Dempsey comes back strong - Olympic Regatta Day 2

Britain's windsurfer recovers his poise with a brilliant sail for second place, Ed Gorman reports from Sydney

Monday September 18th 2000, Author: Ed Gorman, Location: United Kingdom
Nick Dempsey, Great Britain's young windsurfing star, froze in the lights somewhat on the first day of racing at the Olympic regatta on Sydney Harbour. He was OCS and 15th on Sunday, but he came back superbly on day two, showing both himself and his rivals what he is capable of.
Dempsey, who is just 20 and is regarded as having a brilliant future in the Mistral, was clearly very disappointed after his first day. It took him a good few hours plugged into his Walkman at the British team base, to recover his poise.

"I came in after racing and I just wanted to forget about it," he told madforsailing. "Really there was nothing I could do about it so I just decided to relax a bit more and take everything a bit more easy. I thought if I did that, I'd just race like myself and do what I normally do, rather than get all nervous."

His approach certainly seemed to work because, after a night's sleep, he went out on Monday and added a second to his score on another tricky hot day, when the sea breeze filled in to 12-14 knots. With 35 sailors to beat, Dempsey did not have the best of starts and set off to hit the favoured left-hand side hard.

"I worked pretty much flat out to the left corner - my strategy was to go left - and I came out at the top mark in ninth," he said. After picking off a few more places, he was fifth at the first leeward mark and held position for two laps before climbing to third by the last leeward mark, and then overtaking Tony Philp of Fiji on the reach to the finish.

"Getting left seemed to be key so I always went a touch further than the rest of the fleet," said a relieved Dempsey who is now lying fifteenth, just one place adrift of the talented Kiwi, Aaron McIntosh, who was world champion in the class both last year and in 1997. The leader remains Austria's Christoph Sieber who has scored two wins and one second in three starts.

In Solings it was another difficult day on the Tasman Sea for Andy Beadsworth, Richard Sydenham and Barry Parkin, who needed a good second race to pull them up from 13th at the end of the first. After another delay, they eventually got away in just five-to-seven knots and almost fell foul of a big right-hander on the first beat. Beadsworth, who admitted he was beginning to think another bad result was coming his way, bailed out just in time and did well to round the weather mark in ninth.

After that the Britons held a mid-fleet position to the finish, crossing the line in seventh place, a result which lifts them to 10th overall - that's inside the top-12 who go through to the match-racing eliminator. Beadsworth was relieved to have got a decent score under his belt and pleased with his speed. "We were just hoovering along," he said.

After two races, the Soling fleet is being led by Roy Heiner's Dutch crew who are tied with Rod Davis of New Zealand. Some of the best match racers are languishing dangerously near the bottom of the ranking, including defending gold medallist Jochen Schumann of Germany, who is second last, and Jesper Bank of Denmark, who is 12th. Beadsworth pointed out that, at this rate, the early round robins in the match racing are going to be tougher than the seeded stages.

Also out on the Tasman, the Tornado catamarans completed two more races with the Austrians Roman Hagara and Hans P Steinacher adding another win and a second place to stretch ahead of the Australian medal favourites, Darren Bundock and John Forbes, who added two fourths to their overnight score. Britain's Hugh Styles and Adam May continued to shine in the 16-strong fleet, finishing third in race three and 10th in race four and are now third overall.

Styles was pleased with their performance. "In the first race we went past the Aussies on the way into the finish which is always pretty good to do on their home water," he said. Although 10th was not the ideal result in race four, the British duo had slipped to 13th at one stage and did well to recover. "We had rounded the top mark in third," explained Styles, "the wind was actually swinging a lot more and we got the wrong side of a shift on the second beat which we then had to claw our way back from."

Inside the Harbour the 49er fleet made its Olympic debut with Ian Barker and Simon Hiscocks making a promising start, leading early in the first race. A switch from the light westerly gradient wind to the new sea breeze from the north-east, however, saw them parked in a hole and a certain victory in the opening race ended in 13th place. An attempt to have the race thrown out by the Britons was later dismissed by the jury. In race two Barker and Hiscocks finished fifth, again showing good speed in moderate winds, leaving them eighth overall.

Racing in the 49ers has been postponed until Wednesday following the discovery of problems with the gennakers which are decorated in the crew's national flags. Glenn Bourke, the competition manager for sailing, said it had been discovered that the process of adding paint to the sails had weakened the fabric, making them easy to tear. Bourke added that it had been decided therefore to replace all the sails with plain white ones which will be issued on Wednesday.

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