Sir Ben's coach David 'Sid' Howlett and the late 'Mr Henri' also achieved YJA accolades

Sir

Ben Ainslie has been named Yachting Journalists Association (YJA)

Yachtsman of the Year for 2012.

It marks an unprecedented sixth time that the five-time Olympic medallist has won the

prestigious award.

Sir

Ben achieved the 2012 title ahead of four-time world match-racing

champion Ian Williams and gold Paralympic medallist and ISAF 2011-12

sailing World Cup champion Helena Lucas MBE, who were also finalists.

Three

awards were presented at a lunch and ceremony at Trinity House in London by Lady

Pippa Blake.

Sir

Ben, who was knighted in the New Year honours, was unable to attend the London event in person but managed to join today’s event via a

live television link from the team’s base in California.

He congratulated his fellow finallists Helena and

Ian.

A video was also shown of Sir Ben receiving the award from YJA chairman Bob Fisher and Lady Pippa Blake at the Royal

Lymington Yacht Club just before he flew to San Francisco to join the Oracle

Team USA, the defender of the America’s Cup.

Sir Ben is also preparing for

the next America’s Cup World

Series regatta at Naples in April with his J P Morgan/Ben Ainslie

Racing Team.


He said 2012 had been quite a year with many highlights,

but the Olympic regatta had been the toughest: ‘I thought I might

have left it too late but it was all down to a match race with Jonas [Hogh-Christensen] in

the medal race, and I seem to enjoy those!’


The 35-year-old has now been at the top of his sport for 20 years, claimed four Olympic

gold medals and one silver medal, nine European titles and 10 world

championships going back to 1993.

Few sportsmen

in any discipline have stayed at the forefront of their careers for

such a sustained period.


Sir Ben, whose successes

peaked with winning his fourth

Olympic gold medal at Weymouth and Portland in the London 2012

Olympics, also won the Finn Gold Cup for a record sixth year, and concluded 2012 by being named ISAF

Rolex World Sailor of the Year.

The sailing star, who lives in Lymington, said

his next goal is to lead a British team for the next America’s Cup series,

wherever that would be held.

He added: ‘It has been a long-held ambition to be

part of the team that returns

the Cup to Britain after more than a 160-year absence.’

The

awards were sponsored by Pantaenius yacht insurer.

Other

awards presented included a YJA special accolade for Sir Ben’s

coach, David ‘Sid’ Howlett, who won an MBE in the New Year’s honours.

A

YJA Lifetime Achievement award was posthumously won by the late Henry Strzelecki,

universally known as ‘Mr Henri’, who died on Boxing Day.

In

1963, Mr Henri founded the clothing company Henri Lloyd with Angus

Lloyd.

The

prize was collected by his son Paul Strzlecki, , the joint chief

executive of Henri-Lloyd.


Guests were welcomed by John McCurdy, OBE, managing director, of Pantaenius UK.

Last Saturday, windsurfer Saskia Sills was named the YJA Pantaenius Young

Sailor of the Year for 2012.

The

16-year-old from Launceston, Cornwall, was presented with the trophy by Mr Fisher on the preview day of the

Tullett Prebon London International Boat Show.