BRITISH sailors got off to a steady start on a light and testing first day of World Cup racing in Palma Bay yesterday.
Paralympic champion Helena Lucas secured the perfect scorecard with two race wins in the 2.4mR fleet to kick off her regatta, while eight other British Sailing Team crews across seven of the 10 Olympic classes picked up race wins on a tricky sea breeze opening day at the Princess Sofia Trophy.
Among them was Weymouth’s RS:X Windsurfing world champion Nick Dempsey, for whom this event marks the start of his 2016 assault.
After a low-key – albeit successful – 2013 competition season in which he claimed a history-making second RS:X world crown, Dempsey has resolved to have one last shot at claiming an elusive Olympic gold in Rio after previously indicating that 2012 would be his last attempt.
“I would have liked to have done something different after the Games, but sometimes life changes a little bit,” the 33-year-old explained. “I found myself wanting to do what I knew and what made me happy – and what made me happy was windsurfing, so here I am doing another Olympic campaign.
“I wasn’t sure last year after the World Championships, but I’ve got some good people around me and I found myself loving it and enjoying it, and feeling like I can go to Rio and win a gold.
“It’s a positive place to be after a challenging time, but I’m excited by it and I want to win, and if I still want to win then I’m still going to do it.”
If Dempsey achieves his golden ambition then he would become the most successful men’s Olym-pic windsurfer with a silver from 2012 and a bronze from 2004 already under his belt.
But it’s the medal, not the moniker, that entices the Wey-mouth sailor.
“It doesn’t really bother me. It’s an Olympic gold, isn’t it? I haven’t got one, and I want one.
“I’ve windsurfed my whole life and not achieved what I think I should have. It’s my final chance and I think it’s within my grasp.”
Dempsey is poised in ninth place after this first three-race day for the windsurfers in Palma, posting a ninth, a race win and a 10th, and admitted to struggling in the fitness stakes in light airs.
In the 2.4mR fleet, there’s a British one-two at the top of the leaderboard, with Portland’s Megan Pascoe right behind Lucas.
On the 470 racecourse, Luke Patience, from Portland, and Elliot Willis had a steady first day of World Cup sailing together, with a consistent six, five, six – a scoreline matched by Bryony Shaw in the RS:X women’s windsurfing fleet.