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Elvstrom and Ainslie
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The Publisher

Aug 9, 2012, 9:03 AM

Post #1 of 9 (19401 views)
Elvstrom and Ainslie Log-In to Post/Reply

Weymouth and Portland, U.K. (August 5, 2012; Day 8) In a dramatic Finn Medal Race Ben Ainslie (GBR) sealed the gold medal after finishing ahead of Jonas-Hogh Christensen (DEN) to become the most successful Olympic sailor of all time. The medal is Ainslie's fifth medal in a row and his fourth consecutive gold. He has eclipsed Paul Elvstrom (DEN) whose four gold medals from 1948-1960 had put him ahead of Ainslie before London 2012.

In front of a home crowd Ainslie sailed his way to gold finishing in ninth place, one place ahead of Elvstrom's compatriot Hogh-Christensen who had to settle for silver. Both sailors ended on 46 points with Ainslie taking the gold on a higher finishing position in the Medal Race. It was a winner take all scenario Pieter Jan Postma (NED) came close to spoiling the party and taking gold, but he hit the back of Dan Slater (NZL) before the finish and did a penalty turn which saw him slip out of the medals entirely, meaning race winner Jonathan Lobert (FRA) took the bronze. --

Finn - Top Five
1. Ben Ainslie (GBR) - 46pts
2. Jonas Hogh-Christensen (DEN) - 46pts
3. Jonathan Lobert (FRA) - 49pts
4. Pieter-Jan Postma (NED) - 52pts
5. Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic (CRO) - 55pts

Britain's Ben Ainslie became the most decorated Olympic Games sailor in history on Sunday when he captured a fourth consecutive gold medal before announcing his intention to quit.

The 35-year-old, who also won silver in 1996, overtakes Denmark's Paul Elvstrom, who won four golds from 1948 to 1960 as the sport's most successful sailor. Ainslie also matched the record for most Olympic sailing medals won in total, held by Torben Grael (BRA), who won gold in 1996 and 2004, silver in 1984 and bronze in 1988 and 2000.

But despite his dramatic triumph after a tense week of sailing, Ainslie said it was unlikely he will still be in a boat at the 2016 Olympics in Rio.

"You can never say never but I don't think I can sail one of these again, it's killing my body so I don't think you will see me in Rio. But it's the best way to bow out at a home Olympics," said the Briton.

"After six races I was in a bit of trouble, thankfully I turned things round and got it right when it counted. This was one of the hardest courses I have raced on and I don't want to do anything like that again." Read more:

The Publisher

Aug 9, 2012, 9:04 AM

Post #2 of 9 (19398 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Elvstrom and Ainslie [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

By Bruce Kirby
The yachting press, like most of the Fourth Estate, loves the superlative
and the all- encompassing assertion of infallibility. So we have Ben
Ainslie, who squeaked into his fourth Gold Medal, largely because a
competitor who was well ahead of him in the Medal Race made a dumb mistake
and had to do his circles.

So Ben is now - particularly in the British press - "the greatest sailor
who ever lived." He has four Gold Medals and a Silver. He is certainly the
'Greatest Gatherer of Olympic Sailing Medals' in the History of the Sport.
But surely not the 'Greatest Racing Sailor Who Ever Lived'.

The man who probably will always deserve that title lives in Copenhagen,
he's 84 years old, he suffers from early stage Parkinson's disease, and he
has recently become a widower.

We all know that along the way he won four Olympic Gold Medals. As he grew
older he competed in four other Olympics, finishing well in all but one of
those, but not mounting the podium. But there is so much more...

- He has won the World Championship of the Finn, the 505, Snipe, Soling,
Star, Flying Dutchman, 5.5 and Tornado.
- He taught us all how to hike our small boats so we could sit out far
longer than we ever thought we could.
- He designed us a bailer that really worked.
- He wrote four books to make us better sailors.
- He made great sails and a host of superior sailing equipment.
- He helped us understand the rules.
- He pointed out ways to improve our courses - such as upwind and downwind
- He was named Danish Sportsman of the Century.
- He smiled a great deal, and probably still does, and he was the
consummate gentleman, on and off the water.

So let's put the question to Ben Ainslie: "Who is the greatest sailor who
ever lived?" I'll bet Ben will say Paul Elvstrom.

The Publisher

Aug 9, 2012, 9:05 AM

Post #3 of 9 (19397 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Elvstrom and Ainslie [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Rob Stephan, Fairfield, CT:
Regarding Bruce Kirby's commentary on Ainslie vs Elvstrom, Ben
Ainslie has a long way to go to even compare to Paul Elvstrom.
There is no contest to what Ben has achieved in comparison to the lifetime
contribution to the sport of sailing by "The Great Dane" Mr. Elvstrom. In
terms of sportsmanship, technical improvements and the spirit of
international competition, Ben Ainslie will have do to more than collect
medals that include a win made possible by another sailors mistake. When
junior sailors are able to look up to the sportsmanship examples of Ainslie
as they do today with Elvstrom, then there will be reason for a discussion.

From David Barrow:
Paul Elvstrom and Ben Ainslie are two different products from two different

Paul came from an age where there were no coaches, Twitter, Facebook,
internet for that matter. He was my idol when a sailing youngster, and I
lost count of how many times I read 'Elvstrom Speaks' and fiddled around
with those little green and red plastic models in the clear plastic flap on
the back cover, that somehow never got lost!

Elvstrom learnt to sail his Finn fast upwind in Denmark in the winter, as
if he allowed water to get on the foredeck it froze so he learnt to sail up
wind in a breeze without getting water on the deck, and it was fast! Ben
can just go anywhere else in the World where there are good sailing
conditions. Virtually every comparison made would be tinged by similar
differences caused by time and they way the sport has evolved.

Neither of them would probably admit to being the best sailor in the world
as they are both modest men. However, they have to be two incomparable
sailors that would hold each other in great respect for what was achieved
in their time. Ben, maybe 'Elvstrom Speaks' needs updating now in digital
form lodged in "the cloud" and sold through Amazon to be downloaded onto a
Kindle , although I love my paper copy and most of it is still relevant,
bet you still got yours too.

The Publisher

Aug 9, 2012, 9:06 AM

Post #4 of 9 (19396 views)
Re: [The Publisher] Elvstrom and Ainslie [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

From Guy Le Roux:
I wholeheartedly agree with Bruce Kirby that Paul Elvstrom
is still the greatest Olympic sailor because he won 4 Gold Medals
without the benefit of a throwout race. Without throw-outs at the 2012
Games, Ben Ainslie would have lost the gold by two points and finished with
the silver.

The Publisher

Aug 9, 2012, 9:52 AM

Post #5 of 9 (19393 views)
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From Peter Hinrichsen:
I started my sailing with University team racing in Fireflies, the boat in which Paul Elvstrom won his first Gold medal, he was my hero, I still have is great books and was privileged to meet him at the 1984 and 1988 Olympics. However, one of my greatest sailing memories was watching Ben Ainslie sail downwind at the 2004 Olympics, it was poetry in motion like skiing on moving fluid moguls, and he made up 50m to pass a boat at the finish, absolutely superb.

So I do not wish to take anything away from his fantastic sailing skills, however, to me the modern scoring systems do not reflect the performance. In Paul Elvstrom’s day the Olympic score was 101+1000*log( A/N) where A is the entry and N your position. With that scoring system Jonas would have been too far ahead even if there had been a double score Medal race, and we retired if we fouled, no penalty turns (High modulus Carbon men in wooden boats).

In those days a tie was broken by the number of times each tied yacht had beaten the other, which would have been in Jonas’ favor 7 to 4. Even with the modern scoring system of RRS Appendix A8 “Each boat’s race scores shall be listed in order of best to worst, and at the first point(s) where there is a difference the tie shall be broken in favor of the boat(s) with the best score(s). No excluded scores shall be used”. With this system Jonas would again have won, 3 firsts to 2, but ISAF in its wisdom further biased the scores in favor of the Medal race, and how does that improve the TV ratings?

In 1976 the Olympic courses had to be 1.5 miles offshore so that local knowledge did not affect the sailing, now the Medal race is in a stadium for spectators, not the sailors. Perhaps ISAF should recommend to the IOC that the last 2 km of the Marathon should be separately timed to count double and for good measure coat the running surface with grease. After all that would significantly enhance the appeal to the TV audience!

When all is said and done Ben sailed according to the scoring system that was in place and they both knew what that was so he deserves congratulations but I am sure he would have preferred to win more convincingly.

The Publisher

Aug 9, 2012, 9:54 AM

Post #6 of 9 (19392 views)
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From Ed Simmons, Buffalo, NY:
I have been following the comments on Olympic sailing, lack of good results from North America, and Ben Ainslie vs Paul Elvstrom. First of all, Ben Ainslie and Paul Elvstrom are from different eras but the overall level of sailing is more evenly (and extremely) high now across countries compared to 50 years ago. So it is not right to think Ben Ainslie accomplishments are not incredible, to say the least.

As far as sailing medals for North America, I can say that sailing is more competitive one design in Europe compared to North America, across all ages. An example is the Dragon class where regularly 80 boats will show up for very competitive racing with many former Olympic sailors. In NA, the racing is more big boat/handicap-a very different type of racing.

From Andrew S. Macaulay:
Certainly, when someone of Bruce Kirby’s stature speaks, we all listen. However, with regards to the comparisons being made between Paul Elvstom and Ben Ainsle, no doubt, winning an Olympic sailing medal is an achievement without equal in this sport, in any era.

Indeed, in today’s era, with the proliferation of participation at the Olympic and near-Olympic level, one could argue that competition is at an all-time high. This is in part due to the Olympic adoption of craft like the Laser (thank you Mr. Kirby) in lieu of past favorites such as the Soling (and now Star) with their high cost of entry. Sailing is no longer quite the elite endeavor of yachting that it was in the age of Elvstrom, making Ainsle’s accomplishment all the more impressive.

What we should now be asking, no pressing Ainsle on, is how we, the sailing public, can get him to go for his 5th Gold in Rio! Because, by one measure, Elvstrom and Ainsle are equals- call it the “Tiger Slam” of sail- 4 golds each...who will be the first with 5? The book is not closed on his achievements and a 5th gold medal would be a fitting cap to his great run.

The Publisher

Aug 9, 2012, 9:55 AM

Post #7 of 9 (19391 views)
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From Daniel Meyers, Newport, RI:
Mr Rob Stephan stated that "Ainslie will have to do more than collect medals that include a win made possible by another sailors mistake." We all know that all kinds of things happen on the race course; wind shifts, different pressures, unsquare starting lines and courses, drifting marks and all types of happenstance. People get lucky, unlucky and sometimes the best execution turns into great result, sometimes it all goes to custard. That's why they call it a sport, sport.

Ben Ainslie is a great sailor, possibly the best today. No doubt in the world and congratulations to him and what he did in the past and in the future. Paul Elvstrom was a great sailor and role model. Both have positively impacted the sport, and most importantly in my opinion, held the strongest of convictions about the way they compete. You don't have to tear one down to pay respect to the other. Let's just hope they both inspire young boys and girls to work their hardest and enjoy the sport and sailing brings out their personal best whether that results in a Olympic gold medal, an America's Cup, a Volvo race win or just a bunch of memories and smiles of times on the sea.


Aug 9, 2012, 7:22 PM

Post #8 of 9 (19356 views)
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Nice comments on the Ainslie/Elvsrtom discussion Mr. Meyers! Many other comparisons are made in other sports, but your perspective is refreshing. Thanks!


Aug 28, 2012, 3:00 PM

Post #9 of 9 (18784 views)
Ben ain't done yet.... [In reply to] Log-In to Post/Reply

All true and thanks; I enjoyed the comments, but let's not forget that though Ben may have "announced" his retirement from the Olympics but certainly not from competitive sailing. His showing at the America's Cup World Series in San Francisco was stellar considering his late start on the AC 45. I understand that he may be competing a bit with Mr Spithill prior to the Cup Match next September in the AC 72. I suppose what I'm saying is that even if he doesn't compete in the Olympics again, his sailing career is far from over.
Check Six .......Mal

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