FACE TO FACE WITH BEN AINSLIE

PHOTOS COURTESY OF LAND ROVER

He began to sail alone at 8 years old, in Cornovoglia, next to his home. At 16 he was already world’s champion on Laser Radial and at 19 he won the first olympic silver medal at the Olympic Game in Atlanta. Four years later, he has realized the dream of every athlete winning the olympic gold medal at the Olympic Game in Sydney. A complete and deeply focused athlete with a British savoir-faire: Sir Ben Ainslie is one who goes fast, who knows what he wants and likes to win. After all, the adrenaline of regatta races runs in his veins for a long time since his father, Roddy, was a sailor too who has raced the Volvo Ocean Race (once called Whitbread Round the World Race). Next step? The America’s Cup that will be held at the end of May in Bermuda for which he is assiduously working on with his team Land Rover Bar focused on an ambitious objective: to bring the cup home. When he is on the mainland, he drives a Range Rover Sport, but as the best modern gentlemen, he has an Aston Martin in garage for the playdays.

When did you start love the ocean and sailing? And why do you like this particular sport so much?
I grew up in Cornwell which is the far South West of the UK – and a place where the sea and sailing is a part of the everyday life. The first time I went sailing on my own was in an optimist dinghy – which slightly resembles a bath tub but it’s what all young people learn to sail in – I was 8 years old and my Dad pushed me out on my own and the sensation of feeling the water running under the boat and being on my own and in sole control of a craft was an amazing exhilarating feeling and sense of freedom – and that sparked my love for the sport and the ocean.

When you are not racing, what kind of sports do you like?
Sports I like include Formula 1, golf, cycling and football but I like watching any competitive sport to be honest.

How is one of your normal day if you don’t have training?
My normal day if we don’t have training – is to spend time with my wife, Georgie, and baby daughter, Bellatrix who is now 5 months old, and enjoy being at home. But, I do also still have to do some training – and it’s actually easier to do some physical training when we aren’t with the team cos there is sometimes more time. I also like reading – many different types of books in my down time.

You and your team are working on the next America’s Cup, what is the challenge this time? How is it important for you?
It’s a massive challenge, it’s obviously very hard to win the Cup particularly at the first attempt – only one other team has done this in the history of the Cup – so our goal is to achieve that. It means a lot for us being a British team – with the first event being held around the Isle of Wight back in 1851 and we have never won it or seen the Cup since so that’s what really drives us to try and bring the Cup home.

Have you ever feel fear when you are out sailing?
These boats that we are sailing [foiling AC45s and America’s Cup Class boats] are clearly incredibly fast – and to sail them fast you are constantly sailing right on the limit which means that you certainly have to be very aware of the potential dangers and have a lot of respect for the power of these boats. It’s fair to say when you are sailing one of these boats, you are only focused on one thing.

 Back in 2013, you began Sir, from then how do you keep the balance between Sir Ben Ainslie and “Ben Ainslie the Olympic winner”?
I think like all people when you grow older and mature you naturally change slightly, for me getting married and starting a family and being in a position of founding a sports team and a business I’ve naturally had to change my approach to some things. I guess the great thing about sailing as a sport is once you are on the water and you are competing there is only one way to approach that – the race – and it’s to try and win. But when you are back on land that character has to change slightly.

What is in your opinion that makes a man a gentleman?
I think having respect for everybody, and good manners, in my book are what’s really important.

How important is having your own style (in habits, fashion, etc.)?
Well, it is very important for one’s persona I guess, to feel like you are an individual with your own style and way of doing things. I think fashion changes as time moves on – that’s inevitable – and an individual’s taste will change as they mature – which again, is inevitable – but the great thing is that it is all an evolution and it never stays still.

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