OLYMPICS LONDON 2012: Dempsey's silver joined by Patience and Bithell
By Oliver Porritt, Sportsbeat, in Weymouth
GREAT Britain’s sailors enjoyed another day of success in Weymouth as windsurfer Nick Dempsey secured silver in the RS:X class before the men’s 470 pairing of Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell guaranteed themselves at least a second place finish.
SILVER SURFER: Nick Dempsey clinched silver as Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell guaranteed their spot on the podium
Dempsey started the day second, knowing a finish near the front of the fleet would see him secure the medal, with gold already out of reach.
The British windsurfer won bronze in the mistral class in 2004 before coming an agonising fourth in Beijing on the new RS:X board, losing a medal in the final few hundred metres.
There was no chance Dempsey would make the same mistake this time as he powered off the start line to ensure the British sailing team won their third medal of the Games on home waters.
And he could be Britain's first windsurfing Olympic medallist for some time, with kitesurfing set to replace the discipline in Rio.
“I feel amazing and swimming over to the fans was incredible,” said Dempsey who is married to double Olympic champion sailor Sarah Ayton. “I wanted to go and see my boys and I knew they were on the hill.
“I wanted to go and say hello to my son Thomas and my friends and family – those moments don’t come round often and if you can share them with your friends and family then why not.
“Thomas said to me ‘have you finished work now daddy’, and for this week I have.”
Dempsey remained tight-lipped as to exactly what his future holds but he did confirm his Olympic career was not yet over and while he is devastated his sport has been removed, he did give a tantalising clue to what lies ahead.
“There is a lawsuit now to keep windsurfing in the Olympics,” Dempsey said. “And it would be fantastic if it does get back in – if it does get back in then that’s what I’ll do.
“But it might not – and while I haven’t tried kite surfing yet, I have ordered some kites.”
Patience and Bithell are just four points behind the Australians Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page who scored two race wins, with the British pair taking a second and third.
Both boats have an unassailable lead over the Argentinians and Italians and will fight it out for gold, with Patience and Bithell needing to beat the Aussies with at least one nation between them.
“It is a two-horse race now, we can finally say that,” Bithell said. “To have secured at least a silver medal feels fantastic but it hasn’t sunk in properly yet.
“We’ll celebrate the small success of that then have a day off tomorrow then we get cracking on the medal race day to see if we can go one colour shinier.”
Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark still have gold in their sights as they head into the final three races of the women’s 470 in second place, four points behind New Zealand’s Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie and three ahead of Dutch pair Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout.
“We are definitely happy with where we are at the moment,” Clark said. “To be up there fighting for the top spot, we would have definitely taken that at the start of the week.
“We just want to make sure tomorrow we have another consistent day so that we are still fighting come the medal race.
“We’ll be happy to go into the medal race with a chance of winning – the Nothe course has shown if you are in that position you are alright, anything can happen.”
Bryony Shaw was unable to repeat her bronze medal success from Beijing in the women's RS:X class as she finished the medal race in fifth, having started the day with the possibility of a bronze.
And the Elliott 6m women’s match racing team of Lucy Macgregor, her sister Kate and Annie Lush started their quarter final match best of five against Russia with one win and one loss.
© Sportsbeat 2012