Close to the Wind, by Ben Ainslie
Sunday 13 September 2009
In most sporting contests the plan is to win, but in Ben Ainslie's most memorable race he made no attempt to do so, finishing halfway down the Laser fleet in the final race at the Sydney Olympics.
The method in this apparent madness was that, due to the scoring system, his best chance of claiming gold was to smother the chances of his nearest rival, Brazilian Robert Scheidt.
Mission accomplished (just), he won further golds at Athens 2004 and Beijing 2008, but he starts his autobiography with a blow-by-blow account of that Sydney confrontation. Rightly so, because it encapsulates his personality: pleasant and unassuming off the water, ruthless on it.
There are no great revelations here, unless you count the fact that Olympics Minister Tessa Jowell insists on calling him "Matthew" every time they meet, but it's an interesting self-portrait.
Ainslie plans to compete at the 2012 Olympics (when he will be 35) and, as skipper of the TeamOrigin challenge, yearns to wrest the America's Cup back for Britain. It's been 158 years but with Ainslie at the helm, don't bet against it.
Published in hardback by Yellow Jersey, £18.99
Music Why this music festival is still the place to spot the next big thing
Film review Michael Glatze biopic isn't about a self-hating gay man gone straight
Arts & Ents blogs
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
Disney's mega money-making formula: 'Human' remakes of cartoon classics are part of a lucrative, long-term creative plan
Jeremy Clarkson courted by Russian Ministry of Defence TV station to present motoring show
One Direction fans campaign to buy the band after Zayn Malik quits
Zayn Malik already working on solo material, just days after quitting One Direction
Fifty Shades of Grey movie shows first sex scene 'after 40 minutes'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest