Just one day after attending the funeral of a very close and dear friend, Sir Ben Ainslie, the most thriving Olympic sailor in Britain, broke Round the Island’s record. In 2 hours and 52 minutes, Ainslie and his team sailed round the Isle of Wight on their 45ft catamaran of America’s Cup. They outdid the previous record by cutting off over 16 minutes. This was a huge emotional achievement for Ainslie after losing his best friend and Olympic sailing colleague Andrew Simpson.
Simpson, gold medallist in the 2008 Beijing Olympics, died during the training for the America’s Cup on May 9, when the catamaran he was on board capsized.
Ainslie affirmed that Simpson would have cherished the triumph. In commemoration, the crew and Ainslie displayed Simpson’s name on their tee shirts whilst their ship, JP Morgan BAR, sailed away from the town of Cowes, on the Isle of Wight.
With over 1,500 yachts and near 16,000 competitors in the race, Ainslie won his 5th Olympic medal in waters he was very familiar with. For the first time, the 3 hour limit for the 50 mile race was beaten and, after 12 years, Ainslie crushed the established record by Francis Joyon.
Ainslie felt blessed and happy about the race and its sailing conditions. His main goal was to come back in one piece. He stated that, although the boats were fast, they required experienced sailors that could manoeuvre the boat without much difficulty since it was impossible to relax as the power of those boats could never be turned off.
This victory topped the remarkable year that the 36year-old has experienced. Last summer during London’s Olympics, Ainslie gained his record-buster fourth gold medal and was named in the New Year Honours. However, this accomplishment had also a gloomy hint as it took place a day after the memorial of his friend Andrew Simpson.Moreover, in the monohull fleet, Mike Slade cut off, with his 100ft ICAP Leopard, nearly 10 minutes off the previous record established by Ainslie in 2008.