'Ben Ainslie won his fourth Olympic Gold today in the Finn class, becoming the most successful Olympic sailor of all time'
History was made today on the Nothe course in the Finn class as Team Great Britain’s Ben Ainslie claimed his fourth Gold medal, usurping Paul Elvstrom—the Great Dane—to become the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. In addition to Ainslie’s four Golds, he also has a Silver (Atlanta, 1996 in the Laser class), bringing his total portfolio up to a staggering five Olympic medals.
While Ainslie’s start wasn’t particularly brilliant, it quickly became obvious that today’s Finn medal race was a one-on-one contest between Ainslie and Denmark’s Jonas Hogh-Christensen. Interestingly, this strategy almost backfired on the famous Brit, as there was a sliver of time when it looked as if Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) could have potentially stolen Ainslie’s Olympic limelight. Fortunately for Ainslie, a crucial windshift slowed the Dutchman as the fleet approached the finishing line.
Ultimately, Hogh-Christensen took home a proud Silver medal while France’s Jonathan Lobert claimed Bronze.
Jonas Hogh-Christensen - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition - Francois Richard ©
The spectator crowd at the Nothe absolutely erupted when Ainslie made history. Multiple English Royals were on hand to celebrate Ainslie’s victory, cheering along with the countless sailing fans.
Few of history's sailing achievements have triggered this sort of public reaction. To celebrate, Ainslie triumphantly fired-off a red flare and held the Union Jack high in front of his adoring fans.
Ben Ainslie - London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition - Francois Richard ©
Throughout these Olympic Games, the Finn class has been the story of Hogh-Christensen and Ainslie. For a time, it looked as though the Gold could have gone to Denmark, but Ainslie sailed one of the most tactically brilliant races of his life, earning Gold when it counted most.
Interestingly, the wind dropped as the day progressed. For Finn sailors, this restricted their ability to pump their sails on the downwind legs. Regardless of windspeed, Ainslie used every skill in his quiver to rock and roll his Finn from gunwhale to gunwhale, working every fraction of a knot out of his boat.
In TV interviews directly following the medal race, Ainslie refused to one-hundred percent rule-out another Olympic campaign, but admitted that Olympic Finn campaigns are 'killing his body'.
While today could likely prove to be Ainslie’s last day of Olympic racing, there’s no question that there are many chapters of Sir Ben’s sailing career still to unfold. Please stand by for more from Ainslie, as it becomes known.
by David Schmidt, Sail-World USA Editor
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1:28 PM Sun 5 Aug 2012GMT
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