Ainslie hopes to have inspired a sailing generation

Ainslie hopes to have inspired a sailing generation

Ainslie hopes to have inspired a sailing generation

First published in Sport

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie hopes he can use his success to get more people into sailing.

Yesterday the 35-year-old replaced Denmark's legendary Paul Elvstrom as the most successful sailor in Games history.

Ainslie overcame the eight-time Olympian's countryman Jonas Hogh-Christensen to top the Finn class podium and hopes it can help inspire a new generation of sailors.

"I think the biggest misconception with sailing is that it is an elitist sport," he said.

"There are so many clubs around the country, not even on the coast but on lakes and reservoirs, and they all have initiatives to get kids into sailing.

"The RYA (Royal Yachting Association) have a load of initiatives for all the clubs so if you rock up to your local club, you'll find it is a lot easier than you think to get into the sport.

"And it is great because at the grass-roots level of the sport it is really inclusive, a lot of fun and a real family sport for kids and parents and you can take it as far as you want.

"I am going to have to go away and think about that but, yeah, we should do something to get more people into the sport and really make the most of the opportunity we've got with sailing being one of our top sports."

Ainslie admits it is "very unlikely" he will get in the Finn again after what looks set to be his last Games, but he hopes that wider sailing success for Great Britain will follow.

"We're very good at Olympic sailing," he said.

"We have been good at single-handed offshore sailing in the past and it would be nice if we could branch out into offshore sailing, the America's Cup, other types of racing and be successful in that.

"The America's Cup is the next goal. I have a new team, BAR (Ben Ainslie Racing), and also sailing with ORACLE Team USA in the America's Cup next year.

"Rio [de Janeiro 2016 Olympics] is way too far ahead [to think about]. It can never get any better than this so whether I'd want to go through it, I don't know."

There is talk that Ainslie's CBE could be followed up by a knighthood for his Olympic achievements.

The sailor himself, though, was keen for his coach to take the plaudits.

"In regards to honours and those sorts of things, the one person that should actually be mentioned is my coach, David Howlett," Ainslie said.

"This is his fourth gold medal as a coach and he has been involved in numerous other challenges.

"I think if anyone should be getting the plaudits, it is him."

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