Sailing: Ainslie leads a display of Olympian strength

Mike Turner
Friday 24 January 2014 05:35

Ben Ainslie has had a happy time in the clouds and rain of Skandia Life Cowes Week. Every day, the gold and silver Olympic medallist has met up with his crew at Danabena's restaurant for a cholesterol-fest breakfast, been through the list of guests for the day, and then been ferried out to a gleaming new dark-blue 70-footer, Serano, sailing under the Volvo for Life colours.

As he has use of one of their cars, this was payback for his sponsors, and he was joined by two other gold medallists with similar sets of keys, Iain Percy and Shirley Robertson. With the bronze medallist Ossie Stewart alongside him as tactician and Rodney Pattisson, who has two golds and a silver of his own, also present, there was enough metal on show to set up a blacksmiths.

Ainslie wasn't just there to give some of Volvo's guests a chance to be up close and personal with the Olympians – he won his class again yesterday having already bagged a couple of trophies: the RYS Trophy on Tuesday, the Rocking Chair on Friday.

Tomorrow it is back to the coal face in the searing heat of Athens for an Olympic trial regatta on the same courses that will be used in 2004. He is not looking forward to it. "I have been going flat out since March and am really tired," he said. Given the way Ainslie drives himself, even Superman would have been a little out of breath. His rise in just five months, first to champion of Europe and then the world in the Finn class singlehanded dinghy, has left his rivals spluttering.

This week will not see the kind of world-class line up that Ainslie beat so convincingly on the same track a couple of weeks ago. But such is his dedication to amassing detailed information that he feels he should be there, as will Robertson in the three-woman Yngling, while Percy is in Los Angeles for the Star world championship.

At least there was a solid breeze yesterday, coupled with some sun and blue sky to help wrap up a patchy week. Mike Bennett's Waverider beat everyone in the bigger boat Black Group, while Neil McKure and Keith Stewart, with six straight wins, had already sewn up the smaller boat White Group.

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