Friday, 18 April 2014

Hyeres Sailing World Cup : Return of Olympic Champions to Australian Sailing Team

Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen training at Lake Macquarie ahead of Hyères. Supplied image

by Cora Zillich

Following the recent gold and two bronze medals at the ISAF Sailing World Cup Palma, the Australian Sailing Team are now a few days away from the start of racing at the next ISAF World Cup Regatta in Hyères, France.
Over 1,100 athletes have registered to sail in Hyères next week, including a near-full contingent of the Australian Sailing Team and Squad.
Hyères will also be the first time this year that 49er Olympic Champions Nathan Outteridge (NSW) and Iain Jensen (NSW) will return to the European racing circuit in Olympic class sailing.  The duo, who have re-signed for another America’s Cup campaign with Swedish Artemis and last won the Olympic 49er event at the Sailing World Cup in Melbourne in December, have prepared together with the Australian Sailing 49er squad on home waters at Lake Macquarie.  
Training together helped all crews to progress, as Iain Jensen believes:  “It’s been really good, we’ve more of a squad mentality now.  Everyone is working together and I believe this will really come through in the next year or two.  I think there will be better results because of it.”
We couldn’t make it to Palma this year, but we made the best of the good weather in Australia and had a strong squad of four boats training together on Lake Macquarie to get ready for Europe.  We’re looking forward to racing in Hyères and see where we are at,” Nathan Outteridge added.

Australia’s 470 Women’s crews including Sarah Cook (VIC/ACT) and Carrie Smith (WA) plus Australian Sailing Squad combinations Sasha and Jaime Ryan (QLD) and Jacquie Gurr (VIC) and Amelia Catt (TAS), will be kick-starting their 2014 European campaign in France.

According to Sarah Cook the squad cannot wait to join into the European racing: “We're all excited for our first international event of the season and have been working hard over the recent months towards building our 470 women's squad.  The first event of the international season is always tough, and Hyères is renowned for being particularly challenging at times, but it will be great to get out there and race the world’s best.”

On her personal crew challenges the dual Olympian, rower-turned-sailor Cook added:  “I've been sailing with Carrie while Elise (Rechichi) has been out of the boat for medical reasons.  This has presented significant challenges for both Carrie and I, as she learns to sail 470 after stepping up from the 420 class, and I learn to sail with someone other than Elise, as well as continuing my sailing development as a crew.  Carrie and I are now looking forward to seeing where we're at after making some really big steps forward in training.” 

While the 49er and 470 women will start their 2014 European campaign in Hyères, for 470M crew Mat Belcher (QLD) and Will Ryan (QLD) as well as for Nina Curtis (NSW) and Darren Bundock (NSW) in the Nacra 17, the aim will be to build on the results from ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca a couple weeks ago.  Both crews finished third in Palma and are now aiming to progress in Hyères.

Expectations are also high in the Laser fleet after Australian Sailing finished strongly in Palma with Tom Burton (NSW), Mathew Wearn (WA) and Ashley Brunning (NSW) in the top ten overall and competing in the medal race. 

And as ISAF Sailing World Cup Mallorca winner Tom Burton expects, there is more to come:  “There are bound to be more good Australian Laser results to come in Hyères, no doubt.  We had good results across the whole squad in Palma with the guys who missed out on the top ten never being far away and with the entire squad finishing in the top third of the fleet.”

Since Palma the team had some time out of the boat, mostly doing some cross training and a bit of downtime to refresh and prepare for the next event.

About his own expectations Burton said:  “For myself it would be nice to win again in Hyères.  I won there last year so I will be the defending champion, but as usual I would just like to be in the mix on the last day.  I have shown a few times I can come back from not the best start of the regatta and still be able to be in the mix.  Although I would like to try and start nearer the front this time.”

With the Hyères event cap being extended from 120 boats to 130 boats in the Laser, Australian Sailing Squad members Luke Elliot (WA) and Jeremy O’Connell (VIC) were granted late entries on Tuesday, ending a period of significant angst when it seemed they would be forced to watch from shore.

Hyères will also see Paralympians Colin Harrison (WA), Russel Boaden (WA) and Jonathan Harris (NSW) take to the waters on their way to the IFDS World Championship later this year.

ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères brings together the world's top Olympic and Paralympic class competitors campaigning for the Rio 2016 and Paralympic Sailing Competitions. 

The ISAF Sailing World Cup Hyères from 19-26 April will be the last World Cup of the 2013-14 as the series draws to a close.  Racing commences on Monday, 21 April across ten Olympic and two Paralympic events.  The Medal Races on Saturday 26 April will bring the regatta to a close.

19 – 20 April:   Entries - verification of the boats
20 April:           Compulsory training session and Opening Ceremony at 5 pm
21 – 22 April:   Qualifying Rounds

23 – 25 April:   Finals

26 April:           Medal Race and Award Ceremony at 5 pm

Hyères will see a full contingent of the Australian Sailing Team race in the Olympic boat classes before crews continue onto individual events such as EUROSAF regattas as well as European Class Championships. 

The full team will then head to the ISAF Sailing World Championships to be held in Santander in September, an event to decide half of the nation slots for the Rio 2016 Olympic Games.