Ben Ainslie becomes first sailor to be awarded the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year three times

British Finn star and triple Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie (31) has received the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Award for a record three times. He was awarded last night (11 November) at a glittering ceremony at the Quinta de Jarama, Madrid. Italy’s veteran Olympic windsurfer Alessandra Sensini was named female world sailor of the year – after clinching her fourth straight Olympic medal in China this summer.

The Skandia Team GBR trio of Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb and Pippa Wilson were in the running for the female award after their dominant display in the Yngling class over the past year in which they won the World and European titles before claiming Olympic gold for Team GB in Beijing. Great Britain’s World Match Racing Champion Ian Williams was also shortlisted for the men’s prize.

Ainslie, who won the prestigious award in 1998 and 2002, remains unbeaten in the Finn class since 2004, and during the award nomination period he won Grade 1 events in Sydney and Melbourne, the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma and the European title as well as clinching an unprecedented fifth world title at the Finn Gold Cup.

By securing Olympic gold in Qingdao, Ainslie became the greatest ever British Olympic sailor with three golds from the past three Games to add to his silver from the 1996 Olympics in Atlanta.

On receiving his award, Ainslie commented: “I would like to give a big thank you from my heart to everyone who made this happen. China was a massive challenge,” he added. “It was a huge relief to come away with the gold medal, and to be part of a great British team which did so well, not just in sailing but across the board.”