Ben Ainslie

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Sir Ben Ainslie
Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie in 2014.jpg
Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie in 2014
Personal information
Full name Charles Benedict Ainslie
Nationality  Great Britain
Born (1977-02-05) 5 February 1977 (age 38)
Macclesfield, Cheshire, England, UK
Sport Sailing
Class(es) Finn, Laser

Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie, CBE (born 5 February 1977), best known as Ben Ainslie, is an English competitive sailor. The most successful sailor in Olympic history, Ainslie won medals at five consecutive Olympics from 1996-2012, including gold at the last four.[1][2]

He was the first person to win medals in five different Olympic Games in sailing, the third person to win five Olympic medals in that sport (after Torben Grael and Robert Scheidt) and also the second to win four gold medals, after Paul Elvstrøm.[2][3][4]

Early life[edit]

Ainslie was born in Macclesfield, England to Roderick and Sue Ainslie. Roderick captained a boat that took part in the first Whitbread Round The World Race in 1973.[5] Ben's elder sister, Fleur, is married to Jerome Pels, secretary general of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF).[5]

Ainslie attended Truro and Terra Nova Schools. Ainslie later attended Peter Symonds Sixth Form college, Winchester.[6]


Ainslie learned to sail at Restronguet Creek near Falmouth, Cornwall.[7]

He started sailing at the age of eight and first competed at the age of ten.[8] His first international competition was aged twelve at the 1989 Optimist world championships held in Japan where he placed 73rd.[citation needed]


Ainslie won silver at the 1996 Olympic Games and gold in the 2000 Summer Olympics in the Laser class. He gained some 18 kilograms (40 lb; 2 st 12 lb) and moved to the larger Finn class for the 2004 Summer Olympics, where he won gold, a feat he repeated in the 2008 and 2012 competitions. Both his gold medal winning Laser and Finn dinghies are currently[when?] at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

World Championship[edit]

World Championships Titles[edit]

Other World Championships Results[edit]

73rd 1989 Optimist World Championships held in Japan
109th 1991 Optimist World Championships held in Greece
37th 1992 Optimist World Championships held in Argentina
2nd 1994 IYRU Youth Sailing World Championships in Marathon
43rd 1994 Laser World Championship
21st 1995 Laser World Championship
3rd 1996 Laser World Championship
3rd 1997 Laser World Championship
3rd 2000 Laser World Championship
3rd 2009 Etchells World Championships
11th 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships which effectively is the Finn World Championship

At the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships he was in a winning position going into the closing stages of the regatta but was disqualified under rule 69 (gross misconduct) for physically threatening a photographer. Ainslie felt the photographer's boat's wake had prevented him from passing a competitor.[10]

Other significant results[edit]

America's Cup[edit]

Sir Ben Ainslie with fans in 2014

* 1st Team – One World Challenge – Seattle Yacht Club

At the beginning of 2005 he worked in the role of Tactician in the New Zealand-based Team New Zealand who were preparing to compete in the challenger selection process to win the right to Challenge for the 32nd America's Cup. In May 2005 Ainslie took the decision to relinquish the role of tactician and focus on improving his Match Racing skills as helmsman of the 'B' boat used to practise and tune the race boat helmed by Dean Barker.

Ainslie figureheaded a British challenge for the Cup alongside Sir Keith Mills the team was named Team Origin. However this challenge withdrew without competing following a period of discussion regarding the future format of the event.

On 10 January 2012, Ainslie Racing was formally announced, figure-headed by Ben with the support of Grant Simmers. It will compete in the remaining AC45 America's Cup World Series events. The team was underwritten by the American defender Oracle Racing, with whom he has close links. The team's aim is to help prepare the defender for competition and to hopefully provide the building blocks for a British challenge to the 35th America's Cup. The recent world series event in San Francisco, finishing on 7 October, Ainslie and his team finished second overall in the fleet racing after leading the competition with a podium finish every race except for the final one. In this he tied on points with team Oracle USA Spithill after the final race, however Spithill was awarded the win due to winning the last race of the regatta, in which Ainslie had had his worst result of the event, 4th, after an infringement on the start line. In the match racing however he was knocked out in the quarter finals.[11]

Ainslie was put in as tactician, a replacement for John Kostecki during an Oracle practice session on 11 September 2013.[12] On 12 September, the following day, he replaced Kostecki going into race six of the 2013 America's Cup.[13] His Oracle Team USA beat Team New Zealand in the America's Cup decider in San Francisco on 25 September.[14]

World Match Racing Tour[edit]

In December 2010, Ainslie finished in first place in the World Match Racing Tour, and is the 2010 ISAF Match Racing Champion.[citation needed]

Ben Ainslie Racing[edit]

In December 2013,[15] Ainslie formed Ben Ainslie Racing Ltd, for the purpose of enabling a British team to compete in the next America's Cup race. In January 2014 Ainslie publicly announced his project, which to be delivered would need to raise £100M, backed initially by 12 core supporters including Sir Charles Dunstone and Sir Keith Mills.[16] In December 2014 Ben Ainslie Racing and Red Bull Advanced Technologies (RBAT) announced that they would work together on the America's Cup project, with Formula One designer Adrian Newey leading RBAT's efforts regarding design and engineering.[17]

Camber Dock[edit]

In April 2014, as part of the launch of Rear Admiral Rob Stevens Transforming Solent report, which makes 36 recommendations with 15 prioritised at an investment cost of £91M, Ainslie announced plans to build a team headquarters within the River Solent area.[18] Having reviewed a number of sites, the project put forward plans to develop an operational building at Camber Dock, as part of the wider redevelopment of Portsmouth Harbour. The team administration building is scheduled for construction on East Street, Portsmouth, subject to planning permission.[19] On 18 June, Portsmouth Council approved plans for the £12M main operations building, which Ainslie confirmed would be built subject to £8M of requested UK Government-backed development funding.[20]

On 1 July 2014, in a meeting with Prime Minister David Cameron, central government funding of £7.5M towards the operational buildings construction was confirmed, with construction reliant on final planning permission from the council and the project raising the additional required funds.[21] The operational building is also where the boat will be designed, and provide full crew development facilities. Final approval from the council is schedule for 15 July 2014, with the building currently[when?] planned to be completed by May 2015.[21]

Extreme Sailing Series[edit]

In January 2014, it was announced that Ainslie would compete in the 2014 Extreme Sailing Series as part of his preparation for the America's Cup. The eight-race event will see him compete in a 40 feet (12 m) multi-hull boat.[22]

Personal life[edit]

Ainslie lives in Lymington, and belongs to the Royal Lymington Yacht Club. He is coached by David Howlett, who raced a Finn dinghy at the 1976 Summer Olympics. He supports Queens Park Rangers [5]

Ainslie married former Sky Sports News presenter Georgie Thompson on 20 December 2014.[23]

In August 2014, Ainslie was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian opposing Scottish independence in the run-up to September's referendum on that issue.[24]

Awards and honours[edit]

Insignia of Knight Bachelor

He was appointed Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) in the 2001 New Year Honours after his success in Sydney and Officer of the Order of the British Empire (OBE) in the 2005 New Year Honours following the Athens Games.[25][26] He was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in the 2009 New Year Honours following the Beijing Games[27] and was created a Knight Bachelor in the 2013 New Year Honours for services to sailing.[28][29] Ainslie won the International Sailing Federation top Award more times than anyone else being named ISAF World Sailor of the Year in 1998, 2002, 2008, and 2012. He was also nominated in 2004 and 2011.

Ainslie was awarded the title of British Yachtsman of the Year in 1995, 1999, 2000 and 2002. He was nominated for BBC Sports Personality of the Year in 2012 and 2013.[30]

On 19 May 2012, Ainslie became the first person to carry the Olympic torch in the UK. Starting the 70-day tour of the United Kingdom at Land's End, he was the first of 8,000 torch carriers, passing the flame to 18-year-old Cornish surfer Tassy Swallow.[31]

His gold medal at the 2012 Olympics was presented by two Royal former Olympians, Princess Anne and King Constantine of Greece. He was selected on 11 August 2012 to carry the flag for the Great Britain team at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony.[32]


  1. ^ "Ainslie's ambition: Sailing hero takes on America's Cup challenge". CNN; retrieved 24 September 2012
  2. ^ a b Morris, Steven (5 August 2012). "Ben Ainslie wins his fourth Olympic gold medal for Great Britain". The Guardian. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  3. ^ McEvoy, Jonathan (5 August 2012). "London 2012 Olympics: Sailing – Ben Ainslie wins gold". Mail Online. Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  4. ^ "Ben Ainslie wins fourth Olympics sailing gold medal". Retrieved 5 August 2012. 
  5. ^ a b c Elaine Bunting (5 August 2012). "20 things about Ben Ainslie". Retrieved 10 August 2012. 
  6. ^ "Ben Ainslie profile at". Sailor Biography. ISAF UK. Retrieved 17 August 2008. 
  7. ^ Steven Morris (18 May 2012). "Ben Ainslie's Olympic torch run sets course for London Games". The Guardian. 
  8. ^ "About Ben". Retrieved 6 November 2011. 
  9. ^ Finn World Website Press Release,; accessed 11 April 2014.
  10. ^ "Ben Ainslie disqualified from World Championships after TV row". The Guardian. 10 December 2011. Retrieved 10 December 2011. 
  11. ^ "Ben Ainslie's impressive performance at the America's Cup looks set to guarantee his place in 2013 edition". Telegraph. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  12. ^ Ben Ainslie. "Ainslie in tactician's role for practice session". Retrieved 11 September 2013. 
  13. ^ "Ben Ainslie Steers America's Cup Comeback",; retrieved 24 September 2013.
  14. ^ "Ben Ainslie's USA beat Team New Zealand in decider". BBC Sport. 26 September 2013. Retrieved 26 September 2013. 
  15. ^ "Ben Ainslie Racing (Holdings) Ltd, Company Registration No.: 08820071". Companies House. 18 December 2013. 
  16. ^ Ben Morris (14 February 2014). "Olympic sailor looking for $100m". BBC News. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  17. ^ "Ben Ainslie and Adrian Newey join forces in America’s Cup bid". 4 December 2014. Retrieved 3 January 2015. 
  18. ^ "America's Cup HQ bid part of Solent recovery plan". BBC News. 15 April 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  19. ^ "Sir Ben Ainslie confirms America's Cup HQ Solent plan". BBC News. 10 May 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  20. ^ "Sir Ben's America's Cup Portsmouth HQ plans approved". BBC News. 18 June 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  21. ^ a b "Sir Ben Ainslie: America's Cup Portsmouth HQ gets £7.5m". 1 July 2014. Retrieved 1 July 2014. 
  22. ^ Ben Ainslie Racing
  23. ^ Template:Cite
  24. ^ "Celebrities' open letter to Scotland – full text and list of signatories | Politics". 2014-08-07. Retrieved 2014-08-26. 
  25. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 56070. p. 13. 30 December 2000. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
  26. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 57509. p. 9. 31 December 2004. Retrieved 22 August 2008.
  27. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 58929. p. 7. 31 December 2008.
  28. ^ The London Gazette: (Supplement) no. 60367. p. 2. 29 December 2012.
  29. ^ "Knights Bachelor". Cabinet Office. 29 December 2012. Retrieved 29 December 2012. 
  30. ^ BBC Sport: Bradley Wiggins wins BBC Sports Personality of the Year; accessed 17 December 2012.
  31. ^ "Ben Ainslie Starts the Torch Relay". The BBC. 19 May 2012. Retrieved 19 May 2012. 
  32. ^ "Ben Ainslie to carry British flag at Olympics closing ceremony". BBC Sport. 10 August 2012. Retrieved 10 August 2012. 

External links[edit]