallists and Tokyo fifth placed Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin added another medal race spot in the Nacra 17 to the Australian tally, qualifying in fifth place.

Hyères is the first regatta back in the Nacra 17 since the Tokyo Olympic Games for the cousins, who finished off the qualifying series scoring a 14th, second and sixth place. But with a 29-point gap to third place, they will be out of medal contention in Saturday’s Medal Race.

The French regatta has been featuring all 10 Paris 2024 Olympic classes this week with the Formula Kite to premier on the Olympic program in two-year’s time. Australian Sailing Squad’s Breiana Whitehead has been looking strong in her second event on the Olympic circuit, finishing the qualifying series 10th overall.

Breiana Whitehead in good form – Beau Outteridge pic

“It was pretty light today, but we still managed to get all four races in. I had a few top places and made a few mistakes, but I had a lot of fun and learnt a lot and looking forward to racing tomorrow,” Whitehead said after a mixed day scoring a 23, 8, 4, 25 series.

“I’m really excited to make it to the final series. To go from Palma to here and get some really good scores on the board is exciting. I’m looking forward to seeing where I’m going to fit.”

For this Olympiad, some classes are entirely new to the Olympics, some have changed their equipment and some, like the 470s, have changed their crew with the class becoming a Mixed class for the Paris 2024 Olympics.

Racing has been super close and exciting to watch with Australia’s two crews, coached by dual Olympic champion Malcolm Page, OAM, right in the thick of it. Both made the Gold fleet on Wednesday, but despite some strong racing, it was not enough to make the final cut with only one race possible on Friday, as the wind dropped off.

Chris Charlwood (WA) and Amelia Catt (TAS) finished top ranked Australian boat in 12th after scoring another top ten finish and ninth place with only two points separating the pair from the Medal Race. Nia Jerwood (WA) and Conor Nicholas (WA) scored a 25th to finish the regatta in 18th overall.

New to the Olympic program are also the iQFOiL Women’s and Men’s events. The Australian Sailing Squad’s Grae Morris (NSW) made the most of his international debut on the Olympic circuit at Palma earlier this month to gain experience against the strong Europeans in the class.

“I came here to learn for the next regattas and I’ve certainly learnt a lot,” Morris said. This after finishing 30th after two slalom races on Friday and despite breaking his foil box on day two and missing five races because of it.

“I had a gear failure on day two which made me pick up quite a few points and that put me back from my good scoring on day one,” Morris explained.

“I’ve been in Australia for two years now, training on the kit. It was just all about speed and hoping that when I come over here, I’m not completely behind,” Morris said.

“Coming over here was all about getting experience and knowledge within the fleet and honestly, it’s been amazing to get back out here with all the top dogs and seeing where we are and just knowing that all the training in Australia really paid off.

“We’re quite confident about what to do when we get back home, so it’s all positive from now. I’m fired up and ready for the Euros,” the 19-year-old said confidently.

Fellow Australian Sailing Squad athlete Caelin Winchcombe (WA) finished 40th while Australian Sailing Future’s Will McMillan (NSW) finished 19th. The team will be heading to the iQFOiL European Championships at Lake Garda in Italy from 15-22 May.

In other results, the 49er wrapped up the regatta with three boats in the Gold fleet. Tom Needham (QLD) and Joel Turner (QLD) were the top ranked boat in 18th. Jim Colley (NSW) and Shaun O’Connor (NSW) finished the week in 23rd, while Jack Ferguson (NSW) and Max Paul (NSW) followed in 25th.

Laura Harding (VIC) and Annie Wilmot (NSW) finished 17th in the 49erFX.

The 2022 French Olympic Week Hyères was only the second international regatta back for the Australian Sailing Team and Australian Sailing Squad after two years away from the international circuit.

While four Medal Races are an upward trend from two at the first event at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma, Technical Director Michael Blackburn also noted several areas to work on.

“We are encouraged that we have four boats in Medal Races rather than the two we had in Palma. It’s two years out from Paris, but it’s also been two years that our guys had off competing at this level of competition, which has had an impact on the experience, especially as far as their starting skills are concerned,” Blackburn said.

“That’s a key area the guys are learning a lot about and I think there are some more opportunities to be gained out of that, as well as out of maximising our time in Europe. It is clear that we have to be in Europe with most of the classes.

“In the new Olympic classes, we have some encouraging signs. In Brei and Grae we have some young guys who have some great skills. We’ve been running development programs for a few years, but it also takes a long time to develop really good athletes and we still have some catching up to do in the kites and the boards.”

Apart from the athletes, Blackburn also praised the work of the new coaching team.

“The guys have obviously been very excited to get over here and start racing, but we also put a lot of work into getting a really good coaching team together. We’ve done some work on how we all integrate and work together and that is all starting to pay off,” Blackburn said.

“There’s a bit more across-class pollination of ideas and I think that will be really beneficial,” Blackburn added.

The 53rd French Olympic Week Hyeres will wrap up on Saturday local time with the Medal Races and Medal Series racing scheduled to start at 11am.

Australian results and overall placings:
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 – 8 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 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

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

ILCA 7 – Gold Fleet – 10 races (one drop)
6th – Matt Wearn (AST) (2), 1, 1, 1, 1, (UFD, 44) | 15, 4, 14, 15 = 54 points
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 – 10 races (one drop)
9th – Mara Stransky (AST) 20, 28, 12, 13, 27, 2, (45), 29, 16, 8 = 155 points
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

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

Nacra 17 , 15 races (one drop)
5th – Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin (AST) 4, 9, 5, 2, 7, 7, 6, 4, 8, 5, (21), 8, 14, 2, 6 = 87 points
15th – Jake Liddell and Lucy Copeland (ASS) 11, 20, 14, 14, 13, 21, 11, 14, 18, 15, (24), 16, 11, 13, 11 = 202

Full results: https://sof.ffvoile.fr/results/

Live race status can be followed here: https://dashboard-sof.sailti.com/en/default/races/race-directcomplet

Cora Zillich/Australian Sailing

Barton Skydock
Yacht Share Mariner
Nav at Home
Lagoon 51
Barton Skydock
Yacht Share Mariner
Coral Sea Marina Resort
West Systems 2