After Ben Ainslie announced his departure from the One World America’s Cup syndicate, there has been much speculation as to what he is planning to do next.
Ben has been in discussion with the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) of Great Britain for some time regarding his return to Olympic sailing, and since he landed back in the country last Saturday, a series of talks have taken place between Ben, the RYA coaches and sports science staff at the RYA headquarters to help him get his programme up and running as soon as possible. The Olympic Manager, Stephen Park is pleased to confirm Ben back onto the World Class Performance programme as a level A sailor in the Finn class dinghy.
It will not be plain sailing for Ben as he has a number of issues that he needs to address such as fitness, which includes a weight gain programme, as well as getting hold of a competitive boat and rig, and that's before he even starts sailing. His sailing programme begins when he trains against fellow British Finn sailors at a training camp later on in the month and then he will have his first taste of competition at the Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma at the end of March.
Ben returns to Olympic sailing after a year sailing with the One World America's Cup Challenge, which has developed his skills and approach to the sport.
"The America's cup is a real example of where things are taken to the limit, and this has opened up my thinking. Whilst I was there I started building up my upper body strength, as this is a big aspect of that type of sailing, and as a consequence I put on some weight. Because of these factors the Finn seems like the right choice of boat to make. It will be interesting for me to be starting at the bottom of a class again, but I think that I will find this very rewarding, and there is great knowledge in Britain in this class, which will really help me", commented Ben.
Olympic Manager Stephen Park commented on Ben's return to Olympic sailing, "Both UK Sport and the RYA are excited by Ben Ainslie's return to Olympic sailing and it will certainly strengthen our Olympic Challenge for 2004. Winning an Olympic medal is never easy and Ben will have plenty to keep him busy between now and Athens, not least winning qualification for the Games in a class where Great Britain is already strong".
Everyone in RYA team GBR is pleased to see Ben back on the programme and looks forward to working with him over the following months.