Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) and Nick Dempsey (GBR) secure the first sailing medals of the Rio Olympics with gold and silver in the men's RS:X class
The first sailing medals of the 2016 Olympic Games have been decided, without the final medal races in the men’s RS:X windsurfing even being sailed.
Defending Olympic champion Dorian van Rijsselberghe (NED) is now unbeatable for the gold medal, with Nick Dempsey (GBR) having won the silver medal. The first and second places have been confirmed even before applying the results from the double scoring Medal Race, which will take place on Sunday, because of the points difference that has opened up between the pair and their nearest rivals – van Rijsselberghe is on 23 points, Dempsey on 44.
The situation is a carbon copy repeat of London 2012 when the Dutchman took gold ahead of the Briton four years ago. The result is subject to protest, and both sailors will still have to sail the Medal Race, but van Rijsselberghe and Dempsey were already congratulating each other after crossing the finish line of the 12th race of their series.
These two athletes have dominated the Olympic competition, with van Rijsselberghe winning seven of the 12 races, including two today, and Dempsey winning three. Sunday’s battle for bronze will still be close fought between Poland, France and Greece.
Dempsey, who is competing at his fifth Olympics, commented after racing: “I feel very happy to have won a silver medal. It’s cool, it’s amazing. It’s nice to have had a good spell at the top and be competitive over five Olympic Games. I’m pretty proud of that.
“A year ago I finished nowhere near the podium and I knew I had a lot of work to do. The last 12 months have gone really well and I’ve worked really hard. It was nice to come here with a chance of a medal and silver is awesome. I can do what I want in the medal race! It’s a little parade and it will be the last race of my career.
“Today it was a case of trying to keep in touch. Dorian came straight out and won the first and second race, he’s rocking in those conditions. He won it today rather than me losing it. He should be very happy. It’s been an amazing week.”
Reshuffling the packs
There were eight Olympic classes racing today. In the women’s RS:X windsurfing the 10 places for Sunday’s medal race have been decided, but just three points separate the top three sailors, making for a much tighter final with no medals decided.
British duos won in both the men’s and women’s 470s today, each sailing one race. Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark now lead the women’s fleet ahead of the Japanese duo of Ai Kondo Yoshida and Miho Yoshioka. Meanwhile in the men’s fleet today’s win went to the British duo of Luke Patience and Chris Grube, who have now moved into third overall. The leading Croatian pair Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic continue to have the edge over Australians Mat Belcher and Will Ryan, who have closed to 2 points behind.
The skiff classes made their debut with few surprises in the men’s fleet – pre-event favourites Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) scoring two straight wins to take an early lead. The women’s 49erFX class is more open, with the Canadian duo currently leading thanks to a consistent 5,4 opening day. Local heroine Martine Grael won the second race of the day with Kahena Kunze (BRA) to lie second overall.
Two races were held for the Laser one-designs, with the Croatian sailor Tonci Stipanović scoring a 28th he will need to discard to hang onto his overall lead from Robert Scheidt, who had a strong day with a 4,5 to close in second overall. Tom Burton (AUS) is in third, and Nick Thompson (GBR) in fourth.
There’s been a reshuffle in the Laser Radials, with Anne-Marie Rindom (DEN) pulling into the lead after a 4, 6 scorline today, from Marin Boumeester (NED). Annalise Murphy (IRL) drops to third after all after picking up an 18th and 12th place. The outstanding performance of the day was Manami Doi (JPN), who scored a 1st and 2nd.
On site reporting courtesy of Andy Rice/World Sailing and Imogen Stanley/RYA Team GBR
See full results at http://www.sailing.org/olympics/rio2016/results_centre.php