Are Ben Ainslie and Michel Desjoyeaux the greatest talents of our times?


Um, where was I? What have I missed while I was up the mountains in Ireland? (And, incidentally, thanks to everyone who emailed me; I’m getting there…)

Farr 40 Worlds. Yeah, well. Delete. Loch Ness Monster Race? No monster, no story. Not so much, actually.

However, two stories really did leap out of the email inbox – two sailing geniuses, to be precise. One is the great Ben Ainslie, who got back into a Finn after a year of America’s Cup sailing and deftly slayed the opposition at the Olympic test event in Qingdao.

The other is Michel Desjoyeaux. ‘Le Professeur’, like Ainslie, is one of the greatest sailors of our times and proved it conclusively by winning a windy and extremely testing Figaro race and then going on to thrash the likes of Loïck Peyron, Vincent Riou and Franck Cammas in the champion-of-champions Trophée Clairefontaine regatta (pictured above by Jean-Marie Liot).

Both men have sharpened their talent in very different arenas and demonstrated staggering versatility. The Olympic opposition must be viewing Ainslie with despair. Likewise all the old and new talents grunting up for next year’s Vendée Globe. Mich Des is the maestro.