British helmsman Sir Ben Ainslie is the most decorated sailor in Olympic history. He won medals in five consecutive Olympic Games from 1996 onwards, including four golds in back-to-back Olympic Games between 2000 and 2012 (Sydney, Athens, Beijing and London).

Ben Ainslie started sailing at the age of eight and entered his first competitive race at ten. At only 12 he competed in his first international competition in 1989 at the Optimist World Championship held in Japan.

His first Olympics were the 1996 Atlanta Games aged 19. He took home a Silver medal in the Laser men’s singlehander, having been beaten by Brazilian sailor Robert Scheidt in a tough tactical race.

Ainslie won his first Gold in the Sydney 2000 Olympics, also in the Laser class, this time beating Scheidt in a rematch.

He moved to the larger ‘heavyweight’ Finn class in 2004 for the Athens Olympics, where he won Gold again. He would repeat this winning formula at Qingdao (Beijing 2008) and London 2012, racing in Weymouth.

In honour of his Olympic success Ainslie was chosen to be the first person to carry the Olympic torch in the UK in the run up to the London Olympics in 2012.

Ben Ainslie has been involved with the America’s Cup since 2005 when he joined Team New Zealand as their tactician in the run up to the 32nd America’s Cup. He stepped back from this role however to focus on improving his own skills as a helmsman and moved to the team’s “B” boat which was used for practice.

Sir Ben has been involved with several teams competing in the America’s cup such as Team Origin and Oracle Team USA.

In 2012 he formed Ben Ainslie Racing (later renamed INEOS Team UK) to compete in the 35th America’s Cup. They had success in the 2015-16 America’s Cup World Series but were knocked out of the 2017 Louis Vuitton Challenger’s Trophy in the semi finals.

Ainslie’s team returned for the 36th America’s Cup, raced in AC75s, in 2021. Despite a shaky start, Ainslie’s Britannia saw success in the Prada Cup, making it to the finals in 2021, the furthest any British team had made it in the competition since the introduction of the challenger selection series. However, in the finals INEOS Team UK lost the 2021 Prada Cup to the Italian Challengers Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli.

The AC75 name Britannia incorporates the name Rita, as all Ainslie’s boats are called Rita.

Sir Ben Ainslie was made a Knight Bachelor in 2013 for his services to sailing.

Ainslie is married to Georgie Ainslie (nee Thompson), a TV sports presenter. The couple have two children.

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