Ainslie claims third gold and targets 2012 glory

An historic third consecutive gold medal for Ben Ainslie and a double for the golden girls Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb, with new crew Pippa Wilson, had flags flying and hardy supporters cheering on the shore of a wet and windy Yellow Sea yesterday.

Ainslie was majestic as he destroyed the opposition to lead the 10 Finn singlehanders through the finish line. After having the gold in his grasp before what would have been the clinching race on Saturday was aborted, he was in his element as the wind blew at its strongest in the regatta so far. He needed only loose control of his nearest challenger, Zach Railey of the United States, and led at every mark.

In Germany, home of his girlfriend Annette Fiedler, Ainslie has been dubbed the James Bond of world sailing. Among the judges and umpires who run the game around the world he is known simply as "the governor". In the boat park he is simply the best dinghy sailor in the world.

Yesterday Ben, like a star Brazilian footballer instantly recognised everywhere by the single name, consolidated his status as a living legend when he became Britain's greatest-ever Olympic sailor, eclipsing the two golds and a silver of Rodney Pattisson from 1968 to 1976.

Ainslie had come close to a fourth gold at his first try when, at 19 in 1996 in the Laser dinghy, he first made people sit up but was suckered into silver by a mistake that gave the Brazilian Robert Scheidt the gold. He had his revenge four years later, in Sydney, when he blocked and bullied Scheidt out of all gold medal hope in their final race. The watching band of media grizzlies have never forgotten it. This was a champion at his most destructive.

Since then he has matured and matured. He is as much in tune with his boat, the wind and the waves as any musician with an instrument or mathematician with numbers.

Endless hours have been spent by rivals analysing his technique. What they cannot analyse is his natural feel for what to do next. By the time they realise there is a decision to be made, Ben has already made it.

At that Sydney regatta he saw an old friend and rival, Iain Percy, similarly bemuse his rivals in the heavier Finn singlehanded dinghy and take gold. When Percy moved on to the Star two-man keelboat Ainslie stepped up with authority.

Now Ainslie, who is also skipper of a British challenge for the America's Cup, can also look forward to a fifth Olympic campaign. This one will be made more special because it will be contested in Britain on waters he knows well, off Weymouth as part of London 2012. "It would be amazing to be racing in home waters in 2012," he said. "It would be a dream come true." He already has both an MBE and an OBE. What next? Must he wait until another victory at home before he hears "Arise, Sir Ben"?

Ayton, Webb and Wilson – the "three blondes in a boat" – pulverised the only team that could beat them, the Dutch trio of Mandy Mulder, Annemeike Bes and Merel Witteveen.

"We can't describe what we have been through these last four years and two for Pippa," Ayton said. "Winning a second Olympic gold medal is absolutely awesome and we're all overwhelmed, to be honest." After being helped from their boat by British team members, the first to come and congratulate them were the Dutch silver medallists.

Barely had the Sarahs won their first gold with Shirley Robertson in 2004 than they decided to put their own campaign together. That led to Robertson retaliating with a new crew. But the immensely talented Ayton swept her old skipper aside. Relations remain strained, but, with the addition of Wilson, they have gone on to do the same to the rest of the world.

Yesterday the British team had complete composure after their race, scheduled for 24 hours earlier, had been delayed by light winds. Their coach, Paul Brotherton, helped pick the right sail combination, and they established control of the Dutch on the first leg.

Today sees the medal shoot-out for the 470 dinghies, already sewn up by Australia's Nathan Wilmot and Malcolm Page, but Britain's Nick Rogers are in a shout against the Dutch and the French for a medal. Christina Bassadone and Saskia Clark are in the top 10.

Paul Goodison is back at the top of the Lasers with his medal race due tomorrow. His woman counterpart, Penny Clark, is eighth.

Ayton's fiancé, Nick Dempsey, slipped to fourth after a poor 17th yesterday in the windsurfing, but the top four are tight and he can still equal his Athens bronze in Wednesday's medal race. Britain's woman windsurfer, Bryony Shaw, is sixth.

i100 In this video, the late actor Leonard Nimoy explains how he decided to use the gesture for his character
Arts and Entertainment
Secrets of JK Rowling's Harry Potter workings have been revealed in a new bibliography
arts + ents
Robert De Niro has walked off the set of Edge of Darkness
news The Godfather Part II actor has an estimated wealth of over $200m
Arts and Entertainment
Fearne Cotton is leaving Radio 1 after a decade
radio The popular DJ is leaving for 'family and new adventures'
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating

By clicking 'Search' you
are agreeing to our
Terms of Use.

Day In a Page

HIV pill: Scientists hail discovery of 'game-changer' that cuts the risk of infection among gay men by 86%

Scientists hail daily pill that protects against HIV infection

Breakthrough in battle against global scourge – but will the NHS pay for it?
How we must adjust our lifestyles to nature: Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch

Time to play God

Welcome to the 'Anthropocene', the human epoch where we may need to redefine nature itself
MacGyver returns, but with a difference: Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman

MacGyver returns, but with a difference

Handyman hero of classic 1980s TV series to be recast as a woman
Tunnel renaissance: Why cities are hiding roads down in the ground

Tunnel renaissance

Why cities are hiding roads underground
'Backstreet Boys - Show 'Em What You're Made Of': An affectionate look at five middle-aged men

Boys to men

The Backstreet Boys might be middle-aged, married and have dodgy knees, but a heartfelt documentary reveals they’re not going gently into pop’s good night
Crufts 2015: Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?

Crufts 2015

Should foreign dogs be allowed to compete?
10 best projectors

How to make your home cinema more cinematic: 10 best projectors

Want to recreate the big-screen experience in your sitting room? IndyBest sizes up gadgets to form your film-watching
Manchester City 1 Barcelona 2 player ratings: Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man?

Manchester City vs Barcelona player ratings

Luis Suarez? Lionel Messi? Joe Hart? Who was the star man at the Etihad?
Arsenal vs Monaco: Monaco - the making of Gunners' manager Arsene Wenger

Monaco: the making of Wenger

Jack Pitt-Brooke speaks to former players and learns the Frenchman’s man-management has always been one of his best skills
Cricket World Cup 2015: Chris Gayle - the West Indies' enigma lives up to his reputation

Chris Gayle: The West Indies' enigma

Some said the game's eternal rebel was washed up. As ever, he proved he writes the scripts by producing a blistering World Cup innings
In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare and murky loyalties prevails

In Ukraine a dark world of hybrid warfare

This war in the shadows has been going on since the fall of Mr Yanukovych
'Birdman' and 'Bullets Over Broadway': Homage or plagiarism?

Homage or plagiarism?

'Birdman' shares much DNA with Woody Allen's 'Bullets Over Broadway'
Broadchurch ends as damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

A damp squib not even David Tennant can revive

Broadchurch, Series 2 finale, review
A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower: inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

Inside the mansion of Germany's 'Bishop of Bling'

A Koi carp breeding pond, wall-mounted iPads and a bathroom with a 'wellness' shower