Monday, April 27, 2009

Day 5 - Hyeres 2009

The forecast for the last couple days of racing had been changing all week, and nobody was sure what exactly would happen with the wind. In the morning, the wind was offshore, strong enough to sail. The committee sent all fleets out, and ran a sequence for the gold fleet. After their start, the wind went south in a more typical “sea breeze” direction, making the committee reset the course. After more than an hour’s delay, the women’s fleet started. We had two races in pumping conditions once again, which were exhausting. The men’s fleet went in after their two races, and a third race began for us.

During the racing the wind was up and down. A few downwind legs, girls were planing, but overall the wind was still about 5-7 knots. The wind began to go right, back to the offshore condition, during the last race. In classic style, as soon as the final race concluded, the wind came in, bringing planing conditions and lots of hot air from the land.

The next day the long-awaited breeze finally came, just in time for the medal races. The wind was about 20-25 knots out of the south for the boards. We observed from the coach boat as the races were run. The chop was so big that the big committee boat lost control while it was anchoring, and everyone on board was working really hard to get the anchor in and set again. It took a few tries to set the course.

In the men’s medal race, Julien Bontemps (FRA) set an early lead and maintained it to win the race, but lose the regatta by one point to finish second overall. Shahar Zubari of Israel, not as strong of a sailor in heavy wind, finished seventh in the medal race but had built enough of a lead to win the regatta. In third, with a very consistent overall performance, was Nick Dempsey (GBR), following the leaders by a 13 point gap. Ricardo Santos (BRA) and Piotr Myszka (POL) finished a strong second and third in the windy medal race.

During the women’s race, the Spanish sailors had a hard fight. Close in points during the regatta, Blanca Manchon won the medal race to take a place on the podium, beating 2008 Olympic 4th place finisher Marina Alabau by a single point. The Chinese sailor, Peina Chen, built enough of a lead to maintain her first-place position although finishing 6th in the medal race. In second, with a second place finish in the medal race and an overall very consistent performance in tough conditions, was Bryony Shaw (GBR).

Overall, my finish was disappointing but I accomplished some goals for the season quickly. With the help of our coach, and some agreeable conditions, I cleaned up my light wind technique a great deal and am pleased with the result.

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