The third and final Round of Sailing’s World Cup Series will touch down in Hyères, France next week, offering sailors’ the final opportunity to qualify for the World Cup Final.
From 22-29 April, more than 650 competitors from 46 nations will race in the ten Olympic disciplines and the 2.4 Norlin OD, a Para World Sailing class.
Winners in each of the Olympic classes will automatically qualify for the final with the remaining sailors aiming to amass maximum points to qualify for the Final which will be held 90km away in Marseille, home of the Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Competition.
Great Britain’s Giles Scott will head to Hyères fresh from gold medal performances at the World Cup Series event in Miami, USA and Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma, Spain. The British Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist will spearhead the 40-boat Finn fleet and will be a clear favourite for gold.
Scott has dominated the Finn in recent years but has only won in Hyères once out of five outings on the waters. His sole victory came in 2015.
Joining Scott in the fleet will be 2016 winner Jake Lilley (AUS) and 2017 gold medallist Alican Kaynar of Turkey. Further strength in the fleet comes from the 2017 Finn Gold Cup podium. Champion Max Salminen (SWE), silver medallist Jonathan Lobert (FRA) and bronze medallist Nicolas Heinder (NED) will all race in France.
The 49er and 49erFX will feature in-form sailors with the leading lights in Men’s and Women’s Skiff sailing making up their respective 40-boat fleets.
Dylan Fletcher-Scott and Stu Bithell (GBR) have set the bar in the 49er after Rio 2016. The British racers won the 2017 World and European Championships and have finished on the podium at every event they’ve sailed at together since joining forces after Rio.
At recent World Cup events, the British team have fought for the honours against Spain’s Diego Botin and Iago Lopez Marra.
After a strong opening series at the 2017 World Cup in Hyères, the Brits faded towards the latter part of the week allowing the Spanish team to claim the honours. At the 2018 World Cup Series USA, the tables turned as the Brits won by a single point.
Rivalries will be renewed once again in the south of France.
Further contenders in the 49er include a strong Australian quartet, Croatia’s ever improving Sime and Mihovil Fantela (CRO), Federico and Arturo Alonso (ESP) and four French favourites.
Since Rio 2016, numerous names have topped the World Cup Series podium in the 49erFX. Most recently, Argentina’s Victoria Travascio and Sol Branz won gold in Japan and Germany’s Victoria Jurczok and Anika Lorenz claimed top spot in Miami.
Both crews will be in Hyères and will be joined by Annemiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED) who convincingly won the 49erFX title at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia. There is further strength and depth in the 49erFX fleet with Rio 2016 silver medallists Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (NZL) continuing their comeback.
Much like the 49erFX, titles in the Women’s 470 at recent events have been evenly distributed and there are plenty of contenders ready for Hyères action.
Poland’s Agnieszka Skrzypulec and Mrózek Gliszczynska won in Japan, Slovenia’s Tina Mrak and Veronika Macarol were successful in the USA and Ai Kondo and Miho Yoshioka (JPN) recently won at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia.
The trio will be part of the 38-boat fleet but further sailors such as Rio 2016 Olympic gold medallist Hannah Mills sailing with Eilidh McIntyre (GBR), the experienced Fernanda Oliveira and Ana Barbachan (BRA), World #1 Afrodite Zegers and Anneloes Van Veen and Switzerland’s Linda Fahrni and Maja Siegenthaler all have the attributes to garner success.
French favourite Camille Lecointre, Rio 2016 bronze medallist with Helene Defrance, makes her third appearance in the Women’s 470 since Rio 2016 with Aloise Retornaz. The pair recently finished fourth at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia and Lecointre knows what it takes to perform in Hyères after five podium finishes at the venue since 2005.
In the 40-boat Men’s 470 fleet, World #1 Australian pairing Mat Belcher and Will Ryan will be aiming for their fourth title in Hyères and they will be firm favourites after winning in Japan last year and most recently at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia.
Greece’s Panagiotis Mantis and Pavlos Kagialis, 2016 bronze medallists, will also be in the hunt, as will Miami victors Luke Patience and Chris Grube (GBR).
In the 2.4 Norlin OD, seven-time Hyères victor, Damien Seguin (FRA), will lead the charge in the fleet as he aims for another title. He will be joined by Italian Paralympian Antonio Squizzato and Paralympic medallist Bruno Jourdren (FRA).
Racing at the third round of Sailing’s World Cup Series in Hyères, France commences at 11:00 local time on Tuesday 24 April.
The 2.4 Norlin OD, 49er, 49erFX, Nacra 17 and RS:X fleets will conclude racing on Saturday 28 with their Medal Races with the Men’s and Women’s 470, Laser, Laser Radial and Finn sailors’ bringing the regatta to a close on Sunday 29.
All Medal Races will be available to watch across the World Sailing Network from 12:00 local time – www.youtube.com/worldsailingtv
by Daniel Smith