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Sailing superstar Ainslie touches down in Bermuda

Sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie touched down safely in the Island last night where he has fond sailing memories.

The most decorated sailor in Olympic history — with four gold medals and a silver — has returned to these shores to compete in the $100,000 Argo Group Gold Cup.

Sir Ben, who served as tactician on Oracle Team USA that pulled off a stunning fightback to retain the coveted Auld Mug at last month's America's Cup, arrived from London, England on the same British Airways flight as former Governor Sir John Vereker and his wife Lady Vereker.

“I'm very happy to be back here and just flying in you remember how beautiful this Island is, seeing all the beaches and the landscape, which is very nicely cut,” Sir Ben told The Royal Gazette.

As well as competing in the Gold Cup, Sir Ben will share his wealth of expertise with some of the Island's advanced Optimist sailors during a clinic at the Royal Bermuda Yacht Club today.

“Coaching the kids is going to be great and I'm looking forward to that,” he said. “It's always nice working with the youngsters and they have a good group down here in Bermuda.

“I've heard they have been doing great over the last few years. It's great to hear how much support it's been for youth sailing here in Bermuda, something that is important to all of us, and I'm happy to help out.”

Sir Ben is also here to raise awareness of the Andrew Simpson Foundation set up in memory of his late friend. Simpson, who was a part of Sir Ben's 2008 Gold Cup team, was killed earlier this year while training for the 34th America's Cup in San Francisco Bay on the AC72 catamaran, Artemis.

“That's why we are here because we've got such great memories of this event and of course Andrew came with us back in 2008 and coached us at this event,” said Sir Ben. “He was only here for one week but made a big impression on everyone he met and so this is a great way to remember him and raise funds for his foundation.

“There is a dinner planned for next week which Mark Watson from Argo Group and his wife have organised. They have done a fantastic job and racing in the event we hope to raise some funds as well for the foundation.”

The multiple Finn and Laser world champion poured cold water on claims he warmed up for the Gold Cup sailing in the International One Design (IOD) classic racing sloop during his spare time at the America's Cup in San Francisco.

“The only boat I've been sailing in San Francisco Bay is a 72ft multihull (AC72) which goes about 50 knots,” he smiled. “We haven't done any practice and don't expect anything from this event other than to have a good time, catch up with old friends and of course we are very grateful for the support for the Andrew Simpson Foundation.”

Sir Ben won back-to-back King Edward VII Gold Cups in 2009 and 2010.

He's back! Sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie has returned for the Argo Group Gold Cup (Photo by Colin Thompson)

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Published October 05, 2013 at 9:00 am (Updated October 05, 2013 at 12:05 am)

Sailing superstar Ainslie touches down in Bermuda

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