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Last Updated: Saturday, 21 August, 2004, 18:24 GMT 19:24 UK
Ainslie sets sights even higher
By Andrew Fraser
BBC Sport in Athens

Ben Ainslie won sailing's Finn class

Ben Ainslie has stripped off for a calendar to help raise funds to train Britain's Olympic sailing stars of the future.

The Royal Yachting Association's racy yet tasteful 2005 publication, which also features Ainslie's fellow gold medallist Shirley Robertson, will be released next month.

And if the British team keeps winning medals at this rate, the RYA may have to think about increasing its print run.

Ainslie completed his stunning comeback on the waters of the Saronic gulf by clinching victory in the Finn class on a day when GB sailors were presented with two golds and one silver medal.

Robertson, Sarah Ayton and Sarah Webb did not even turn up for their final Yngling race after finishing top of the class with one race to spare.

Instead they chilled out at a health spa to make sure they looked their best for the medal ceremony.

And although Joe Glanfield and Nick Rogers could not complete a golden treble, their 470 silver was the icing on the cake as Britain's sailors made it three medals from three events.

With a host of other chances still to come, they are well on course to beat their haul of three golds and two silvers from Sydney in 2000.

"We are a very good team. We support each other very well all the way through, from the sailors to the back-up staff," said Ainslie.

"We are well funded by the government and personal sponsors. Nothing is left to chance, and everything is run smoothly.

The long-term dream is to be involved with a British challenge for the America's Cup
Ben Ainslie

"It is just up to the sailors to go out and get results, and I'm glad it is starting to come together for us."

Ainslie admitted watching rower Matthew Pinsent's dramatic victory as part of the men's four helped gee him up before his final race.

But while Pinsent and his colleagues were saluted by hordes of cheering British fans, Ainslie had just a few of his team-mates and assorted members of the world's media to welcome him ashore.

With the action taking place well out to sea, sailing is not a good spectator sport for land lovers.

When it comes to boosting Britain's medal tally, however, Ainslie always seems to deliver.

His two golds and a silver make him Britain's joint most successful Olympic sailor, alongside Rodney Pattison.

And the 27-year-old from Lymington in Hampshire admitted his comeback after suffering a controversial disqualification on the opening day ranked among his finest achievements.

Since moving to the Finn class after winning Laser gold in Sydney, a switch which required him to put on 15kg in weight, Ainslie has won three successive world championships.

The most recent of those came in February, even though he was suffering from glandular fever.

He will head to Auckland in December for a new challenge as he links up with Team New Zealand for their America's Cup campaign.

"The long-term dream is to be involved with a British challenge for the America's Cup that is going to be successful," said Ainslie.

"That would be a dream for all British sailors and hopefully it will be a reality one day.

"I'd love to be at the Olympics in Beijing if it's possible.

"I would probably have to compete in the Finn class because I'm too fat for the Laser and it would take too long to get used to anything else."





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