Byline: Associated Press/Bernie Wilson
LONDON (AP) — Four-time Olympic Gold medalist Ben Ainslie of Britain says he is retiring from Olympic sailing in order to try and end his nation’s long drought in the America’s Cup.
Ainslie’s decision wasn’t a surprise. While he said he wanted to take some time after winning the Gold medal in the Finn class at the London Olympics, he’s already sailed in two America’s Cup World Series regattas with his Ben Ainslie Racing team, finishing second in one of them.
The 35-year-old Ainslie became the most successful Olympic sailor ever when he won his fourth straight Gold medal at Weymouth in August. He also won a silver medal at Atlanta in 1996 in his first Olympics.
“When I look back, there are so many special memories; from that first medal in Atlanta 16 years ago to carrying the flag at the closing ceremony in London 2012,” Ainslie said in a statement. “London was an incredibly special Olympics, competing on home waters and in front of a home crowd — I don’t think anything will be able to top that experience. But you have to move forward, and it is time to move onto the next challenge in my career.”
Now, his racing will shift to bigger, faster boats.
He will skipper his 45-foot wing-sailed catamaran in the remaining regattas in the America’s Cup World Series and then will sail with defending America’s Cup champion Oracle Team USA in the 34th America’s Cup on San Francisco Bay in 2013. Ainslie’s goal is to then launch a British challenge for the 35th America’s Cup.
Britain has never won the America’s Cup, which began in 1851 when the schooner America beat a fleet of British ships around the Isle of Wight. — Bernie Wilson