It was another day of light breeze in Hyères with 5-7 knots really testing the sailors' patience and nerves but a full schedule of Medal Races were completed.
Watch the Medal Races back here – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PL0yLg4wYxxpfe3oPrA-zWhUnK0nflh1dm.
French sailors occupied every podium spot in the Men's RS:X as they confirmed their dominance on their home waters.
Pierre Le Coq, Rio 2016 bronze medallist, claimed gold after an eighth place in the Medal Race and was delighted after racing, “It's a great feeling,” expressed Le Coq. “I've won here before in 2015 and it's a great feeling. It's amazing seeing all French on the podium in our home nation.”
Le Coq had compatriot Louis Giard hot on his heels as the two fought for the gold medal. Giard finished fourth, ahead of Le Coq in the Medal Race but it wasn't enough to clinch gold as he finished four points shot.
“I knew I had to keep an eye out on Louis and it was a big fight between us,” commented Le Coq, “but I also knew that he had to put a lot of people between him and me. I managed to control him, so it was a successful race.”
Thomas Goyard won the Medal Race which allowed him to leapfrog China's Mengfan Gao into the final podium place to complete a successful week for the French Men's RS:X team.
In the Women's RS:X, Zofia Klepacka (POL) sealed her third consecutive victory at the Hyères World Cup venue. “I enjoy sailing in France,” said Klepacka. “I finished seventh today and I could've done a whole lot better, but it was enough to give me a gold medal.”
Peina Chen (CHN) put the pressure on Klepacka, finishing second but it was not quite enough to remove the Polish racer but was plenty for silver. A Medal Race win gave Poland's Malgorzata Bialecka bronze.
Damien Seguin (FRA) sealed his tenth 2.4 Norlin OD title in Hyères with his eighth race win of the week in the first ever Medal Race for the Para World Sailing boat.
After Seguin's nearest rival Antonio Squizzato (ITA) slipped up at the start, Seguin was never going to surrender gold in the Medal Race. “There was an issue with Antonio,” explained Seguin. “At the start line he was on the course side and he lost the podium spot and finished fourth. He's a great sailor and he'll do better next time.
“I improved a lot this winter and it's helped me sail in the conditions we've had. I'm extremely happy that I've won eight races.”
Bruno Jourdren (FRA) and Rafa Andarias (ESP) completed the podium.
Four out of ten boats in the 49er were on the course side at the start of the Medal Race including David Gilmour and Joel Turner (AUS) and Yannick Lefèbvre and Tom Pelsmaekers (BEL). The pair had occupied second and third heading into the Medal Race and were in the hunt for gold but their OCS saw their World Cup Series medal dreams in tatters.
This effectively handed the gold to Poland's Dominik Buksak and Szymon Wierzbicki who stayed out of any trouble to claim their first World Cup medal of any colour.
“We didn't expect to win any medal, never mind gold medal so we are so pleased with our performance this week,” said Buksak.
“We knew that the start would be a key factor, and everyone will be pushing so we decided to hold back a bit just to avoid going over the line. It's better to give yourself a chance in the rest of the race. Luckily, we did that because four boats were over the line.”
The fight for the silver and bronze medal was between two teams from New Zealand. Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn (NZL) and Josh Porebski and Trent Rippey (NZL) fought hard at the front of the fleet.
Dunning Beck and Gunn took the race win to seal silver with their teammates narrowly finishing behind them to pick up bronze.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) won the 49erFX Medal Race which handed them gold after the overnight leaders Ida Marie Nielsen and Marie Olsen (DEN) had an up and down race. The Danes dropped down to the back of the pack early on in the race but took some risks to move back up the fleet. However it did not quite pay off as they finished fourth and made to settle for silver.
“The points were really close and we had an opportunity to get gold or we could have flipped back to fifth,” explained Maloney. “There was heaps to play for but our main aim was to go out and win the race and whatever happened in the pack behind us would play out how it was going to. We had to put two boats between us and the Danes, we did that and we managed to win gold.”
Victoria Travascio and Maria Branz (ARG) finished third in the Medal Race to grab a surprise bronze after the Norwegians and British, who were third and fourth ahead of the day, finished down the pack. Australia's Youth World Champions Tash Bryant and Annie Wilmot finished 10th in their first World Cup.
Ruggero Tita and Caterina Banti (ITA) sealed gold ahead of the Nacra 17 Medal Race so the pressure was off the leaders who finished the race in last place. Ben Saxton and Nicola Boniface (GBR) had all but guaranteed themselves a medal and managed to make it silver with a sixth place.
Iker Martinez and Olga Masilvets (ESP) managed to win the Nacra 17 Medal Race which allowed them to remove Vittorio Bissaro and Maelle Frascari (ITA) from the final podium place after they finished eighth.
Sweden's Anton Dahlberg and Fredrik Bergström sealed gold with a day to go in the Men's 470 after another two excellent results. A fourth and a second compared to the second placed Australians, Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, 15th and first gives them an unassailable 27-point lead.
Three teams including the Australians, Paul Snow Hansen and Dan Wilcox (NZL) and Tetsuya Isozaki and Akira Takayanagi (JPN), will be in contention for the remaining podium positions.
In the Women's 470, things are a bit tighter. Camille Lecointre and Aloise Retornaz (FRA) retained their overnight lead following a pair of fifths. Hannah Mills and Eilidh McIntyre (FRA) are nine points off in second. Ai Kondi and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) go into the Medal Race in the final podium position but have five teams who could mathematically overhaul them.
A tenth and a sixth for Marit Bouwmeester (NED) was enough for her to win gold ahead of the Medal Race in the Laser Radial.
Bouwmeester goes into the Medal Race a mammoth 58 points clear of Monika Mikkola (FIN). Paige Railey (USA) moved back into medal contention with a bullet from the day's first race. Railey is nine points behind Mikkola and 15 clear of the fourth placed Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN).
A second and a tenth from two Laser races gives Jean Baptiste Bernaz (FRA) a 13 point advantage over Sam Meech (NZL) heading into the Medal Race. Tom Burton (AUS) is 28-points behind Bernaz in third place so a gold medal is out of the equation however he has confirmed himself at least a bronze as he is 21 points clear of the chasing pack.
No racing was possible in the Finn fleet so the scores from the day prior remain. Nicholas Heiner (NED) is first overall on 32 points, Jorge Zarif (BRA) follows on 36 with Alican Kaynar (TUR) in third on 38. Ondrej Teply is ten points off Kaynar in fourth with Jake Lilley (AUS) in fifth.
Medal Races commence at 11:00 on Sunday 29 April.
By Daniel Smith – World Sailing