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Sir Ben Ainslie
Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie in 2014.jpg
Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie in 2014
Personal information
Nationality  Great Britain
Born 5 February 1977 (1977-02-05) (age 44)
Macclesfield, Cheshire, England
Sailing career
Class(es) Finn, Laser

Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie, CBE (born 5 February 1977) is an English competitive sailor.

Ainslie is one of the most successful sailors in Olympic history. He won medals at five consecutive Olympics from 1996 onwards, including gold at the four Games held between 2000 and 2012.

He is one of three athletes to win medals in five different Olympic Games in sailing, being 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.

Early life

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. Ben's elder sister, Fleur, is married to Jerome Pels, secretary general of the International Sailing Federation (ISAF). Ainslie was educated at two independent schools: at the Terra Nova School in a rural area near the village of Holmes Chapel in Cheshire in north west England, and Truro School in the city of Truro, Cornwall, followed by Peter Symonds Sixth Form, Winchester, Hampshire.


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

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


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 displayed at the National Maritime Museum Cornwall.

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. He was selected on 11 August 2012 to carry the flag for the Great Britain team at the London 2012 Olympics closing ceremony.

World Championship

World Championships titles

  • 1st 1993 Laser Radial World Championships
  • 1st 1995 IYRU Youth Sailing World Championships in Hamilton, Bermuda.
  • 1st 1998 Laser World Championships
  • 1st 1999 Laser World Championships
  • 1st 2002 Finn World Championships
  • 1st 2003 ISAF Sailing World Championships which effectively is the Finn World Championships
  • 1st 2004 Finn World Championships
  • 1st 2005 Finn World Championships
  • 1st 2008 Finn World Championships
  • 1st 2010 ISAF Open Match Racing World Championship
  • 1st 2012 Finn World Championships

Other World Championships results

  • 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.

Other significant results

  • 4th (2010): Team Origin – TP52 Audi Medcup
  • 1st (1993): Laser Radial European Championship, Greece

America's Cup

Sir Charles Benedict Ainslie with fans in 2014
Sir Ben Ainslie with fans in 2014
  • One World Challenge – Seattle Yacht Club
  • Team New Zealand – Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron

At the beginning of 2005 Ainslie 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.

  • Team Origin – Royal Thames Yacht Club

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.

  • Oracle Team USA – Golden Gate Yacht Club

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

  • Ben Ainslie Racing – Royal Yacht Squadron Racing Ltd

In January 2012, Ben Ainslie announced the formation of a team to compete in the America's Cup, called Ben Ainslie Racing (BAR). His team competed in the AC45 class of the 2011–13 America's Cup World Series, 2014 Extreme Sailing Series and set a multihull record for the Round the Island Race. The team won the 2015–16 America's Cup World Series and is preparing for the 2017 America's Cup.

In February 2017 Ainslie talked about the America's Cup and looked back on his Olympic success, "It hasn’t all been glory..There have been a few bumps down the road. But yes, I’m not very good at not achieving the goals I set out."

World Match Racing Tour

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

The Extreme Sailing Series

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.

Personal life

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 Chelsea.

In August 2014, Ainslie was one of 200 public figures who were signatories to a letter to The Guardian expressing their hope that Scotland would vote to remain part of the United Kingdom in September's referendum on that issue.

On 20 December 2014, Ainslie married former Sky Sports News presenter Georgie Thompson. The couple's first child, a daughter named Bellatrix, was born on 16 July 2016.

Awards and honours

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