Halfway point for windsurfing classes at Rio 2016
Windsurfer Nick Dempsey’s gold medal quest stayed on track after another impressive display in Rio yesterday.
Dempsey, who will be the most successful male windsurfer of all time if he adds gold to his Athens 2004 bronze and London 2012 silver, had picked up from where he left from day one’s blistering start as he added another race win and a fourth to maintain his lead over defending Olympic champion, Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED).
He then gained redress post-racing – being awarded average points for the first nine races – for an incident involving the Lithuanian, Juozas Bernotas, that left him in the water in the third and final race of the day – race six overall.
The RS:X class has a rest day today and Dempsey could not be happier with how the first half of the regatta has gone.
He said: ‘I feel brilliant, I feel great, I feel the best I have ever felt on the board, I feel confident in any conditions. In 15 knots I’m particularly good, it’s going really well.
‘The redress is great and it keeps me in the mix and strengthens my position going into the second half of my regatta. You don’t want to lose your discard too early so it’s a good day.’
Finn contender Giles Scott was left ruing what might have been on the opening day of his regatta as he scored 17th and third place finishes from his two races.
The four-time World Champion got caught on the wrong side of a big right-hand wind shift as the breeze swept over Sugarloaf mountain in race one, before producing a trademark gritty performance in race two to sit 10th overall.
He said: ‘It was tricky, the Sugarloaf course is notoriously difficult. I think the vast majority of the sailors had a good and a bad score apart from the Slovenian sailor (who is leading), so I’m not massively happy with how today has gone, but there is still a long way to go.’
There was more frustration for Alison Young and Nick Thompson in the Laser Radial and Laser classes respectively as they both struggled to get to grips with Rio’s quirks. Scores of 9, 15 from his two races today puts Thompson in 12th overall while Young sits in 18th after 13th and 26th places finishes.
Windsurfer Bryony Shaw consolidated her position in 10th overall with scores of 7, 14 and 12 from the RS:X Women’s three races today before their rest day.
She said: ‘We have spent plenty of time here, we know the race tracks and hopefully there are areas I can gain and improve on through the week. The next races are on Niterói course out in the waves, so maybe my performance will improve out there.’
Meanwhile, today sees the 470 Men and Women – classes in which Britain enjoyed silver medal success at London 2012 – get their Rio campaigns under way while the Nacra 17 makes history as the first mandatory combined male and female Olympic sailing class.
London medal-winning duo Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are bidding for a golden swansong at what is set to be their final Olympics together while Luke Patience is hoping to repeat his home Games success this time with Chris ‘Twiggy’ Grube.
Mills said: ‘It would be just an incredible journey to have gone through together and to come out with a gold medal. There are maybe four or five boats that will probably be challenging for gold. If we can be challenging come the medal race I feel super-confident we can deliver a good final day.’
Patience added: ‘I don’t see any reason why Twiggy and I can’t produce a result that will bring home any colour of medal. It’s a tall, tall order, but somebody has to win. I’m not new to the sport, Twiggy’s not new to the sport. I like being the underdog. I’ll be the freest man on the racecourse. We have nothing to lose.’
Britain’s Nacra 17 history-makers are 2015 European Champions, Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves, who are bidding for more podium glory on their Games debuts.
Groves said: ‘The Nacra 17 is definitely the fastest, most furious boat in the Olympics. It’s very, very physical, and you have to be able to move at the same time as pulling a large amount of weight, so it’s quite challenging. If you do the wrong thing you know about it, the boat will just kick you off. There’s no let up in it at all.’
Racing resumes at 5pm (BST) today. The RS:Xs, 49er, 49erFX and Nacra classes are scheduled to contest 13 race series, with other five classes 11 races each.
The showdown medal races begin with the two RS:X classes this Sunday, 14 August, while the regatta is set to come to a close with the 49er and 49erFX medal races on Thursday 18 August.
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