Olympic Windsurfer Nick Dempsey became the most decorated Olympic windsurfer in Olympic Sailing history when he won a silver medal in the Rio Olympics at the end of the first week of the Olympic Sailing Regatta.
Dempsey, who had turned 36 the day before, went into the men’s RS:X medal race with gold out of his reach, to secure silver he simply needed to complete the race successfully. He finished fourth.
Nick Dempsey: silver medal journey
Nick Dempsey had made that his Olympic ambition clear from the outset. Gold was his aim, and with two straight wins in the opening races, that certainly looked possible. In the end, however, the three wins he posted before the medal race weren't enough. The five-time Olympian enjoyed a consistent series to claim the third Olympic medal of his illustrious career after silver at London 2012 and bronze at Athens 2004.
His old rival, Dorian van Rijsselberghe from The Netherlands, added to his London 2012 gold medal with gold in Rio. Dorian van Rijsselberghe commented, "I was very fortunate that Nick went off like a cannon in the first couple of races because it really showed me like, 'okay, it's not going to be easy.' We never thought it was going to be easy but he really showed me that if I wanted this, I had to work for it. I tried, worked for it and I got it. It's great when you're sailing against guys that are really pushing you and challenging you. If you don't have that it would be very boring."
While the gold looked possible for a while, for Nick Dempsey silver was a considerable achievement. "A year ago, I didn't know where I'd finish. At the Olympic Test event last year I wasn't anywhere near the podium so I had a lot of work to do. The last 12 months have gone really well and I've worked bloody hard, so it's nice to come here and have a chance of winning. To have the silver medal is pretty awesome."
Of becoming the most decorated male windsurfer, Dempsey said: “It is amazing, awesome, something I am incredibly proud of. It has been a long time, I have been working for a long time, and it is very hard to say at the top for that long. I am not sure I can do it again. I would love to if I could.” He also was recorded as saying that he would now be concentrating on his photography career.
Disappointment for Shaw
Sadly in the women's windsurfing competition, it was disappointment for Britain's Bryony Shaw. She placed ninth overall after the medal race of the women’s RS:X, where she was sixth. It was an incredible medal race in the women's windsurfing discipline, with seven of the 10 competitors in the hunt for gold. To have it all come down to one race is amazing.
One of the leading contenders, Russia's Stefania Elfutina, had a shocking start, being given a penalty turn for infringing Bryony Shaw on the start line. Meanwhile, France's Charline Picon had not made the best of starts either. However, by the first mark she had worked her way up to second. Gold was looking in sight, but Picon had to be careful because China's Peina Chen had another gear downwind and shot up from sixth to second by the bottom of the first lap. For a while, China looked set to take the gold, but Picon held on in the light winds to the finish to secure the Olympic title, with Chen settling for silver. Despite her poor start Elfutina rallied to finish in seventh place and the 19-year-old just edged out the Medal Race winner Lillian de Geus from The Netherlands for the bronze.
For 31-year-old Charline Picon, the Olympic title is the culmination of a long campaign in the RS:X class. Eighth at London 2012, she won the 2014 World Championships and had marked herself out as one of the favourites for gold in Rio. She dominated the first day of competition and was always in the hunt.
There was no doubting what the victory meant to Picon. "So many feelings and emotions at the finish line! It has been a really difficult week. Yesterday I counted all the points I lost because things didn't go as I wanted, I had some complicated moments. So winning the gold medal like this in this exciting Medal Race and with this Hollywood scenario, it's just incredible."
At the finish Bryony Shaw admitted she felt “unfulfilled” after finishing her Rio 2016 in ninth overall and she was left reflecting on what might have been in Rio. She said: “I had a good cycle in the build up to 2012 and didn't have a great Games and the same has happened here. It's potentially a worse scenario here as I was in good health and good form, so this time it's come down more to mistakes and misfortune. Hopefully I'll come back stronger for the next one.”
Elsewhere on the water: Scott secures gold
Meanwhile four-time world champion Scott cannot be knocked off top spot in the Finn after an eighth and a second in the last two outings of his qualifying series gave him an unassailable lead going into Tuesday's medal race.
Scott has a 24-point lead and now just needs to complete the medal race, where he will officially win Team GB’s fourth successive Olympic title in the Finn after three straight from Sir Ben Ainslie.
Today will see medal race action for the Laser and Radial classes. Nick Thompson still hopes to claim Britain’s third sailing medal of the Rio Games, while Alison Young will race in the Laser Radial Medal Race, but is not in a position to secure a podium finish. Both races will take place on the Pão de Açucar (Sugarloaf) course, the Radials from 1700hrs and the Lasers from 1800hrs.
Meanwhile, the women’s 470 duo of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are leading after an eighth and a victory but it is not such good news for the men’s crew of Luke Patience and Chris Grube who fell to 10th after a disqualification and a 20th. Nacra 17 pair Ben Saxton and Nicola Groves are eighth going into the medal race after finishing their qualifying series with two 15th-place finishes and a 12th.
For more on watching the Olympic sailing, see the schedule below and our feature How to watch Olympic Sailing.