sail-world.com
 
 
News Home Video Gallery Photo Gallery
Sail-World.com : Interview with Finn sailor Ben Ainslie
Interview with Finn sailor Ben Ainslie

'Ben Ainslie'    Robert Deaves/Finn Class - copyright

Ben Ainslie talks to Robert Deaves about his fifth Olympic Games and his final preparations going into what is undoubtedly the most important regatta of his life.

After winning Silver in the Laser in 1996 and Gold in 2000, Ben Ainslie moved into the Finn class and won back to back Gold medals in 2004 and 2008. Now, in 2012 Ben is on the brink of becoming the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. Currently this accolade is held by another Finn sailor, Paul Elvstrøm, who won four Olympic Gold medals from 1948 to 1960, the first in a Firefly and then three in the Finn. If Ainslie wins Gold on Sunday, 5 August, he will beat Elvstrøm's record and enter the history books yet again.

Though he is still the outright favourite to take a third Finn Gold, it will be no easy task. At 35 he is one of the oldest sailors in the Finn fleet, and sailing what could potentially be his last Olympic Games. But in this highly competitive fleet he has almost completely dominated the 2011 and 2012 seasons, notching up impressive victories at the 2011 Olympic Test Event and the 2012 Finn Gold Cup, his sixth Finn World Championship.

First we asked him what is so special about this Olympics.'Really because it's a home Olympics which makes it very special. I was in Trafalgar Square when they announced that London had won the bid for 2012, the atmosphere was electric and that’s when I decided I wanted to continue my Olympic career and be a part of it.'

Ben's profile within sailing and especially within UK sport is at an all time high. His image has been used to publicise the London 2012 Olympic Games in a way that a sailor has never been used before, and he carries the hopes of the whole nation to win the Gold.

In light of this does he regard the 2012 Olympics as the most important regatta in his life? 'It is the most important regatta in my life right now, but they were all important to get to this point. In my mind I focus on the event and what I have to do to be successful, I can't worry about anything else.'

How has his preparation differed from the 2008 campaign? 'I guess I have had more time to prepare for it, and I have had to as the home competition has been tougher and the venue is also tough strategically. The international competition is very similar to what it was four years ago, although the expected conditions are very different.'

In China Ben's coach was the former British Finn sailor Jez Fanstone, who is now Olympic manager for the New Zealand team. Ben has teamed up again with David 'Sid' Howlett for Weymouth. 'They are both very experienced. I guess Sid is slightly more so when it comes to Olympic experience, but both Sid and Jez are very professional and committed and that is what you want in a coach. I look for someone who I get on well with and who has the experience. It's also important that they share the same determination for the campaign to be successful. I should also say that I have been really fortunate to have so much help and support over the years from many different people.'

Ben Ainslie -  Robert Deaves-Finn Class_- copyright  

Some would say that Ben is lucky to race for a country that has such a high level of Finn sailing, with two other sailors who have won the World Championships in recent years and several others always near the top. While this has no doubt raised his game over the years, it is hard on the other sailors such as Edward Wright and Giles Scott, who suffer at the rules of one nation per class in the sailing at the Olympics. Does Ben think this is one rule that should be changed so that all the top sailors have the chance to sail? 'As an elitist I would say, yes, we should have all of the top sailors, but we also have to realise sailing's role in the Olympic Family. If we start excluding emerging nations in sailing then we risk our Olympic status. It is really hard on guys like Giles Scott and Ed Wright but that’s what you sign up for and you have to live and die by the results.'

'In small boats the Olympics is the pinnacle, but having said that there are some fantastic non-Olympic sailors such as Nick Craig. I'm sure if Nick had the time to train full time he could be successful in the Olympic arena but he has other commitments and I guess that's the choice you have to make. As a professional sailor the Olympics, Americas Cup, Volvo Ocean race, Jules Verne and Vendée Globe really mean something.'

After so many years campaigning a single-handed dinghy for the Olympics, does he find it a problem to keep motivating himself? 'I have always been busy trying to mix Americas Cup campaigns with Olympic campaigns. It isn't easy but it keeps you very busy and you have to focus hard on maximising the time that you have. I find that each time I come back I have a fresh approach and seem to learn more that way.'

Are the sacrifices worth the effort? 'Personally, I set a goal and I want to achieve that goal. It would be the same with anything else in life but in this instance it's the Olympics Games and in sport it doesn't get any higher than that.'
'I guess I don't really have a normal life. I live out of a suitcase and it's very hard on family and friends. Sometimes it isn't easy and I wonder what I am doing but at the end of the day it's my ambition and I am very lucky to have the opportunities and support that I have had a long the way.'

The path to Weymouth was paved with incidents, some of which Ben would prefer to forget. Aside from the media boat incident in Perth and the operation on his back over the winter, what was been the hardest part about the campaign this time around for him? 'It has probably been adapting to the physicality of the free pumping. It requires a lot of fitness and technique. It is also a benefit for the taller guys.'

As far as gear selection goes, Ben has been playing around with a Wilke built Finn for a while in addition to campaigning his 2004/2008 Gold medal winning Devoti hull. Ben claims to have gone through about four hulls, six masts, about 150 sails in his 10 years in the class. Is there a performance advantage with the Devoti he has used?'The [Devoti] boat was very well built by Tim Tavinor and the fact that it is still going strong eight years on is testament to that. It is different to a standard boat and I guess it gives me the confidence that if I sail well then I am competitive.'

'But it has been a good project working with Wilke on the hulls and masts. It was good to go through the development process and work out what was reality and what the opportunities are. We are still working on the equipment and probably won't make a final call until just prior to the Games.'

Ben Ainslie -  Robert Deaves-Finn Class_- copyright  
Like all British athletes and sailors, there is going to immense domestic interest from the public and the media which can only increase the pressure on the competitors. Can you prepare for that? 'I think the crowds will be an inspiration rather than a distraction. The media are always there and you have to deal with that.' What about the controversial Nothe course area? 'I think in any breeze from the east to south-west it will be fine. Outside of that wind range I hope they will race elsewhere.'

Will there be any more Finn sailing for Ben Ainslie after these Olympics? 'I honestly don't know. After the Games I will focus on the America's Cup and then see how things develop. I have loved sailing the Finn but it will depend what my objectives are.' And his thoughts on the Olympics in general? 'ISAF need to consolidate the classes. There are too many classes and there is no room for two sets of men's and women's high performance classes. Ultimately, in time, we need to switch to more exciting classes.'

Ben wouldn’t be drawn on picking favourites for the medals. 'It's such an open class, I would say any of the top 12 guys could win a medal.'

And finally, what is he most looking forward over the next few weeks? 'After so much preparation I just can't wait to get on with the racing.'

The first races are scheduled for this Sunday at 12.00, with the opening race on the much feared Nothe course area with 4,500 people watching, before moving to one of the offshore courses for the second race.

This is the last of the Finn sailor profiles before the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition commences this weekend.

Finn Class website


by Robert Deaves

  

Click on the FB Like link to post this story to your FB wall

http://www.sail-world.com/index.cfm?nid=100175

6:04 AM Thu 26 Jul 2012GMT


Click here for printer friendly version
Click here to send us feedback or comments about this story.







News - USA and the World

America's Cup: de Ridder penalty should be tempered *Feature by Richard Gladwell/Sail-World.com/nz, Auckland, NZ


















2014 Halifax – Saint-Pierre Ocean Race by Patricia Nelder, Nova Scotia














Image Gallery: Stratis SL33 flies on the Waitemata by Richard Gladwell,Sail-world.com/nz,


Audi Melges 20- Sperry Topsider Charleston Race Week - Light final day by International Audi Melges 20 Class Association,
















America's Cup: Gino Morrelli outlines the new AC62 design by Kimball Livingston - Blue Planet Times, San Francisco, USA
















Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week - Day 2
Audi Melges 20 Charleston Race Week - Perfect conditions in Charleston
Oyster Regatta Antigua - Full on ocean conditions for day 3
PWA World Tour - A taste of things to come at La Torche + Video
Women's International Match Racing Series kicks off in June
Melges 32 Audi Tron Sailing Series - Action shots by Max Ranchi
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Frustrating conditions
Man rescued after falling overboard in Pacific taken to hospital
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2014 - Youth leading Melges 20
Congressional Cup - Canfield leads toward Congressional Cup sailoffs
Sperry Top-Sider Charleston Race Week 2014 - Perfection for Day 1
America's Cup: Coutts claims ISAF Jury on a crusade, backs Kiwi report *Feature
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Will light winds hamper progress?
Les Voiles de St. Barth - Preparing to rock Saint Barthélemy waters
Clipper Round the World Race - OneDLL and Qingdao now in San Francisco
America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ up against funding hurdle for year *Feature
Melges 32 Sailing Series Napoli - Day 1 images by Stefano Gattini
50th Congressional Cup: View the Live racing here
Melges 32 Sailing Series - Napoli action shots by Max Ranchi
Volvo Ocean Race - Team Alvimedica launch new boat
Emirates Team NZ: Royals duke it out on the Waitemata   
2014 Charleston Race Week - Thousands of sailors descend on Charleston   
The Congressional Cup 2014 - Williams hangs on with a classy crowd   
50th Congressional Cup: View the Live racing here   
RORC Transatlantic Race - Notice of Race now available   
Oyster Regatta Antigua - Sunshine and smiles on day 2   
Rolex China Sea Race on the horizon   
What can a boat name tell you about the person behind the helm?   
Clipper Round the World Yacht Race - Race 10 rumbles on   
SAP 5O5 World Championship - Kiel action starts August 13th   
Volvo Ocean Race - It's a family Affair   
Clipper Round the World Race - Great Britain claims line honours   
50th Anniversary Congressional Cup - Stage two   
America's Cup: Two Kiwis escape hometown action in AC45 rules ruckus *Feature   
America's Cup: Italians confirm Minoprio as Match race tactician   
J-Fest gets much needed charge   
Melges 32 Sailing Series - All set for Naples action   
Oyster Regatta Antigua - Spectacular conditions on day 1   
Clipper Round the World Race - Bitter blow as OneDLL is disqualified   
Clipper Round the World Race - Race 10 still anyone's for the taking   


For this week's complete news stories select    Last 7 Days
   Search All News
For last month's complete news stories select    Last 30 Days
   Archive News







Sail-World.com  


















Switch Default Region to:

Social Media

Asia

Australia

Canada

Europe

New Zealand

United Kingdom


http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/Twitter_logo_small.png http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/FaceBook-icon.png  http://www.sail-world.com/event_images/image/RSS-Icon.png

United States

Cruising Northern

Cruising Southern

MarineBusiness World

PowerBoat World

FishingBoating World

 

Contact

Commercial

News

Search

Contact Us

Advertisers Information

Submit news/events

Search Stories/Text

Feedback

Advertisers Directory

Newsletter Archive

Photo Gallery

 

Banner Advertising Details

Newsletter Subscribe

Video Gallery

Policies

 

 

 

Privacy Policy

 

 


Cookie Policy

 

 



This site and its contents are © Copyright TetraMedia and/or the original author, photographer etc. All Rights Reserved.  Photographs are copyright by law.  If you wish to use or buy a photograph contact the photographer directly.
XLXL NEW US