OLYMPICS: Dempsey’s gold charge stays on track

Nick Dempsey  smiles after crossing the finish line.

Nick Dempsey smiles after crossing the finish line.

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Nick Dempsey’s quest to claim an historic RS:X windsurfing gold remained on track in Rio yesterday (August 9).

But the day did not pass without controversy as Dempsey was awarded redress post-racing for an incident involving the Lithuanian, Juozas Bernotas, that left him in the water at the first mark of the third and final race of the day – race six overall.

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 Monday’s blistering start as he added another race win and a fourth to maintain his lead over defending Olympic champion, Dorian Van Rijsselberge from the Netherlands.

But race three proved much more incident packed as, after finally getting away at the third time of asking, in extremely light breeze as dusk drew in, Dempsey crossed the line in 14th, before being successful in his redress hearing and being awarded average points for the first nine races.

The decision leaves the five-time Olympian still sat in pole position with the RS:X class now having a rest day tomorrow. Dempsey could not be happier with how the first half of the regatta has gone.

The Peterborough-raised surfer who learned his trade at Ferry Meadows, 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 first race was pretty simple, a bit like yesterday, I had a really good start, then the second race I was all right, I was into third then they put a shorten course mark on our leg which I presumed was for us, but it wasn’t us so I lost a couple of places.

“In the third race I got knocked in at the windward mark and so 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.”

Having reached the midway point of their scheduled 12-race opening series, the windsurfers return to action on the Niterói course, where they will race on the South Atlantic Ocean just outside Guanabara Bay, on Thursday.

Van Rijsselberge enjoyed the best day on the water yesterday, with a fourth and two firsts keeping him hot on Dempsey’s heels, while two seconds and a third puts 2016 World Champion, Piotr Myszka from Poland, in third.

Dempsey added: “Every Games is different, you are always racing different people in different conditions. Here the conditions are really hard, which just means it is never over. I feel I have a good handle on what it is going to take to win here and I’m feeling comfortable and confident.”