Following a short postponement, racing got underway in Hyeres, France for day two of the ILCA European Championships in another strong Mistral breeze.
The westerly wind pushed in hard but fell off throughout the day to keep sailors on their toes on an ever-changing race course.
All four Australian ILCA 6 squad members are sitting in the top 20, with Zoe Thomson in fine form and leading the Australian pack in eighth overall. Thomson came away with a fourth and seventh in today’s racing and is chipping away in qualifying to set up well for the final series.
“The level is high, and we have big fleets, but qualifying is always a good chance to get in sync with the conditions and get some clean racing in,” said Thomson.
The Royal Freshwater Bay Yacht Club sailor is adapting to the conditions and making the most of the French cuisine. “I’m liking the conditions, though they feel a bit like a torture track at times, with a short chop and a solid 18 knots today. We’re expecting tomorrow to be windier and shiftier, so I am keen for a crepe or two tonight.”
Lead Australian ILCA 6 Coach, Carolijn Brouwer observed that today, “It was all about getting a clear lane off the start and hiking hard to stay fast.”
Brouwer knows that it’s going to be about the squad performing on every single day of racing. “The squad are having to work very hard this regatta as it has been windy since the start. The wind isn’t switching off just yet so we are really emphasising recovery as well so they can feel fresh again tomorrow.”
In the ILCA 7 competition, Ethan McAullay was the big mover in the Australian contingent today, jumping from 30th overall to 17th after a fourth and a seventh in his two races.
McAullay shared, “The conditions have been pretty good so far, medium to strong offshore breeze which suits me, but it has been quite tricky so you have to make sure you play the shifts right.”
“I’ve been just trying to get off the line in good shape to be able to sail towards the first shift and it’s been working pretty well so far.”
WAIS athlete Zac Littlewood came out with a vengeance today winning race three of the championships. Yesterday’s race winners Finn Alexander and Luke Elliott had a mixed day of results to keep them in the hunt as they move into the final qualifying day tomorrow.
National coach, Rafa Truijilo, is content with the squad’s racing so far, “I am really happy with the performance of the team, we just need to be a little more consistent.”
Starting clean seems to be the key to scoring keepers, whilst nailing the start is essential. Trujillo examined, “Even if the race committee makes the race a click bigger, it is still quite a small upwind that puts a lot of pressure on the starts.”
With the Mistral set to stay for the remainder of the regatta, the wind conditions are expected to stay strong and shifty due to the offshore direction.
Trujillo agreed that it’s going to be a tough week of racing, “We need to manage energy, as it looks like this championship will be really tough with the forecast and very demanding on their fitness.”
For full results head to the official notice board here.
Australian Sailing Team (AST), Australian Sailing Squad (ASS), Australian Sailing Futures (ASF) and other Australian (AUS) entries:
ILCA 6 (109 Boats)
8th – Zoe Thomson (ASS) – (12), 3, 4, 7 (14 points)
12th – Casey Imeneo (ASS) – 1, (19), 5. 14 (20 points)
15th – Mara Stransky (AST) – 13, 2, 9, (25) (24 points)
19th – Elyse Ainsworth (ASS) – 7, 8, 11, (16) (26 points)
58th – Paige Caldecoat (AUS) – 25, 26, 25 (36) (76pts)
ILCA 7 (169 Boats)
17th – Ethan McAullay (ASS) – 6, (15), 4, 7 (17 points)
18th – Luke Elliott (AST) – 11, 1, 6 (21) (18 points)
25th – Finn Alexander (ASS) – 13, 1, (BFD), 9 (23 points)
27th – Zac Littlewood (AST) – 14, 10, 1, (28) (25 points)
107th – Sam King (ASF) – 38, 12, 30, (38) (89 points)
Words: Lisa Darmanin