occasions but it does feel different this time around. How are you preparing for the Olympic Games in the summer?
I spend over 30 hours a week training, that includes 5 days of between 3-6 hours on the water and 4 days of 2hours in the gym. I also have a routine of massage and recovery as sailing is very strenuous on the back and neck.
How much of sailing is physical and how much is mental ability, strength and endurance?
In the Finn Class the fitness can be up to 80% of the actual overall result, we work very hard on that, we have fitness trainers, nutritionists, physiologists, it’s a big programme that we have within the Royal Yachting Association Olympic Squad and personally I work with a trainer who’s with me most of the time both acting as a physio and also as a trainer in the gym.
What made you want to start sailing at the age of eight? Did you aim for the top or did you take it one step at a time?
I got into sailing with my family and by going down my local sailing club in Cornwall, they had organised race nights which were competitive but also good fun. I had no idea this would happen, I wouldn’t have dreamt I would get the opportunity and be going for a fourth gold, hopefully I can make the most of this once in a lifetime opportunity.
Do you have any advice for young sailors starting out in the sport?
Try to experience as much of the sport as possible to get a rounded view of what’s out there, make the most of any advice and coaching you can get. And be good at swimming!
What was your personal best moment of your sailing career so far?
All the Olympics have been pretty special if I had to pick one then the Olympic gold medal from Sydney stands out. It was my first gold and I was involved in an intense battle with a Brazilian sailing legend, Robert Scheidt. It went right down to the last race of the event and I match raced Robert to win. It was a special moment!
What was the biggest setback you have had when you have been trying to reach the podium?
At the moment I have just had back surgery for a long standing back injury due to the repetitive hiking on the boat. My vertebrae was
being tilted so it was pushing the discs out and actually affecting the nerves. It was just about bearable, it can very quickly become where you can’t even walk. With the Olympics in the summer, every day counts, I talked with the team over whether operating was the right route to go down this close to the Games. With all the risks involved and the rehab time, it was really the only option. The operation was a success and I’m now 3 weeks into Re-hab and confident I will be back to 100% by the start of April.
Any scary or dangerous moments at sea?
I sailed with Richard Branson on his Virgin Money Superyacht, when he attempted to break the transatlantic record a couple of years ago – we nearly dismasted mid Race in big wave conditions and ended up abandoning the attempt – it was pretty full on!
Do you have a motto, or a recipe for success?
Preparation. If that’s not right then I don’t feel comfortable performing on the water. Who and what inspires you?
There are lots of people inside and outside the sport who are inspiring. Within sailing Paul Elvström has been an inspiration to a lot of sailors in my generation for what he did back in the 50’s and 60’s and Russell Coutts is another for his achievements within the America Cup. So in sailing terms, those two are great role models and to people like myself. Outside of sailing for any Olympic athlete Sir Steve Redgrave is a huge inspiration to come back and win gold five times consecutively was exceptional.
What do you enjoy doing aside from sailing? What do you do to relax?
I’m currently learning to fly which has been a great distraction, you can really take your mind away from everything else as you have to focus on it so that’s pretty cool. I’m enjoying that!
Ben still harbours Americas Cup ambitions and in January 2012 he announced the launch of a his new team BAR that will initially compete in the next edition of the America’s Cup World Series, Ben will then join ORACLE Racing for the defence of the 34th America’s Cup. The Life Begins team wish Ben ‘Good Luck’ at the Olympics.
Ben Ainslie training in Mallorca in March, 2012.
J.P. Morgan Asset Management is the title sponsor of Ben Ainslie's Olympic campaign. Visit to www.facebook.com/benainslie1977
for updates or show your support for Ben and his boat Rita on twitter #benandrita
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