Olympics, Blue 470 Mix qualified. All updates from Hyères.

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470 Mix in LCR; Giacomo Ferrari and Alessandra Dubbini (ITA 3) © Sailing Energy / Semaine Olympique Française; April 25, 2024

There are two categories present here at the
Semaine Olympique Française 2024
, we have said it many times by now, but it is worth repeating: Qualified Nations and Last Chance Regatta. Categories into which all classes are divided (except the Nacra 17 QN, suspended in view of the very near World Championship), but which have quite different purposes and weights. The former, in fact, is an excellent opportunity to understand, study and test each other, an exercise reserved for nations that have already qualified. The second, LCR, on the other hand, is the most tense, the most committed: the last chance for the remaining Olympic passes. And Team Blue, here, has been excelling for days: the 470 Mix has qualified for the Paris 2024 Olympics after a five days of commendable performances

French Olympic Week 2024

Before the numbers, however, a picture of the atmosphere in which it all takes place. Indeed, the air that has pulled in these days has been a crescendo of tension, charged with a mixture of apprehension and anxiety, possible broken dreams and excitement. And this applied to every athlete in LCR. Not a few tears, crises, and raw nerves glimpsed among the boats, or hidden behind a bus. Not to be outdone, however, are the Qualified Nations, yes relieved of the great weight and tension, but still engaged in a not inconsiderable exercise of study, a time spent in the water that, dancing conditions aside, offers great insights for the athletes so that they can get a true idea of their level, regardless of their ranking numbers. And it applies to athletes in Paris as well as others.

  • If you missed them, find the articles related to Day 1, Day 2 and Day 3 here. Want to know the classes featured in the 2024 Olympics? We explain them HERE.
49er LRC © Sailing Energy / Semaine Olympique Française
April 24, 2024

SOF 2024: The Azure Performance.

Let’s start right away with the Last Chance Regatta. After five days of top performances, this 55th edition of the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères sees Team Azzurra’s goal on the Mixed Dinghy front for Paris 2024 mathematically achieved thanks to a week that saw the Italian 470s consistently at the top. Now, the two crews, made up of Giacomo Ferrari and Alessandra Dubbini (ITA 3) on one side and Elena Berta and Bruno Festo (ITA 6) on the other, only have today to clinch the final results in Medal Race. Last night, after all, the two crews were respectively first and second in the standings, with 19 points for one, 27 for the other. The third, namely the Slovenian duo Mrak / Božič, to offer a comparison, was 43 points clear…

470 Mix LCR; Elena Berta and Bruno Festo (ITA 6) © Sailing Energy / Semaine Olympique Française; April 25, 2024

Less sweet is the conclusion concerning the Italian Men’s Skiff, the Men’s 49er, where Italy this round-despite consistently top-ten trials and rankings-does not qualify. It remains, however, in the running for possible repechage and, nevertheless, today still retains the task of closing out the Medal Race in the best possible way, won by both blue crews. The placings, as of last night, in fact saw the crew composed of Simone Ferrarese and Leonardo Chisté (ITA 23) sixth, the other eighth, given by the duo Umberto Crivelli Visconti and Giulio Calabrò (ITA 88).

As for the overall results, we will update you in our concluding article this Sunday.

ILCA 6 © Sailing Energy / Semaine Olympique Française

Moving up the rankings, meanwhile, was Lorenzo Brando Chiavarini (ITA 216159) in ILCA 7 QN, finishing the fifth day of practice in 14th position. Dimitri Peroni (ITA 221118), on the other hand, comes in 25th, still highlighting a quality duo, with both athletes in the middle/high rankings. On the other hand, Chiara Benini Floriani (ITA 211961) + Giorgia Della Valle (ITA 212296) closed yesterday’s ILCA 6 QN in 33rd and 49th place, respectively. Sixteenth, on the other hand, was Sofia Renna (ITA 25) in the women’s iQfoil, followed by Linda Oprandi (ITA 4), in 19th position yesterday, considering, however, that, the latter did not race in the last 2 races held.

iQfoil (F) © Sailing Energy / Semaine Olympique Française

SOF 2024: unexpected encounters

Rankings aside, we also tried to talk to the international athletes, just as we had done in previous days with some members of Team Azzurro. But the anxiety of the past few days has grown indirectly proportional to the time remaining, resulting in an exact index of the climate: more kindly or less, each of our attempts has been declined, even rightly so; concentration is the number one focus here. Far be it from us to want to distract them. After all, looking further, here one is not only surrounded by athletes and Olympians of every category, and it is therefore surprising, but not surprising, even the most peculiar encounter.

Our “drivers” between the race courses, we do indeed happen to talk to the two (apparently) anonymous Frenchmen in the wheelhouse: gray hair and faces hollowed out by salt and sun. A few words on the fly, and while waiting for the first start, we watch France train offshore, the legendary French 12 MI of the 1974America’s Cup. The first of the two mentions to me, between sips of his pastis, that he was part of the crew in the 1970s, remembering ’72 as a year of misadventures (France sank, but they fished it out quickly). I don’t have time to ask him to tell me more that he moves on-there is also Ikra on the dock he adds. In June, after all, there will be the 12 Meters Worlds in the Porquerolles.

France and Icra at the dock in Hyères

The helmsman, the silent Frenchman, won, however, a Giraglia, first overall in the 1990s, when the finish was in San Remo. But he won it in his own way, first on a small 36-footer, I translate as he chuckles, gearing up in reverse to not hit a passing 49er.

But the Semaine Olympique Française is not just about tension, focus and “old glories.” Looking beyond the veil, observing the faces, catching the right interlocutors, many criticisms and issues also emerge… from the usual questions related to the jury (always criticized, regardless), to more structural, systemic criticisms… While the atmosphere among the athletes is full of concentration and tension, on the other hand, the various teams, coaches and managers experience the event differently. There is certainly a considerable degree of apprehension and focus on their part as well, but, in the expectations, there are also more convivial, more relaxed moments. It is in one of these cases that one of the criticisms of the system emerges, not so much related to the Semaine Olympique Française itself, but to the system more generally.

49er a la Semaine Olympique Francaise 2024

Let’s be honest, competitive sailing is not an inexpensive “game,” quite the contrary. Hulls, equipment, clothing, training, travel, regattas, gyms, preparation, time, dinghies, buses, hotels and singing company, in short, it takes little to understand the economic complexities behind a competitive preparation, let alone an Olympic run. An even more sensitive juncture in classes where costs related to the individual “hull” cheerfully exceed several tens of thousands of euros. It is perhaps an issue we overlook, or tend not to think about, but one only has to have coffee at the Base Nautique café to hear the various members of the international teams and federations chatting with each other and discussing. In one such case, this is the focus that catches my attention: “the system is not working well, it is not balanced.” The question posed is simple: how can those nations that, even at their best, on the funding and state push front struggle the most, be competitive, access that closed number of Olympic slots? How can they compete with countries where the affordability, state and federal thrust are incredibly superior?

ILCA 7 a la 55th Semaine Olympique Française and Last Chance Regatta

It is not only the fabric of the athletes that makes the difference. The key detail is given by the numbers: the more “exigent” classes have less participation across a range of countries (when they have any), and the fewer boats there are in a country, in a context, the less chance of having propaedeutic training, the less chance of growing, the less chance of earning a slot. Just look at the geographical areas of origin; the numbers hardly lie. The conclusion? There seems to be no response from those posing the criticism, and the discourse moves on, to a factor on which, at this time and precise context, we all agree: now, meanwhile, the Games are on the line, “the stone has begun to roll,” as someone said, and we need to get our heads down and focus on Marseille (read, Paris 2024).

olympics

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