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


Listen to the show here

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

doing it’.

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

claim gold.

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