Sailing: Ainslie wins third Finn world championship in row
Saturday 21 February 2004
The man who just cannot get enough of winning was sitting on top of the world again last night. Ben Ainslie had sailed his way to a third consecutive world championship in the Finn Gold Cup as Rio de Janeiro wound itself up for the world's biggest carnival.
Ainslie had already had a low-key celebration for his birthday earlier in the month and was in no mood for triumphalism in a year when his sights are set on a third Olympic medal. He took silver in the smaller, singlehanded dinghy, the Laser, in 1996 and added gold in 2000. Since moving up to the heavier Finn class he has never been beaten in a major regatta and success yesterday brought his running career total to seven world championships and seven European championships.
The 27-year old from Lymington has only held the 2003 world championship title for five months, as last year's event was staged in Cadiz in September. He has trained throughout the winter and had been in Brazil for a fortnight before the start of the nine-race regatta there.
In the tricky weather conditions Ainslie knew that a good enough result would put him in an unbeatable position going out for the final day with a comfortable margin over the 1996 gold medallist, Mateusz Kusznierewicz, of Poland.
He was ninth in the eighth race - enough to give him the title, though he was still keen to complete the series despite being urged to leave the field clear for those chasing the other medals. "I am really glad to have made it a hat-trick," he said. "It is a great confidence booster in the run-up to the Games."
David Howlett added: "It is very satisfying to coach such prodigious talent. We are looking forward to the Olympics, but there is still a lot to do."
With the current gold medallist, Iain Percy, having moved across to the two-man Star keelboat, hopes are high that Britain will retain its dominance of one of the most physically demanding Olympic classes.
Ainslie's programme now takes him to the Princess Sofia regatta in Spain next month and then on to the French Olympic regatta at Hyères in April. June and July will be spent training in Athens, for which Ainslie was selected after winning in Cadiz.
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