Sixth Finn world championship win for Ben Ainslie
Ben Ainslie was confirmed as winning an unprecedented sixth Finn World Championship title in Falmouth today, but was denied the chance to finish the regatta in style, as light winds caused the final medal race to be canned.
With an unassailable 20 point lead at the JPMorgan Asset Management Finn Gold Cup, Ainslie already had the top step of the podium secured going into the final day, with Skandia Team GBR teammate Ed Wright guaranteed no worse than the silver medal.
Friday’s conditions proved to be the complete opposite to Thursday’s mammoth three-race day, held amid 25-30 knots and huge waves in Falmouth Bay. Race officials managed to get a race underway but were forced to abandon it halfway up the first leg as what little wind they had deteriorated.
The sailors waited in vain for an upturn in conditions, but at just after 13.00 the abandonment flags were raised and the fleet returned home with conditions deemed unsailable. Ainslie was confirmed as the Gold Cup winner based on the standings at the end of Thursday’s racing, with Ed Wright adding the silver medal to his 2010 world title and bronzes from 2006 and 2011.
Bronze went to Denmark’s 2009 World Champion Jonas Hoegh-Christensen, while Skandia Team GBR also had two further top ten finishers through Mark Andrews and Andrew Mills who end their regatta in seventh and eighth respectively.
"It is great. I am very happy," said Ainslie, who racked up an impressive seven race wins from the nine races held this week. “It was a shame today that there wasn't enough wind to race because we have had a fantastic week of racing down in Falmouth. I am really happy with how things have gone, it has been a great competition and now I am looking forward to the Olympics.”
The triple Olympic gold medallist admitted that of his previous Finn Gold Cup victories, this was the sweetest of them all for having won it on his home waters in Cornwall.
“This is by far and away the best because I grew up and learned to sail here in Cornwall on these waters. It has been a long time since I raced down here, probably 20 or 25 years. I am showing my age a little bit but it is great to be back in this part of the world and fantastic to win a world championship here on home waters."
Ainslie, 35, will use this Gold Cup victory to draw a line under a difficult beginning to his year following a well-reported altercation with a press boat at the previous Worlds in Perth, and having to recover from surgery on a back injury.
“Nothing else really matters apart from the Olympics so whatever has happened before - problems, issues, difficult situations - you just have to try and put them behind you,” Ainslie explained. "The most important thing is the performance at the Olympics and this is a stepping stone along that road and it was important to try and perform well here so close to the Olympics. The important thing is to keep that form going and try to find ways to improve in this final run-up to the Games."
Ed Wright, who will train with Ainslie as part of his Games preparations, was content with his silver: “It’s a shame that we didn’t manage to just get enough to have the race, but I think it was a good decision. I’m really happy for the silver – it was a fun week and great racing, and Ben sailed really well. It’s a shame I couldn’t beat him but silver’s a really good result."
Ainslie hot-foots it to RNAS Culdrose this evening to meet the Olympic Torch as it arrives into the UK, and has the honour of being the first torchbearer when the Torch sets off on its journey of the country tomorrow morning.
"That will be really exciting to take the Olympic torch for the first time on home soil,” he said. “I think it is a great moment for the country and sparks off a great period of Olympic activity."