The dad of sailing legend Ben Ainslie’s has paid tribute to the four-time Olympic champion after he masterminded one of the sport’s greatest ever comebacks.
Macclesfield-born and raised Ainslie, who spent his first years sailing on Redesmere Lake in Siddington, helped Oracle Team USA to an astonishing America’s Cup triumph over Emirates Team New Zealand.
Team USA?put out a call to Ben after the Kiwis dominated the early races and stormed 8-1 in front.
He played a key role in helping the team to overcome the deficit to clinch a famous 9-8 triumph in San Francisco Bay.
His dad, former Kings pupil Roddy, told the Express: “I spoke to Ben straight after the race, he was absolutely over the moon.
“We’re very proud of him.
“He’s been doing this since he was seven years old and he’s 37 now. He deserves it.”
The family moved from Macclesfield to Cornwall when Ben was aged eight.
Roddy, 72, added:?“The designers and boat builders got the boat to go a bit quicker and Ben managed to change the attitude of the crew. It’s a bit like football when the team gets a new player, everyone ups their game a bit.
“Ben’s just the tactician. He had to decide when they tacked and went upwind where the wind was coming from and he made the right call.”
But sadly for Terra Nova School educated Ben his parents missed arguably the greatest moment of his career as mum Sue was ill and Roddy was looking after her.
Ben’s contribution is all the more remarkable given he was originally only part of the back up crew.
He first came to prominence at the 1996 Atlanta Olympics when he finished second in the Laser class.
Ben turned silver into Sydney gold four years later and then added three more gold medals in the Finn class, including one at London 2012.
However, there may not be a fifth gold at Rio 2016 according to his father.
Roddy said:?“Ben hurt his back after the Olympics.
“It’s better now but he doesn’t feel that he can get fit enough to sail in the Olympics again and he’d always wanted to give the America’s Cup a go.”
Ben, who dedicated the victory to former GB team mate, Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson who drowned in a training accident earlier this year, said:
“It’s quite unbelievable to think where we were 10 days ago, to come back from that.
“It was one of the most amazing races I’ve ever been a part of, but for myself and I think a couple of other guys on the boat, our thoughts are with Andrew and his family.
“When you are in the Olympics you are doing it on your own.
“You can enjoy the success but you can only let yourself down.
“This is more rewarding, doing it in a team.
“You can share this.”
Ben added:?“Unfortunately, my parents couldn’t be here.
“My mum is sick in hospital.
“It is nothing too serious but my poor dad has had to look after her.
“Hopefully this has put a smile on her face.”