Britain’s Nick Dempsey enjoyed an almost perfect start to his Rio 2016 securing two race wins and a second place to lead the RS:X Men windsurfing competition at the end of the opening day of the Olympic sailing regatta today (August 8).
Five-time Olympian Dempsey dominated the opening two races from start to finish to lay down an early gauntlet to the rest of the fleet, before settling for second spot behind London 2012 champion, Dorian Van Rijsselberge (NED) in the third and final race of the day to hold a two-point advantage at the top of the leaderboard.
Second overall is Van Rijsselberge (NED) with 2015 Olympic Test Event silver medallist, Byron Kokkalanis (GRE), in third, both on four points.
The two-time World Champion Brit, who turns 36 this Saturday, would become the most successful male windsurfer of all time if he can win Rio gold to add to his Athens 2004 bronze and London 2012 silver medals.
And Peterborough-raised dad of two Dempsey who learned to windsurf at Ferry Meadows could not have got his medal quest off to a better start.
He said: “Today 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.
“The last race got really funky and kind of complicated and a lot of guys around me got stuck as the left-hand side of the course died out and that had been the favoured side all day. But I managed to get away with it and hold onto second.
“I was pretty nervous this morning. 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.”
With the left-hand side of the iconic Pão de Açúcar (Sugarloaf) course heavily favouring, Dempsey powered off the middle off start line in the first two races, reaching mark one ahead of the pack and retaining his lead throughout with the Greek Kokkalanis chasing him in second in what were almost carbon copy races.
Race three saw Dempsey quickly get into his stride again, leading for half the race before a close battle with 2011 World Champion Van Rijsselberge and Tae Hoon Lee (KOR) saw him claim second spot behind the Dutchman but ahead of the Korean.
With sailors able to discard their worst score after three races, Dempsey ends the day on two points with the RS:X Men’s next three races scheduled to start tomorrow (Tuesday 9 August) at 5.10pm (BST).
Dempsey added: “Today was pretty stable; it’s as good as it gets here. The last race got a bit more ‘Rio like’ and it dropped a few bombs on the course. A lot of people got caught out, a lot of people did very well out of it, and that was probably the best part of the day as it could’ve gone wrong at the moment. I sailed as well as I can sail.
“You’re always really nervous when you’re winning a race and going fast and you think ‘Okay, the only thing that can go wrong now is I hit something or I get something on my fin’. But I didn’t, so that was really good.
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.”
The RS:X class is scheduled to contest a 13 race series, with three races per day on 8, 9, 11 and 12 August before the final one off medal race on Sunday (August 14).