Nick Dempsey laid down an early marker on the sailing test event gold on Thursday (4 August) with a rapid start to his Weymouth and Portland International Regatta race series.
The 30-year-old, who won his only World Championship title at the same venue two years ago, picked up an enviable pair of results – a second and a first – from his opening two races of the 11-race regatta to see him on top of the leaderboard at the end of the first day of racing for the RS:X class.
Bryony Shaw also saw a solid start in the women’s RS:X fleet, while Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor advanced to the quarter-finals of the women’s match racing with three more wins to cap off the preliminary round-robin stage in fourth place.
The third day of racing at this 2012 test event saw a gloomy start beset with rain showers, but by the time racing got underway at midday, the skies had cleared and a moderate south-westerly breeze was in play.
In the RS:X men’s event, Dempsey tussled with his key rival Dorian van Rijsselberge, with the Dutchman taking the first race win to Dempsey’s second. But the Skandia Team GBR sailor found another gear in the second race of the day to take the gun 40 seconds ahead of van Rijsselberge.
“It was our first day of racing on the west course, so I was slightly nervous about racing down there. It’s the first time I’ve ever raced that far down and it all went well,” said Dempsey.
“The conditions were great – we had some really nice sailing conditions, quite tricky, which caught a few people out, and I’m really happy to have had a solid day.
“I am fast in these conditions,” he continued. “I’ve been fast most of the year, but it’s all starting to come together a little bit more, and all my kit’s working well. I’m liking it out there and feel quite comfortable.”
But Dempsey, who won the Skandia Sail for Gold Regatta six weeks at the same venue just six weeks ago, is not getting ahead of himself after the first day, and knows that he’ll face a tough challenge against both van Rijsselberge and the New Zealader Jon Paul Tobin if he’s to make it back to back regatta wins on the 2012 waters.
“They’re both amazingly good sailors, it’s just a case of race by race. If I can beat them by one or two places over the course of the day then great and hopefully by the end of the week I’ll have a bit of space. There’s a long way to go – tomorrow’s going to be a bit lighter and that will mix the results right up. I don’t have the same speed advantage in those conditions as when it’s windy so I’ll be probably mixing it in the pack and trying my best to keep in touch with the top guys.”
Bryony Shaw saw a pleasing start to her regatta, in fifth place overall in the RS:X women’s fleet with an eighth and a third from her opening two races with Spaniard Marina Alabau the one to beat with two race wins to start her series.
Shaw, the Beijing bronze medallist, enjoyed racing in Weymouth Bay, outside of the windsurfers’ more usual area of Portland Harbour, adding “some girls were going better than others and I think I got myself stuck in there which is good!”
“The women aren’t racing at all in the harbour this week, and everyone that’s trained and raced here over the years has honed their skills for the harbour so it’s tricky when they start throwing in these changes. I kind of thought we’d have some racing on other courses but not exclude the harbour completely.
“It’s OK that they’ve mixed it up, but it has thrown the cat amongst the pigeons a bit!”
For the latest news and information from the British Sailing Team at the Weymouth and Portland International Regatta, visit www.skandiateamgbr.com or follow TeamGBR on Twitter (@SkandiaTeamGBR).