Five-time Olympian windsurfer sits first overall after opening day

Nick Dempsey enjoyed an almost perfect start to his Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing Regatta ending day one in pole position in the RS:X Men’s windsurfing yesterday.

But there was a mixed bag of results for the other Brits whose Olympic campaigns also got underway today, with Bryony Shaw (RS:X Women) lying in 10th, Nick Thompson (Laser) in 11th and Alison Young (Laser Radial) 13th after their opening races.

Two-time World Champion Dempsey, who turns 36 this Saturday, 13 August, secured two race wins and a second place to lead the RS:X competition ahead of London 2012 gold medallist Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED) in second and 2015 Olympic Test Event silver medallist, Byron Kokkalanis (GRE), third.

Dempsey came out of the blocks meaning business as, in virtually carbon copy races one and two, he led from start to finish, keeping a healthy distance between himself and second-placed Kokkalanis in each. In race three he again led for half the race before settling for second behind Van Rijsselberge.

He said: ‘It was just a dream start; three good starts off the line and I was just really fast so it was good, brilliant. If you are fast and you are out in front then it’s pretty simple.’

He added: ‘Training has been going well, I’ve been sailing really fast, and I was just nervous about something not happening, something not quite going right. But today was absolutely perfect, it couldn’t have been better.

‘But it’s early days, we are three races into a 13 race series. It’s brilliant and it’s what you dream of as a start to your Olympic Games so we will see.’

Bryony Shaw racing at the Rio 2016 Olympic sailing competition. Credit: Sailing Energy/World Sailing

Bryony Shaw racing at the Rio 2016 Olympic sailing competition. Credit: Sailing Energy/World Sailing

In the Women’s RS:X, Shaw had a slightly more difficult day to contend with as her first race was blighted by a technical issue seeing her finish seventh and her second she got caught on the committee boat line, taking her into the water and ending in 20th place.

Although regaining her composure for the third race to finish ninth, the Beijing 2008 bronze medallist will want to put on a good performance to get back on track in their three races tomorrow.

Nick Thompson. Credit: British Sailing Team

Nick Thompson. Credit: British Sailing Team

In the Laser classes, both Thompson and Young struggled to get to grips with the tricky conditions faced on the Escola Naval course, Thompson scoring 8, 17 from his two races and Young 13, 18. Both sailors, their respective class World Champions, insist there is plenty still to come with nobody in their fleets dominating day one.

Thompson said: ‘It was a couple of mistakes on the first beat that put me at the back of the fleet at the windward marks, but from there I think I sailed really well.

‘It was a really tricky first day. The first beats threw up some really big surprises with big shifts right at the top and I didn’t manage to get it right. I had a lot of positives to take from my windward mark positions but it wasn’t the results I was looking for.

‘It’s mixed emotions; it’s good to get the regatta away but I would have liked a better day and I’m sure everyone will come in and say the same thing.’

Alison Young. Credit: British Sailing Team

Alison Young. Credit: British Sailing Team

Young added: ‘It was a tricky day out there racing. There were lots of opportunities on the racecourse, but unfortunately I made a few too many mistakes so there’s room to work on through the rest of the week.

‘The breeze is pretty shifty, we had some differences in the tide as well so it was just tricky racing. But I expect it to be challenging all the way through the week from what we’ve seen out here so far, so there are plenty of opportunities still to go.’

Racing for all the four classes resumes at 5pm (BST) today, when the Olympics will get underway for the Finn class meaning four-times World Champion Giles Scott begins his quest for Rio gold.

The RS:Xs, 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 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 on 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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