Eight tracks that sailing legend Sir Ben Ainslie would like to be castaway with...
‘What A Wonderful World’ by Louis Armstrong
would be Sir Ben Ainslie’s soundtrack of choice if he was castaway on a desert
The world’s greatest Olympic sailor and
America’s Cup star revealed on BBC Radio 4 yesterday that it would be the one piece of music he would save from
the sea above all others but also revealed seven other pieces of music that he
Desert Island Discs presenter
Kirsty Young said it was Sir Ben’s ‘tactical nous and maverick streak’ that set
him apart and had enabled him to become an 11-times World and nine-times European Champion, and the world’s greatest ever Olympic sailor.
In a personal interview, Sir Ben admitted
that his aggression on the water, so out of character with his mild mannered
on-land demeanour, had concerned him a little in the past.
He gave the example of a couple of years
ago when he leapt aboard a media boat that had ‘taken him out the race’ and
told the driver off in ‘no uncertain terms’, which landed him in ‘a lot of trouble’. Sir Ben said he’d learnt from this.
The quadruple gold Olympic medallist and silver medallist described sailing as ‘an incredibly diverse sport’ and said sailors needed to be fit and strong, to have an understanding of the weather, wind and seas and how that could affect the race, plus ‘quite a strategic mind to put that all together while sailing along as fast as you can.’
‘I’m Still Standing’ by Elton John was Sir Ben’s first track
of choice, he said:’You’ve got to have a bit of Elton John if you’re going to
be stuck on a desert island, I just like it.’
‘Coming Around Again’ by Carly Simon was
second on the list. Sir Ben said this was the favourite tune of his dad Roddy,
who completed the fist ever Whitbread Round the World Race. He added: ‘It takes
me back to my childhood.’
Sir Ben said :’It’s an amazing story, my
parents lived in Cheshire at the time and were very amateur sailors.
‘They used to sail in little 20ft wooden
clinker boats. The race was announced and they decided to do this race in a bar
one evening with their friends.
‘They all took out loans and mortgages to
do this race, the only professional sailor on board was a navigator.
‘Out of 23 boats they finished seventh, which
is just amazing.’
Sir Ben described the ‘feeling of freedom’
he felt when he first sailed a dinghy alone at the age of eight, when his dad
pushed him out onto the water without a life jacket and told him to meet them
at the pub.
He added: ‘It was very amazing at that age
to feel in control of something.’
‘Read All About It’ by Emeli Sande was Sir
Ben’s third choice, both for her amazing voice and the memories it brought back
of the London 2012 Olympic Games, where it was performed at the Closing Ceremony.
Sir Ben revealed that growing up he didn’t
really take to anything at school but as soon as he found sailing, he ‘loved
He said ‘it’s
rather unfortunate for a sailor to have a sun allergy’ but he does and when he
was at school it covered his face and he was bullied for it.
Sir Ben added: ‘I’m quite a sensitive soul and I
did struggle with that. It drew me back a bit and made me quite reserved and
Winning a World Championship regatta at the
age of 15 and having this news announced at school assembly earned him the
respect of his classmates, who ‘looked around in complete disbelief’ and said:
‘We knew you were into sailing but we didn’t know you were any good at it.’
The classical music piece Vide Cor Meum
which features in the film Hannibal was the fourth tune chosen.
Sir Ben said he wouldn’t have been able to
achieve so much as a young sailor without the support of his parents and sister
Fleur who accompanied him around the world to regattas.
It was through sailing that Sir Ben met
‘life-long friends’ and he described fond memories of training camps at Rutland
Sailing Club, even when it was so cold they had to carry kettles of water down to defrost the
main sheets and his feet felt like ‘stumps or blocks of ice.’
He said: ‘I just loved it, I wanted to be
good at sailing and to be part of the team.’
‘The Chain’ by Fleetwood Mac, was the
‘massive Formula 1 fan’s’ fifth choice.
Sir Ben said: ‘I like to just sit back and
listen to The Chain and think of all the great races.’
He admitted that his race techniques, and
pushing the rules to the limits, had caused controversy in the past.
Particularly his legendary rivalry with Robert Scheidt, which saw Sir Ben forcing
the Brazilian legend to come 23rd in a race at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games to
At the time Sir Roger Bannister blasted this as ‘unsportsmanlike’ and people were ‘burning effigies of him in Brazil’ but
Sir Ben said this tactic was now encouraged by the Olympic racing format’s
double points medal race.
Cold Play’s ‘Fix You’ was Sir Ben’s
poignant sixth choice in memory of his good friend Andrew Simpson, who
tragically died last year while America’s Cup training in San Francisco.
He said: ‘Andrew got me into Coldplay. They
played this at his funeral at Sherborne Abbey and there wasn’t a dry eye in the
Sir Ben said he ‘hated’ the sport of
sailing after Andrew’s death and thought about not going back to San Francisco
to continue America’s Cup training.
But after a period of reflection he thought
‘What would Andrew say? He would say ‘Don’t be ridiculous, this is your life,
this is what you love, get out there and do it.’
Sir Ben said he had thought at times ‘quit
while your ahead’ but said his ‘burning desire’ was to win the America’s Cup
with a British team.
He added: ‘Britain is a strong sailing
nation but the America’s Cup is the one thing we haven’t won. It would be a
great thing to be part of.’
Sir Ben said he had a lovely girlfriend who
lives in New York and added: ‘We’re very happy’.
Nimrod (from Enigma Variations), performed by
the Royal Philharmonic Orchestra, was Sir Ben’s seventh choice.
He said since being part of the American
team that won the America’s Cup, he had been working very hard, talking to
investors, to put together a budget of $100million and create a British team.
Sir Ben said he was ‘quite a fan of jazz’
and chose ‘What A Wonderful World’ to end his castaway experience with.
For his one book (to accompany the bible
and complete works of Shakespeare already on the island) Sir Ben said he would take
‘Great Expectations’ by Charles Dickens as he loves the characters and it’s a
wonderful story about life.
His ‘luxury item’ would be a proper
commercial flight simulator, as he was keen to learn to fly but hadn’t had the