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Sail-World.com : London Olympics 2012 - Ainslie in fear of being banned

London Olympics 2012 - Ainslie in fear of being banned

'Ben Ainslie lets fly at the media boat as he enters the boat harbour Fremantle - ISAF World Sailing Championships'    Robert Deaves/Finn Class©

If Ben Ainslie needed any greater motivation in his quest to strike gold at his home Olympics, then the television camera crew who cost him a world championship in Perth before Christmas may just have provided it.

The man who has been Olympic champion three times and is widely regarded as the best sailor in the world admits that he is still furious at the incident which, even now, could cost him his place at the Olympic regatta.

Ainslie, 35 on Saturday, will not discover whether he is to be robbed of the chance to go for his fourth Olympic gold on the water at Weymouth until a Royal Yacht Association inquiry to be held by the end of next month rules on the incident in Australia, when Ainslie swam from his Finn class vessel to board a TV camera boat and remonstrate with the crew because he believed they had impeded him.

The RYA have the power to ban Ainslie from the Olympics, although a reprimand and fine are thought more likely.

Even so, Ainslie admits to harbouring fears over the outcome.

He said: 'I hope everyone will consider what I've done in sailing, that I apologised and that a probable world title was taken away from me. But until the matter is officially closed it's always a worry.

'What happened with that TV crew had happened all year, and at Perth it became the worst situation I'd ever known in sailing. It tipped me over the edge. I just lost it. The alarm bells rang the moment I stepped on to their boat. A voice in my head said: 'What the hell are you doing? You shouldn't be on this boat.' That's why I was on and off in just a few seconds.

Ben Ainslie - J.P. Morgan Asset Management Finn Gold Cup 2012 -  © Jesus Renedo?nid=93386  
'I accept that I let myself down. But losing that world title really ****** me off. It was the worst moment of my career. What was equally disappointing was the response in certain quarters. I didn't expect the character assassination. I've apologised, the TV crew have also apologised, I've lost a world title, but I hope that's the end of it and we can all move on.

'When you're down you discover who gives you a good kick and who provides the hand to lift you back up. It has been a very difficult time for me. I have to go back a long way in my life to match such testing times. I'll admit I've slept better than in the past few weeks.'

Ainslie's passion for sailing began when he was just eight. It was Christmas Day and he awoke to discover a small, wooden Optimist boat rigged up and sitting in his room, after his parents had bought it for £100 from a friend.

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