Sailing: Ainslie on brink of completing his renaissance

Six days after being plunged into the depths of despair with his disqualification from the second race of the Olympic regatta, Ben Ainslie is poised to complete a remarkable comeback and claim Britain's second sailing gold medal of the Games today.

The 27-year-old Finn sailor's performances since the Frenchman Guillaume Florent successfully claimed, to Ainslie's disgust, that the Briton had illegally blocked his path, have been awesome. Ainslie, who was placed 19th in the 25-strong field after the first day (he had finished only ninth in the first race), has subsequently posted four victories, two second places, a third and a fourth. In today's final race he needs only to finish in the top 15 to add a Finn gold to the silver and gold he won in the Laser class in Atlanta and Sydney respectively.

With Nick Rogers and Joe Glanfield also assured of at least silver today in the 470 class - they can take the gold if they finish four places ahead of the Americans Paul Foerster and Kevin Burnham in their final race - and others still in contention or yet to start their campaigns, Athens is already developing into another major success story for British sailing as the team build on the Yngling gold won by Shirley Robertson's crew on Thursday.

While Britain has traditionally enjoyed sailing success in the Olympics, having won more golds than any other nation, the last two Games have taken on a new dimension. Even the Sydney haul of three golds and two silvers could be bettered here.

Lottery funding, which provides an annual grant of £1.3m, has been a key factor, but the experience of some less successful British teams here has shown that the way the money is spent is what counts. Indeed Stephen Park, Britain's Olympic sailing manager, is quick to counter any suggestion that his team, who have a £2m annual budget, have bought their way to the top.

"We're certainly within the top six in terms of funding, but most of the other big nations have similar budgets," Park said. "They're all within 10 per cent of each other. At this level it's all about maximising the money that you've got available. It's something that we do particularly well and I think we do better than some of the other teams here.

"We're really conscious that all the money that comes from the Lottery is public money, from out of the public's back pockets. Every time we spend some money, before we do anything we ask: 'Is it going to make a medal-winning difference?'

"At any time, if any member of the public came and asked me about a specific issue then I would be able to give them a specific reply and explain why we felt it was a way of helping us get closer to the medals."

Britain were the first nation to set up base here, sharing facilities with the Eona Yacht Club, situated just one kilometre from the Olympic marina. They have also rented a house for three years, enabling the British crews to train regularly in the waters of the Saronic Gulf. "We try to provide one or two creature comforts, even if it's just a question of a good stock of Tetley teabags," Park added.

Twenty thousand bottles of sports drinks were shipped out from London, a British chef prepares the team's food and a BBC feed enables Eastenders addicts not to feel homsesick.

British meteorologists, meanwhile, have been working on the project for four years, and have spent an increasing amount of time in Athens as the Games approached.

"We've been looking at Met Office data over a 10-year period, trying to help us understand what's going on with the wind and to recognise the patterns," Park said. "It's a very difficult task, but as with anywhere, the more time you spend working on it the better you understand the conditions. And at the end of the day, the race conditions so far have been exactly as we expected them."

If the flow of success does eventually slow down, it will not be for want or attention to detail that puts some of Britain's other sports to shame. "We've already started working on our preparations for Beijing in 2008," Park said. "We realise we've got to start work earlier and get ahead of the game and ahead of the rivals. We'll certainly change things around next time and make further refinements. We'll hope to raise the bar again."

Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
News
Details of the self-cleaning coating were published last night in the journal Science
science
News
Approved Food sell products past their sell-by dates at discounted prices
i100
News
Life-changing: Simone de Beauvoir in 1947, two years before she wrote 'The Second Sex', credited as the starting point of second wave feminism
peopleHer seminal feminist polemic, The Second Sex, has been published in short-form to mark International Women's Day
News
i100
Arts and Entertainment
The beat is on: Alfred Doda, Gjevat Kelmendi and Orli Shuka in ‘Hyena’
filmReview: Hyena takes corruption and sleaziness to a truly epic level
Caption competition
Caption competition
Latest stories from i100
Have you tried new the Independent Digital Edition apps?
Daily Quiz
Independent Dating
and  

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

Day In a Page

Homeless Veterans campaign: Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after £300,000 gift from Lloyds Bank

Homeless Veterans campaign

Donations hit record-breaking £1m target after huge gift from Lloyds Bank
Flight MH370 a year on: Lost without a trace – but the search goes on

Lost without a trace

But, a year on, the search continues for Flight MH370
Germany's spymasters left red-faced after thieves break into brand new secret service HQ and steal taps

Germany's spy HQ springs a leak

Thieves break into new €1.5bn complex... to steal taps
International Women's Day 2015: Celebrating the whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Whirlwind wit of Simone de Beauvoir

Simone de Beauvoir's seminal feminist polemic, 'The Second Sex', has been published in short-form for International Women's Day
Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Mark Zuckerberg’s hiring policy might suit him – but it wouldn’t work for me

Why would I want to employ someone I’d be happy to have as my boss, asks Simon Kelner
Confessions of a planespotter: With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent

Confessions of a planespotter

With three Britons under arrest in the UAE, the perils have never been more apparent. Sam Masters explains the appeal
Russia's gulag museum 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities

Russia's gulag museum

Ministry of Culture-run site 'makes no mention' of Stalin's atrocities
The big fresh food con: Alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay

The big fresh food con

Joanna Blythman reveals the alarming truth behind the chocolate muffin that won't decay
Virginia Ironside was my landlady: What is it like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7?

Virginia Ironside was my landlady

Tim Willis reveals what it's like to live with an agony aunt on call 24/7
Paris Fashion Week 2015: The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp

Paris Fashion Week 2015

The wit and wisdom of Manish Arora's exercise in high camp
8 best workout DVDs

8 best workout DVDs

If your 'New Year new you' regime hasn’t lasted beyond February, why not try working out from home?
Paul Scholes column: I don't believe Jonny Evans was spitting at Papiss Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible

Paul Scholes column

I don't believe Evans was spitting at Cissé. It was a reflex. But what the Newcastle striker did next was horrible
Miguel Layun interview: From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

From the Azteca to Vicarage Road with a million followers

Miguel Layun is a star in Mexico where he was criticised for leaving to join Watford. But he says he sees the bigger picture
Frank Warren column: Amir Khan ready to meet winner of Floyd Mayweather v Manny Pacquiao

Khan ready to meet winner of Mayweather v Pacquiao

The Bolton fighter is unlikely to take on Kell Brook with two superstar opponents on the horizon, says Frank Warren
War with Isis: Iraq's government fights to win back Tikrit from militants - but then what?

Baghdad fights to win back Tikrit from Isis – but then what?

Patrick Cockburn reports from Kirkuk on a conflict which sectarianism has made intractable