24 April 2018
The event is Round 3 of the 2018 series, which started at Gamagori, Japan, last October. Round 2 was in Miami in the US in January. Hyeres marks the last opportunity for qualification to the World Cup Series Final, to be staged in Marseilles, which will play host to the sailing competition for the 2024 Paris Olympic Games. Hyeres will provide the world’s top sailors with a useful barometer of their standing in the lead-up to the biggest sailing event this year, the World Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, in August.
The Australian Sailing Team will be in full flight this week, including winners at Miami, Olympic Laser champion Tom Burton and Nacra 17 Olympic silver medallists Jason Waterhouse and Lisa Darmanin.
Laser sailor Matt Wearn will be looking to back up his gold medal at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Palma, Spain, earlier this month, as will 470 Olympic silver medallists Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, who also claimed the coveted Princesa Sofia Trophy for best overall performance at the regatta.
Australia’s Finn class sailors will hope for improvement on Palma, where Oli Tweddell (12th) was the best-placed Team member. National champion Jake Lilley, who was 19th at Palma, won at Hyeres in 2016.
49er National champions David Gilmour and Joel Turner are keen to improve on their 16th placing at Palma, while young 49erFX pair Natasha Bryant and Annie Wilmot will look for another encouraging result after coming 17th at Palma and 12th in Miami.
Meanwhile, New Zealand 49er pair Josh Porebski and Trent Rippey are eyeing up another top finish in Hyeres.
The pair struggled to put complete regattas together in the 49er fleet last year but look to have turned things around in the last five months. It started with silver at December’s Sail Sydney, continued with gold at February’s Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta and earlier this month they backed it up with fourth at the Princess Sofia regatta in Palma in a fleet of 90 boats.
Porebski and Rippey, who have been sailing together in the 49er for a couple of years, will be looking to continue their run at the World Cup regatta in Hyeres which starts on Tuesday night (NZ time).
“Things feel like they are clicking now,” Porebski said.
“We are working well together and have been doing a lot of sailing, a lot of racing. We have been working really well and sorting out some of the things we didn’t do very well last year.
“I think a lot of it has to do with confidence. We have had another year together in the boat and every regatta you get a bit more confident and figure out things that have been wrong in the past.
“We always wanted to be in the top five or challenging for the podium at the end of the week. That was our goal from the first regatta we did together, but we are getting closer now. I don’t think expectations change, but the results have been changing, which is good.”
They’re not the only New Zealand crew looking to finish on the podium this week.
A total of 21 Kiwi sailors in 14 boats are competing, including the trio who won medals in Palma: Sam Meech (silver Laser), Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (silver 49erFX) and Andy Maloney (bronze Finn).
The world championships is the main focus of the year for Porebski and Rippey, along with the rest of the New Zealand sailors, and the event also doubles as the first opportunity to qualify boats for the 2020 Tokyo Olympics.
Only one crew can go to Tokyo and the 49er is a congested scene with Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn and Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie also tracking well. There’s also a couple of handy sailors by the names of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the background who could decide they want to defend their Olympic title.