Windsurfing: Q&A with Team GB's silver medallist Nick Dempsey


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The Independent Online

Although windsurfing will not be in the next Olympics, silver medallist Nick Dempsey plans to keep going.

What was your aim for the Olympics?

My wife [Sarah Ayton, who won sailing gold at the last Olympics] said it was about the gold medals and nothing else. For me, it was about doing my best.

Is your wife your No1 fan then?

My No1 critic more like. She’ll be brutally honest to me and won’t hold back. Often it’s not that nice but that’s what you need. I know that she just wants me to do as well as I can. She’s not brutally honest to make me feel better but to make me better.

What does she do now — is she still in sailing or is she a full-time mum?

She’s a full-time mum with fingers in lots of pies. She has to be a full-time mum because, for much of the time, she has to get on with it without me.

Do you have to be quite selfish then as a parent [Dempsey is a father to two sons, Thomas, three, and Oscar, four months]?

You do have to be quite selfish but there’s a balance. I sometimes find that balance but I sometimes don’t.

Windsurfing is not in the 2016 Olympics, with kiteboarding replacing it. You described that as a “s*** decision”. Do you stand by that and does it end your career?

Definitely. It doesn’t make any sense to me. But that’s not an end to my career. I’d like to continue.

What’s so special about windsurfing then?

It’s an amazing sport. People who learn to windsurf, they’re in it for life. It never gets boring. It’s always different, amazing, exciting. It’s such a wonderful feeling when you’re ripping through the waves, feeling weightless.

How did you get into the sport?

My dad had a board and my older brothers windsurfed. I just wanted to do what my brothers did. I was seven, I think, and I was like, “can I go, can I go, can I go?” and I’ve never turned back.

What music gets you up for windsurfing?

I put on headphones and listen to something like Oasis or Biffy Clyro.

What’s your first Olympic memory?

Linford Christie in 1992. I remember watching all the bravado on the start line. You get less of that now, Usain Bolt excluded. As an athlete, my first Olympic experience was Sydney 2000. I remember seeing people getting medals and I thought, “wow, that’s where I want to be”.

If you weren’t a windsurfer, what sport would you do and would you be any good?

It would probably be golf. I used to play off 15, so I’d say I’m not very good.

SSE is a supporter of the Weymouth and Portland National Sailing Academy, helping them to generate 20 per cent of their energy through renewable sources by this summer. Visit for more information on making your home greener.