Yachting champ hopes to sail to success on dry land - in Great South Run

Ben Ainslie at the launch of the 2016 Great South Run Picture: Peter Langdown

Ben Ainslie at the launch of the 2016 Great South Run Picture: Peter Langdown

  • Great South Run is officially launched by sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie
  • Sir Ben hopes to take part in the event himself
  • The sailor is in training for this year’s America’s Cup events
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HE’S far more at home at the helm of the sailing boat than running with a crowd.

But Sir Ben Ainslie said today he’d love to take part in this year’s Great South Run as he officially launched the event.

I’m a keen jogger and though I would never claim to be a world-beating runner, I’d very much enjoying it.

Sir Ben Ainslie

The America’s Cup legend was at the Portsmouth Historic Dockyard for the launch, and said he’d do his best to fit the run into his busy sailing schedule.

He said: ‘We’ve got a lot of commitments with the America’s Cup campaign but depending on how that develops I’d love to take part.

‘I’m a keen jogger and though I would never claim to be a world-beating runner, I’d very much enjoy it.

‘First and foremost it’s a great day out and a fun way for people to raise money for important charities.’

The Great South Run will take place in Portsmouth for the 26th time on October 23.

Sir Ben said if he took part in the run he’d raise money for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation, a charity he co-founded in memory of Andrew ‘Bart’ Simpson.

A friend and fellow sailor, Andrew lost his life in an America’s Cup training accident in 2013. Sir Ben said of the charity: ‘It’s a great initiative that helps get a lot of youngsters get out there on the water.’

He said his goal would be to finish in under 1hr 23min, the time achieved by another sailing champ, Iain Percy, last year.

Sir Ben said his Land Rover Ben Ainslie Racing boat team had been training on the Solent all winter and were looking forward to the first America’s Cup event of the year, which takes place in Oman next month.

Portsmouth will host more America’s Cup races on July 23 and July 24.

Sir Ben said: ‘We saw last year what an exciting event that was.

‘Unfortunately we didn’t really get the weather on the Sunday so we’ve booked that in this year. To be able to sail in front of a home crowd is an incredible opportunity for us.’

Great South Run spokesman David Hart said almost 10,000 people had already signed up for this year’s event.

‘It’s early days yet but that figure shows how popular the event is, not just in Portsmouth but nationally and internationally as well,’ he said.

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