Ben Ainslie CBE
Ben Ainslie CBE
Triple Olympic gold and silver medallist
Honorary Doctor of Sport , Southampton University
ISAF World Sailor of the Year in 2008
Ben Ainslie is Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor ever!
His career in sailing began at the age of 8 with his family in Restronguet, Cornwall. Ben’s father Roddy was a proficient sailor who had skippered ‘Second Life’ in the first Whitbread Round the World Race of 1973-74. What started as a hobby quickly turned into a way of life, and by the age of 16 Ben was already Laser Radial World Champion. With the help and continuous support of both his parents, at just 19 years old Ben won his first Olympic medal – silver in the Laser class at the 1996 Atlanta Games. Four years later, again sailing the Laser, he achieved every athlete’s dream of Olympic gold at the Sydney Olympics.
After Sydney, Ben changed focus and spent fourteen months with the ‘One World Challenge’ America’s Cup campaign, but soon felt that Olympic sailing, and in particular switching classes from the Laser to the Finn Class, was what he wanted to pursue at that point in his life. The move to the Finn meant Ben had to increase his bodyweight by 15 kilos to achieve the optimum weight for the larger Finn class. This gruelling training programme paid off when in 2002, a little over a year after changing classes, Ben won the Finn World Championships. He successfully defended this world title for the following 2 years, equalling the record of three wins set by Brazilian Jorg Bruder in the early ‘70’s. In 2005 he then made history to become the most successful Finn sailor ever by winning his fourth successive Finn Gold Cup. It was gold again at the 2004 Athens Olympic Games, in the larger Finn Class.
After Athens, Ben was given the opportunity to join Emirates Team New Zealand and re-enter the Americas Cup arena. His role was as an afterguard member and ‘B-boat’ helmsman. He successfully competed on the World Match Racing Tour on behalf of Emirates Team New Zealand. After a closely fought battle, Emirates Team New Zealand lost to America’s Cup defenders Alinghi.
In 2007 Ben was back on the Olympic circuit. Straight back into the Finn and straight back to winning ways. He secured an unprecedented fifth world title, at the Finn Gold Cup in Melbourne. Ainslie already held the world record for the number of wins in this long established and legendary Finn Olympic class.
The sailing at the Beijing Olympics 2008 was held in Qingdao a notoriously tricky venue with light winds and strong tides. Ben also fell ill with mumps days before the start of his Olympic defence, however Ben showed his champion spirit to win his third consecutive Olympic gold medal. This cemented his position as Britain’s most successful Olympic sailor of all time surpassing Rodney Pattison’s record of 2 gold and 1 silver Olympic medals. Since Beijing Ben has received many awards and accolades most recently he was honoured Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the Queen’s New Year Honours List. Ben also became the only sailor ever to be crowned ISAF World Sailor of the Year three times (1999, 2002 & 2008) and British Yachtsman of the Year five times (1999, 2000, 2002, 2004, 2008).
Ben is now skipper of theBritish America’s Cup challenge, Team Origin. He was announced as their skipper in September 2007 and is fully focused on bringing back the ‘Auld Mug’ to Britain after its 158 year absence