Sail For Gold - Dempsey and Shaw Celebrate, But Only Just

The top RS:X windsurfers are back at Weymouth and Portland, this time it’s the top UK racers (Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw) joined by the growing pool of talented young racers looking to topple them from their top spots. 

There are many racers hot on their heels: Izzy Hamilton, Emma Wilson, El Carney, Tom Squires and many more have their hearts set on the Rio Olympics. With the talent and proven results of Shaw and Dempsey, it’s going to be hard for any to be chosen above the previous Olympians, however could 2016 be the year that some new faces will represent the UK? Who do you think it could be? 

Check out full results here. 

Elliot Carney, leading the pack on day one at Sail for Gold.
Elliot Carney, leading the pack on day one at Sail for Gold.

Beijing Olympic windsurfing bronze medallist Bryony Shaw picked up her second win of the season, adding to the gold she picked up at the Hyeres Sailing World Cup. It was Shaw’s fifth podium finish out of the six events she has competed in this year as she held on to her lead with a second place finish in today’s medal race – to give her an overall win by five points. Robert York had a great week finishing second overall whilst two-time ISAF Youth Worlds silver medallist Izzy Hamilton was third.

“It was a windy medal race today – Robert [York] put on a good show and won the medal race and I finished second but it’s nice to win overall. The first couple of day I put together a string of wins in the light winds so I was pleased with my pumping and tactics. When we got to the more plaining conditions with the bigger breeze is when Robert really started to challenge me which was good and we had some really close racing.”

Nick Dempsey, the current RS:X World Champion, overcame Elliot Carney with a medal race win to secure top spot in the RS:X 9.5 event. The GBR sailors have been neck and neck all week, trading firsts and seconds from the opening day of the regatta, resulting in a ‘winner takes all’ scenario from today’s medal race decider.

The two-time Olympic medallist said: “I had a pretty bad day on Monday, and I think other than that it hasn’t been so tight, but I certainly put a bit of pressure on myself having such an awful day on Monday and I certainly had a bit of work to do for the rest of the week. But it’s turned out pretty good in the end and I’m pretty happy with how the event’s gone – it’s been perfect preparation for the Europeans in a few weeks’ time.”

Trailing overnight leader Carney by a single point, Dempsey admits that he was looking forward to today’s medal race decider: “I was confident – it was quite windy and I’m pretty comfortable in those conditions and I know that if I get a clean start then I should generally just sail away from the fleet. But you never know- a lot can go wrong and you just have to be careful and do everything you can to minimise any risks.”

Dempsey concluded: “Elliot sailed really well and it’s been a really nice mixed of conditions and it was quite close all the way to the end so it was nice to finish it off in the medal race.”

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Relishing the conditions in the RS:X windsurfing 9.5 class was Nick Dempsey who added three race wins and a second to his scorecard today.

The two-time World Champion is second behind Carney (GBR) overall and admits that today’s conditions were a lot more favourable than yesterday.

“Certainly yesterday was difficult,” expressed Dempsey. “We’re racing very short courses so you make the slightest mistake and then you’re kind of in trouble.  Today was much easier for me – I’m pretty fast so you just hook in and go. But yesterday was hard.

“Elliot seems to be sailing OK – he sailed well yesterday but today was pretty easy [for me] really – we’ll see what the rest of the week is like. Hopefully it will be a little bit harder tomorrow – if it’s windy, it’s easy but if it’s light then it’s hard.”

Since last summer’s Games, Dempsey has begun training with a new group of sailors from the British Sailing Team Podium Potential Squad, with Dempsey giving praise to the younger generation of sailors.

“I’ve done a lot with Tom Squires and the past couple of weeks has been the first time we’ve trained with some of the younger boys and they’re really, really good! It’s great to see.  I haven’t seen that for 10 years, the depth in sailors is great.  We’ll try and take them on board in our training group and do as much as we can with them, try and make them better and bring them up to speed. The better they are, the better it is for me and for British Sailing.”

In the RS:X 8.5 class runaway leader Bryony Shaw added a further two race wins to her impressive score line while Robert York put a stop to Shaw’s dominance with two race wins himself. Izzy Hamilton remains third after another consistent day out on the water.

Shaw said: “It was going to be interesting to see how Robert got on in the windy stuff and he definitely performed really well. I am disappointed [to have lost my clean sweep] but it’s really nice to see Robert stepping up and giving me a good bit of competition today, so good on him.”

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British Sailing Team’s Bryony Shaw, who is competing in Weymouth and Portland for the first time since finishing seventh at last summer’s Olympic Games, was in fine form from the word go picking up three race wins in the RS:X 8.5 fleet.

“Today was a great day for me, I managed to win all three races in the mixed conditions so a great start to the regatta. The wind started off Easterly with quite a bit of pressure, maybe enabling some planing at times, and then it made a big shift to the south which meant the course was rejigged, but we managed to get three good races so credit to the Race Management team. There was a lot of pumping out there and it was very tactical racing at times.”

Shaw enters the event off the back of taking a silver and gold at the last two Sailing World Cup events in Hyeres and Palma, after also winning silver at the RS:X World Championships 2013 in Brazil, with the 30-year-old explaining that since then she has been spending time working on her fitness in preparation for this week’s regatta.

“I started off the year doing a lot of regattas with race after race following the world tour so the last few weeks I have had a chance to spend more time in the gym, working on my fitness and also trying to lean down, so it’s good to enter this regatta fresh and ready to go.

“This week is good preparation for the RS:X Europeans in a few weeks and it’s also just nice to be back racing in Weymouth and Portland again. It’s great to see all the youngsters coming up through the RYA ranks. Emma Wilson had a great race two today, I think she is only 14 and she was hot on my heels at one point  rounding the mark in second which was fantastic to see!”

In the RS:X 9.5 event, Olympic silver medallist Nick Dempsey (GBR) started his regatta off with a DNF followed by two firsts but it’s Elliot Carney (GBR) who tops the leaderboard after today’s three races with 1-3-2.

“There is going to be a good little battle between me and Nick this week which is all I can ask for really,” said the GBR windsurfer who trains with the Dutch 2012 Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsselberge.

“I have had a good start to the regatta and the fight is now on! There was a huge shift in the opening race which didn’t go Nick’s way leaving the door open for me to finish first. I haven’t been in Weymouth since the Games so it’s nice to be back amongst the GBR sailors, plus you couldn’t really ask for much more when the sun is shining.

“It’s a good event for me just to see where I’m at against my biggest rival. We have got a long four years ahead of us and this is just the start of trying to compete against Nick and fighting for his spot at the Games in Rio,” concluded Carney.

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