British Olympian Ben Ainslie, just days after competing in AC class racing in Valencia, has been named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year at the 2008 ISAF General Assembly in the Spanish capital of Madrid. Ainslie won his third gold medal at the Qingdao Olympiad (he also has a silver in the Laser) with an overwhelmingly confident win in the Finn dinghy. Ainslie, 31, is the first person ever to win the World Sailor of the Year title three times.
Alessandra Sensini of Italy, a three-time windsurfing world champion and double bronze medalist, was named female World Sailor of the Year off her gold medal performance at Qingdao. She told the Assembly, "It's an honour to stand on the same stage as the best sailors in the world and receive this recognition. I remember seeing the 1984 Los Angeles Olympic Games and dreaming of being on the podium with my country's flag. I've now completed five Olympics, that's 20 years of adapting to new technologies and changes and to be here now, tonight, is so important and I thank you all from the bottom of my heart."
Ainslie has indicated an intent to attempt a fourth gold medal in 2012, when the Olympic Sailing Games come to Weymouth, England. First, however: "The next goal for Britain is to try for the America's Cup. We have a great British team. There are a lot of America's Cup heroes in this room and we hope to see you on the water in the near future."
Additional Female Nominees were Sarah Ayton, Sarah Webb, and Pippa Wilson of Great Britain; Clair LeRoy of France; Elise Rechichi and Tess Parkinson of Australia; and Anna Tunnicliffe of the USA.
Additional Male Nominees were Tom Ashley of New Zealand, Francis Joyon of France, Vincenzo Onorato of Italy, and Ian Williams of Great Britain.