Ben Cornish of Great Britain and France’s Fabian Pic made the best of the opening day of the World Cup Series in Hyeres, France with a race win apiece after a day of moderate winds and early sunshine. Nicholas Heiner from the Netherlands ended the day in second with Canada’s Tom Ramshaw in third.
Race 1 got started in a pleasant 9-11 knots with Oscar flag flying for free pumping. After a route up the middle right, Cornish squeezed round the top mark in the lead from Italy’s Filippo Baldassari and Henry Wetherall of Great Britain.
Ramshaw took the left track downwind and passed Cornish, who later admitted he had not seen the Oscar flag flying. Ramshaw held the lead through the gate, but on the shortened second upwind where the leaders covered each other, Baldassari got in front, if very briefly. This time Cornish got it right downwind and moved ahead, only to make another mistake and pass through the gate marks on his way to the finish, sailing a longer course than those who sailed straight to the finish. He just maintained his lead with Ramshaw second and Baldassari third. Heiner, who had followed Cornish, crossed fourth.
Video highlights of first day in Hyeres
Race 2 started in slightly more breeze, with a clear right hand shift soon after the start. Brazil’s Jorge Zarif, winner of the World Cup Series in Miami, made a very risky port tack approach to the pin and ended up with a UFD starting penalty. Pic emerged from the far right with a nice lead that he extended on all the way to the finish. Mikolaj Lahn from Poland was second throughout, while Zsombor Berecz from Hungary, who had rounded the top mark in 11th moved up on the second upwind to cross in third.
Cornish explained his day. “The first race was an accumulation of school boy errors I think. I forgot that Oscar flag was up for free pumping on the first run and then sailed round the gate, which I didn’t need to do, before the finish line so definitely didn’t make that one easy.”
The conditions were not quite what he was expected, but he followed that with a sixth place to lead overnight. “The wind was a lot further left than we had on our forecast and I always had it in the back of my head that there was something in the right, and as it played out the breeze started to clock right during the day. It was the side to be on.”
On his great start to the week “Can’t complain. Certainly it was a day that was easier to get wrong than to get right so I am glad to come out of that unscathed.”
On the smaller fleet at the World Cup Series, “It has its pros and its cons. I like the idea of getting all the top sailors in one place but also like the size of the fleet that the Finn attracts, so it’s a shame to turn that away from such great venues like this.”
Pic said of his Race 2 win. “I thought the wind was starting to be a bit strange and I saw the cloud, and in those conditions it starts to go right. So I started at the committee boat and went right and then took the pressure, and at the top mark I had nothing to do because the mark was on the left and it was just keep the speed and go.”
“On the second upwind, the Polish (Lahn) was a bit more to the right and each time he was taking a bit more pressure than me so I tried to go over a bit. He was fast though and did really well.”
The talk of the coming days is of the mistral. “I think the mistral is coming. We trained a lot in Marseille with this mistral, and I am ready for that. We can have 25, maybe 35 knots. For sure it is stronger in Marseille, but I think it could be super windy here.”
Third overall, Ramshaw, was very pleased with his start to the week. In the first race, “I had a good start and sailed conservatively and was able to round in the top five and had a good downwind and put it together from there.”
“In the second race I had a bad start and went up the middle and the right came in so there were about 20 boats well ahead. But I ended up sailing a really good downwind and a good upwind and same back to the top 10, so I am really happy with that, and if I can salvage races like that into good races, it will make for a good series.”
Since the Olympics, “I have been training mostly in Valencia. I sailed Miami and Palma, but I did not do very well at those regattas, so I am now working with a new coach, Larry Lemieux, and so far I am really liking where things are going and I am feeling much better out on the race course.”
The Finns fleet is scheduled to have two more races on Wednesday at 13.30. Racing continues until the medal race on Sunday 30 April.
Results after two races
1 GBR 91 Ben CORNISH 7.0
2 NED 89 Nicholas HEINER 9.0
3 CAN 18 Tom RAMSHAW 10.0
4 FRA 17 Fabian PIC 12.0
5 TUR 21 Alican KAYNAR 12.0
6 POL 17 Piotr KULA 15.0
7 FRA 112 Jonathan LOBERT 17.0
8 HUN 40 Zsombor BERECZ 18.0
9 ESP 17 Pablo GUITIAN SARRIA 19.0
10 ITA 123 Filippo BALDASSARI 23.0
Full results here