Ainslie plays part in historic America's Cup victory
September 25, 2013 21:48 pm
Sir Ben Ainslie called the tactics as Oracle Team USA completed one of sport's most improbable and stunning comebacks to win the America's Cup in San Francisco.
The Auld Mug, the oldest trophy in international sport, is sailing's most famous trophy and Ainslie's role in the victory further cements his status as a legend of his sport.
With four Olympic golds and a silver, Ainslie is already sailing's most decorated Olympian and the prize he craved most now has equal pride of place on his storied resume.
Double Olympic champion Rodney Pattison skippered the British challenge for the America's Cup in 1983 and Olympic medallists Colin Ratsey and Graham Mann also tried to win.
But Ainslie is the first British sailor, and only the sixth in history, to win Olympic gold and have a hand in an America's Cup triumph.
Oracle Team USA's victory is already being hailed as one of sport's greatest comebacks - and super sub Ainslie played a pivotal role in the unlikely turnaround.
The £60m team, funded by software billionaire Larry Ellison, had a nightmare start to the regatta, forcing skipper James Spithill to drop first choice tactician John Kostecki and replace him with Ainslie.
His addition to the multinational crew proved inspired, the 36-year old gelling immediately with Spithill and strategist Tom Slingsby in what become an unstoppable combination.
Trailing 8-1 to Emirates Team New Zealand in the first to nine series, they won eight races in succession, defying the odds, the script and all conventions of the sport.
"It was a fantastic race, these guys have just showed so much heart," said Spithill, now a two-time America's Cup winning skipper.
"When you've got a team like this around you they can make you look great, on your own you are nothing.
"We were facing the barrel of a gun and this crew didn't even flinch. It's just a fantastic team effort. We knew we were fighters, we knew we could do this."
© Sportsbeat 2013