Dempsey in control as GBR enjoy Florida

British Olympic hopeful Nick Dempsey

British Olympic hopeful Nick Dempsey

Ocean Brothers at Beaulieu’s landmark 40th boating event

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The long run-in to London 2012 began this week in the warm waters off Florida.

It’s the first Olympic classes event of the year – and Team GBR sailors were well placed at the halfway point.

British sailors held seven podium positions after the first three days of racing in the 13 Olympic and Paralympic classes being contested at the Rolex Miami OCR.

Nick Dempsey was firmly in control in the RS:X men’s windsurfing fleet, with a string of bullets.

Meanwhile, Alexandra Rickham and Niki Birrell retained the yellow jerseys heading into the final two days of racing for the SKUD Paralympic class.

Dempsey’s perfect scoreline – five points from six races – has seen him extend his lead over Skandia Team GBR team-mate and training partner Elliot Carney, who is second overall.

The Athens medallist is treating the event on the waters of Biscayne Bay as a ‘training regatta’.

And although many of his international rivals have opted not to attend, he is not complacent.

‘The RS:X fleet is pretty small here but, although some of the big names are missing, there are still some good guys in there,’ said Dempsey.

‘You have to work just as hard to get the results.’

Four-time world champions Rickham and Birrell held a two-point lead over closest-rivals Daniel Fitzgibbon and Liesl Tesch from Australia.

Fellow Paralympians John Robertson, Hannah Stodel and Steve Thomas were second in the Sonars.

Meanwhile, in one of the few Team GBR classes still to be decided, Megan Pascoe was fourth in the 2.4mR class, with team-mate and rival Helena Lucas in 11th. The Laser Radial place is also up for grabs and Charlotte Dobson was holding down fifth – only one point off a bronze medal place – with rival Alison Young seventh.

Paul Goodison is just one point off of the lead in the Laser, while Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were also looking to reclaim top spot in the 470 women’s event after starting with three straight wins.

They too were one point off the overall lead, with development squad duo Sophie Weguelin and Sophie Ainsworth in third.

Luke Patience and Stuart Bithell, who recently got the nod for 2012 in the 470 men’s event, were down in 14th at the midway point.

Women’s match-racing trio Lucy Macgregor, Annie Lush and Kate Macgregor are facing tough competition to book their berth in the quarter-finals. Their goal remains to win a medal, though, when racing concludes tomorrow.

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