A flying return for the Semaine Olympique Française


Semaine Olympique Française

The 53rd Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères – TPM opened in classic Côte d’Azur style on Monday with the world’s best rising to the strong winds through a field of 751 sailors from over 50 countries. It was like they had never been away. After missing two years because of Covid, it was the most welcome and vivacious of returns for a venue and event that means so much to so many. Racing began at 11 in glorious sunshine, under cloudless skies and with strong offshore westerly winds of 15-20 knots. A choppy sea state, more so on the more the easterly courses with less protection from the bay and Îles d’Or, as well as wind gusts between 25-30, kept everyone on their toes. Both the world and sailing have changed since the last Semaine Olympique Française de Hyères in 2019. The 10 classes that will be contested in Marseille for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games were in Hyères – which is just 50 miles west down the coast – for the first time. And it was flight time for the five foiling classes on show.

First iQFOiL flyby

“We haven’t seen the SOF for 3 years, it’s great to have all the classes and it’s a first regatta for the iQFOiL in Hyères – we’ve already done Marseille!” Hélène Noesmoen, France’s iQFOiL World and European Champion, said. Noesmoen confirmed her total dominance by winning all five of the races. Fellow Frenchwoman, Delphine Cousin, lies in second but it looked as if there were two separate races being run, Noesmoen and the rest.

France like the iQFOiL. Nicolas Goyard, who like compatriot Noesmoen is the World and European champion, but unlike her didn’t have it all his own way in the men’s event. He finished the day in second behind fellow Frenchman, Clément Bourgeois after their five races. Thomas Goyard, Nicolas’s older brother and silver medallist in the now replaced RS:X event at the Tokyo Olympics last summer is lying in fourth. “Today was a very windy day, I think we are all shattered; the triceps and the thighs have had a good workout,” Nicolas Goyard said. For my part, I didn’t have a single really clean race without a lot of mistakes. I stayed well placed, but I had the speed potential to do much better. But it’s my comeback, it’s been three months since my last regatta.”

Olympic champion quality

The quality of competition throughout the fleets was immediately demonstrated at the start of the day in the men’s ILCA 7, where Matthew Wearn, Australia’s Olympic champion, and Philipp Buhl, Germany’s 2020 World Champion, traded wins at the head of a lead group that dominated both races.