GB's Yngling crew storms to success
Sarah Ayton has announced she is to retire with immediate effect, ending her quest for an historic third Olympic title at the London 2012 Games.
Ayton triumphed in the Yngling class in 2004 and 2008 before having a child with husband and Olympic windsurfing bronze medallist Nick Dempsey.
"To succeed at the highest level as an Olympic athlete you have to be pretty single-minded," said the 30-year-old.
"That's something that just doesn't sit happily when you're a mum as well."
Ayton stood to become the first British woman to win three consecutive Olympic gold medals.
She began her 2012 campaign in April 2010, nine months after giving birth to first son Thomas, and was sailing with Skandia Team GBR in the two-person 470 class with Beijing Olympian Saskia Clark.
But the demands of Olympic classes sailing and motherhood have proved a relentless juggling act which left her drained and unhappy.
"Winning gold is what Olympic sailing is all about, so working towards 2012 and feeling like I can't give it my full attention has made me question why I am doing it, especially when it involves missing out on important time with Thomas," explained Ayton.
London 2012 will be an amazing thing for our country - I really hope that I can be involved in one way or another
"Full engagement is what makes the difference between being average and being great, in Olympic sport or whatever aspect of life.
"I am really looking forward to focusing my time and energy on Thomas, who is now 19 months old and into everything, and to supporting Nick, who is working harder than ever on his own Olympic campaign, so that he has the best possible chance of winning gold in 2012.
"My sailing career has always been about the Olympics and I remain passionate and excited about London 2012, so I hope there will be lots of other ways to remain involved over the next 18 months in the build-up."
Ayton is upset that her decision not to pursue a third gold medal in London impacts on Clark.
"I've really enjoyed sailing with Saskia Clark, who is a fantastic talent," she stated. "I'm upset to be letting her down, but I know she's got 2012 firmly in her sights and is looking carefully at her options.
"I owe both Saskia and our coach Joe Glanfield huge thanks for the time and effort they have put into our programme.
It's disappointing to be losing someone of Sarah's calibre and track record from our programme, especially at this stage of the cycle when she and Saskia had been progressing well towards their goals with our help and support
RYA Olympic manager Stephen Park
"There are so many people who have helped me over my 12 years of Olympic sailing, from the people I've sailed with and been coached by, to the RYA and all the experts within Skandia Team GBR."
Ayton does, however, remain excited about the prospect of an Olympic Games on home soil.
"London 2012 will be an amazing thing for our country - literally a once in a lifetime event which will excite and inspire, and I hope everyone will get behind it," she added.
"Although I won't be there competing, I really hope that I can be involved in one way or another."
Royal Yachting Association Olympic manager Stephen Park said: "It's disappointing to be losing someone of Sarah's calibre and track record from our programme, especially at this stage of the cycle when she and Saskia had been progressing well towards their goals with our help and support.
"As Sarah knows only too well, a successful Olympic campaign is a full-time commitment requiring absolute dedication - there can be no half measures.
"Ultimately this decision is a personal one that only she can make, and it's an understandable one in light of her family situation.
"We're all sorry to see her hang up her sailing boots, but with London 2012 drawing ever closer I'm sure her knowledge and expertise will be put to good use off the water."