Ben Ainslie: Close to the Wind: Autobiography of Britain's Greatest Olympic Sailor
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Having a sailing career since he was eight, Ben Ainslie, the 2008 Olympic gold medalist, has won eight World and European Championships, been crowned ISAF World Sailor of the Year twice, and won British Yachtsman of the Year four times.
Ayton, Chris Draper, Nick Dempsey, Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield, who all secured youth world championship medals. A great man. In more recent years, Jim has been a global coach, passing on his expertise and helping undeveloped countries at youth world championships. As I have said already, you only race Optimists until you are 15. In my last year in that class, 1992, I won the UK Optimist national championships. Then I moved into the Laser Radial class, which is similar to the Laser, but has a
‘probably the best thing that could have happened to you’. Deep down, I knew that I still had a lot to learn, and a long way to go. After being disqualified in that finale, I had stayed out to watch the race take place. Robert Scheidt had no need to do so. He sailed straight back in, because he knew he’d won, regardless. I couldn’t even be certain that the silver was mine. If the Norwegian competitor, Peer Moberg, had done really well, he could have relegated me to the bronze position, and the
55,in 2008. I crewed for Chris in three match-racing regattas during 1996 and 1997,two of which we won and in the other we were last. I guess that was Chris. When he was on fire, he was undoubtedly one of the best sailors in the world. The trick was getting the best out of his complex character but I am grateful I had the chance to sail with him. Anyway, the four of us met, and talked about a way to go forward. We agreed that Ian Walker would go and meet Peter Harrison to discuss plans further.
what was wrong with me. That was really tough; trying to push myself through this really heavy fitness programme, while feeling very low from a very debilitating condition. I somehow battled my way through the world championships, and managed to win them. I had to come back to the UK to see a doctor. My condition was diagnosed as glandular fever. I’ve never really got over it one hundred per cent. I still suffer from its effects occasionally. At the time, it meant that I couldn’t do any training
at Barcelona ’92 . It was a great attraction for me to work with him. Meanwhile I had qualified for the Athens Games at the world championships in Cadiz. That October, Grant Dalton rang me to see if I was still interested in his proposal. I said I was. We talked about money. He also said that Dean Barker was due to take part in a match-racing event out in Bermuda – one of the big five regattas of the year – and did I want to go out and crew for him in a four-man boat? I agreed, went out there,