Ben Ainslie's Kiwi connection
Fri, 10 Aug 2012 6:43p.m.
By Charlotte Shipman, in London
Sailor Ben Ainslie is being tipped to be team Great Britain’s flag bearer at the closing ceremony, after he picked up his fourth Olympic title.
But as is the case with many British victories, there's a Kiwi connection.
Ainslie and Kiwi Olympian Dan Slater are still talking about the race which secured Ainslie his fourth Olympic gold and the title of world's most successful Olympic sailor.
While the pair are fiercely competitive on the water, off it, they've been mates for 20 years.
“One of the things about sailing is you need people to sail against, and both Ben and I recognised at a pretty young age that we were better off being allies than playing war against each other,” Slater says.
That alliance, forged on Auckland’s Takapuna beach, was put to the test in Slater and Ainslie's final race.
All Ainslie needed to take gold was to finish ahead of his Danish rival. Slater was in second place in the race but out of medal contention.
But because the event is based on points, it was crucial Slater finished ahead of Netherlands sailor PJ Postma who was set to take the silver medal but risked it all for gold.
“I said to the Dutch guy, who is also a really good friend, I knew he was going to have a go at trying to pass me and it wasn't on,” Slater says. “The position where I was and where he was, it just wasn't on and I said to him mate - you've got a medal just don't do it. And he did. He had the glaze over in the eyes and he just went for it.”
But Slater defended his position.
“I was thankful it was Dan there because he was in a strong tactical position and he's a really good sailor and smart enough to be able to hold onto that position,” Ainslie says. “Maybe if it had been someone else I wouldn't have been quite so trusting.”
But the situation was unexpected for Slater.
“Never in my wildest dreams did I think that it was going to be me that was the difference between gold and silver and it didn't even enter my head when it happened - it was just how it panned out at the end of the day.”
Both men are positive about New Zealand’s sailing future, especially after Blair Tuke and Peter Burling's silver medal in the 49er class.
“Those guys are really talented and they are the future of racing,” Ainslie says.
Slater says he sees a bit of himself in them.
“Yeah, for sure. I mean if I could do it all again I don't think I’d do anything different again.”
Including the antics of 20 years ago, which Slater would not go in to. He says they're both too old to repeat it.
Post a Comment
Before commenting, please take the time to read our moderation guide
(Won't be published)
New Zealand free skiier Rose Battersby still has aspirations of competing at nex...
Olympic champion Mahe Drysdale has one more thing on his to do list before he re...
Select your blogger
Copyright © 2013 MediaWorks TV. All Rights Reserved.