Ainslie faces battle with Aussies for coveted crown

Hampshire's Ben Ainslie
Hampshire's Ben Ainslie
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Britain’s multi-medal-winning star Ben Ainslie faces some old Olympic adversaries in the competition to be named the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

In the male category, the Hampshire yachtsman faces what seems like the entire might of the Australian sailing team, who emerged as the dominant sailing nation in Weymouth this summer.

Ainslie, of course, earned his nomination as both world champion and Olympic champion in the Finn class.

In holding off hard-charging Danish sailor Jonas Hogh-Christensen to take 2012 gold by a whisker, Ainslie became the most successful Olympic sailor of all time, eclipsing another Dane, Paul Elvstrom.

Also in the running, though, are Australians Mathew Belcher and Malcolm Page in the 470 class, Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen in the 49ers, and Tom Slingsby in the Lasers.

All won gold in Weymouth and are world champions – in both 2011 and 2012 – in their respective classes.

The final contender in the men’s section is France’s Loick Peyron – the only offshore sailor nominated this year.

He earned his place on January 6 this year when he and his 13 crew aboard the 40m maxi trimaran Banque Populaire V smashed the Outright Around the World Record to become the fastest men around the planet.

Britain has two outstanding candidates in the female category in Paralympic 2.4mR class gold medal-winning sailor Helena Lucas and 15-year-old windsurfer Saskia Sills, who won Under 17 gold at the RS:X European Championship, which was only her second international regatta.

Sills then went on to also win gold two weeks later at the 2012 Four Star Pizza ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship in Dublin.

The winners in each category will be announced on Tuesday, November 6, at the Mansion House in Dublin, Ireland.