What did the World’s top two have to say after an epic week and heart stopping race
They have been locked in a battle on and off the water since the going got tough last week, but after the end of a nerve wracking medal race the Gold and Silver Finn medallists congratulated each other on the slipway. Given that the world’s lenses were trained on the pair as they came ashore, you may not be surprised.
So what did they say once they got ashore?
“I can’t really believe it. This event’s been really hard. Today I’ve never sailed in such a nerve wracking race in my life with those winds as they were.
“Jonas sailed one of the best series I’ve ever seen and he pushed me all the way, so all credit to him. There was nothing left in me to get back into the points, so it was an amazing series by him and PJ Postma.
“I had done a bit of tuning up before the race, so I was reasonably confident of the right hand side paying. At the start I was trying to get into Jonas, but he did a pretty good job of sailing round and round the committee boat so that was a bit boring – but a good tactic.
“I got out to the right hand side and it worked, just. But it is a fine line sailing in those conditions. It could have gone either way, but it went my way and I made it work.
How did he feel about the pressure that had built before the event?
“It was hard because of the expectations going in to the event were so high and no matter how many times I said that it wasn’t necessarily the case, people kept pushing. When I started off on the back foot people were upset that I wasn’t winning and that’s hard as a competitor but that the nature of the position I was in and I just had to fight back.
Had he used a sports psychologist during the event?
“I’ve just been doing it a long time and have been through at lot of scrapes in my career and come through most of them and thankfully come through this one.”
“I don’t really have that much time before I’m off to San Francisco for the America’s Cup with the new British team BAR and the AC World Series but it’s going to take me a while to get over this.”
Was this the end of his Olympic career?
“It would be impossible to ever experience anything better than this so there would need to be a very good reason to come back. [Would his body hold out?] “I doubt it, not in a Finn.”
Having denied himself so much in his campaign, what was he looking forward to most?
“Actually this sounds a bit bizarre, but not stuffing my face full of food 24/7. It would be quite nice just to have a normal diet.”
“The one person who deserves some kind of recognition is my coach David Howlett because he’s been with me through all of this and with Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson and so many other sailors. He’s been involved with four Gold medals as a coach.”
“It was a tough race, I knew he was going to come for me in the start. He did. I got him a round the committee boat and put myself in a pretty good spot. I baled when I wanted to and good a pretty good start.
“Then I wanted to send him right and keep going to the right, unfortunately the right came in. Once I was behind I took some chances to try and beat him and nearly succeeded on the last beat.
“I did what I wanted to do and I thought that my plan would help me succeed but it didn’t work but I think I sailed very well all week. I’ve sailed from the front all week and was hoping I’d do that this time.
“But he did well today, congrats to him. We said congratulations to each other down on the ramp.
“There is no doubt that he is the best sailor in modern times and I’m glad I could give him a run for the money. We ended up on equal points and he ended up winning on the smallest margin possible. I’m happy with that. Of course I’d like to have been on top.”
So having come back into the Finn would he continue?
“I think my Olympic sailing days are over, but maybe I’ll do some other sailing.”
Having admitted to taking his frustration out on his tiller extension, how had this end of the boat held up?
“My tiller extension’s still there! Normally when I break a tiller extension it’s when I’m mad at myself but there weren’t too many reasons for that this week. There were a couple of places where I could have gained a few points by not capsizing or hitting the committee boat but that’s a part of racing.
“Unfortunately it wasn’t my day today and Ben sailed a great race. But I’ve enjoyed it immensely and it’s been a lot of fun.”
So with fellow Dane Paul Elvstrom’s record now broken, how did he feel Ainslie and Elvstrom compared?
“It’s hard because they are about 50 years apart. Paul’s record is great, he won World championships in fifteen different classes besides his four Olympic classes which is a great achievement. But the thing about Paul is his sportsmanship and what he put back into sailing. A lot of the things that we use today the ratchet block and half the things that we use on a modern boat he invented. Therefore he had a tremendous influence on the sport.
“There is no doubt that Ben is the best sailor in the world right now. In that sense you can compare the two and I think that what Ben has done today is a great achievement and should be applauded.”