Dempsey let off leash to pursue Olympic dream

While most of his fellow Brits will be sweating on Olympic selection in the coming months, Norwich windsurfer Nick Dempsey has the luxury of knowing a spot at London 2012 is already all but his – and he's adamant he wouldn't have it any other way.

With each nation permitted to enter just one boat per class at next year's Games, competition is fierce within some British ranks with this month's Skandia Sail for Gold likely to determine who competes at August's Olympic test event and therefore takes pole position for a place at London 2012.

The example of the Finn class that boasts Ben Ainslie, Giles Scott and Ed Wright immediately springs to mind but the men's RS:X is the exception to the rule and Dempsey has to go abroad to make sure he is kept on his toes.

But after wife and double Olympic champion Sarah Ayton called time on her sailing career to spend more time with 18-month-old son Thomas, Dempsey has been let off the leash – and he's still got a thing or two to prove in Weymouth next month.

'I've spent most of the winter away in Perth, Miami and Brazil and I've done a few events and managed to get some podium finishes so I'm pretty happy with how it's gone so far,' said Dempsey.

'Once Sarah stopped sailing it allowed me a lot more freedom to get on with my programme and I train a lot with the Spanish, the Portuguese and the Brazilians so unfortunately I had to go over to Brazil for two months.

'For me it's great that Sarah stopped sailing. It's allowed her to be a mother and for me it allows to commit to my campaign 100 per cent – I don't have to worry about her and Thomas.

Most Read

'I don't envy the Brits who have to fight for their place in the Olympic squad at all. They do have very competitive training but that's why I go abroad to train with the foreigners.

'Sail for Gold caught me out a little bit last year, it's coming around very quickly but I'll still be looking to perform.

'It is quite early on in the summer season and I'm trying to peak for the Olympic test event and that's quite a way out.'

Dempsey, who has claimed ISAF World Cup silver and bronze in Miami and Palma this season, will still be a forced to be reckoned with at Sail for Gold regatta and he has fond memories of the Weymouth venue, having been crowned world champion there in 2009.

But having secured Olympic bronze in Athens in 2004 but then finished an agonising fourth place at Beijing 2008, Dempsey is in no doubt as to where his priorities lie.

'For me it's not really about winning Sail for Gold – it's all about winning the test event,' he added.

'Sail for Gold is more of a stepping stone but having said that it's still a big competition and so I'll be looking to perform well and get up in the top positions.

'Weymouth is a fantastic venue – it's got everything. Anything can happen on any given day so it's going to be for the all-rounder who can deal best with a range of conditions.

'The Olympic test event is my priority because there is only one event worth winning in my eyes and that is the Olympic Games.

'Everything else is a dry run or a build-up or you're doing something within that regatta to prepare for the Olympics.'

Investment specialist Skandia is the principal sponsor of the British sailing team. For more information go to www.rya.org.uk/programmes/skandiateamgbr.