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SAILING: Santander signs point to Rio, say Dempsey and Shaw
12:00pm Friday 13th September 2013 in Sport
BRITAIN’S Olympic medallist windsurfers Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw believe the 2014 World Championship waters of Santander will provide a valuable training ground in their quests for Olympic gold at Rio 2016.
Dempsey, the 2012 silver medallist from Weymouth, and reigning RS:X World Champion, admits he has ‘learnt stacks’ at this week’s Santander City Trophy – the test event ahead of the main event next year – and believes the 2014 Worlds will provide a signpost to the next Olympic medallists in three years’ time.
The 33-year-old Dempsey pulled into the overall bronze medal position after today’s two races for the windsurfing fleet in the northern Spanish city. He finished fourth and third, while Shaw – silver medallist at the 2012 Worlds – also moves up to third posting two race wins in the RS:X women’s windsurfing event.
“It was hard work out there,” the Beijing bronze medallist Shaw explained. “You had to keep working and keep the momentum going.
“Having a good lead in the first race, I had an Israeli girl breathing down my neck but managed to hold her off and then I had a really good match race up the last beat of the second race with the French girl.
“It was good to hold both of those girls off who are very, very good in that kind of wind.
“It is very similar to Rio,” the 30-year-old Shaw continued. Having been out there this summer, you really do need to get a handle on the current out there.
“It’s quite tricky, and also the swells – you can get some big rolling swells coming through even through the harbour entrance, so it’s a good place to practice here [in Santander].”
Dempsey agreed: “It’s a great venue for Rio. If you stuck a really windy World Championship in there next year, it’s not really that relevant to Rio, whereas I think doing well here next year will be a similar person to who’s [going to do] well in Rio.
“It’s definitely worth doing everything you can to try and win that World Championships and that’s going to be the focus [for me] from now on.”
Dempsey, who wrote his name in the history books by securing a second RS:X men’s world title in Brazil in March, has had a comparatively low-key competition season in this post-Olympic year. He has his sights set on a world title defence next year, but knows it won’t be easy.
“The wind patterns are different to home, it’s very unpredictable out there,” he explained.
“We’re generally going to get light winds next year which is going to make it difficult again – the current is a factor and we have a huge swell. Plus, there are five race courses to try and master so doing that in training is not going to be easy.
“We’re definitely going to have to factor some time here during the summer next year. It’s not going to be a straightforward World Championship!”
Thursday saw the first day of racing for the Laser and Laser Radial fleets, who have a four-day event off the back of their European Championships last week.
British Sailing Team Podium Potential sailor Martin Evans won the second race of the day to take an early lead in the Laser fleet, while Bewdley Olympian and European bronze medallist Alison Young is poised in second overall after this first.
In the 470 class, European silver medallists Luke Patience, from Portland, and Joe Glanfield have held on to their lead for the fourth day, with 6,4 from their two races keeping a three-point lead over the Japanese pair of Kazuto Doi and Kimihiko Imamura.
Ben Saxton and Hannah Diamond maintain their overall lead in the Nacra 17 multihull event, with Rupert White and Nikki Boniface poised in third.
Racing continues at the Santander City Trophy today with the final fleet races for the 470 men, 470 women and Finn classes ahead of their medal races on Saturday.
Medal races for all other classes will be held on Sunday 15 September.
The 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander will form part of the country qualification process for the 2016 Olympic Games.
For full regatta results and information visit santander2014.com