Ainslie and Paralympian Helena Lucas among those named in Honours list
Ben Ainslie, the most decorated Olympic
sailor of all time, has capped off his record-breaking 2012 with a knighthood in the New Year Honours list.
While Paralympic gold medallist Helena Lucas and Ainslie’s coach David
Howlett have both been named as Members of the Order of the British
‘Sir Ben’ claimed his fourth straight Olympic gold – and fifth Olympic
medal in total – on the waters of Weymouth and Portland this summer.
Now, this most prestigious honour comes as fitting curtain call to
his lucrative Olympic sailing career, which he called time on last month
in order to focus on his America’s Cup ambitions.
Lymington’s Ainslie, 35, said: “This is an incredible honour.
“When I set out Olympic sailing 20 years ago, I never would have
dreamt this would happen.
“I couldn’t have achieved this honour without
the support of all the people who have helped me throughout my career
and so I hope they can also take some pride in this moment.”
In September, Portland’s Lucas became the first Paralympic gold medallist for
sailing since it became a full Paralympic programme sport in 2000.
Not only did Lucas make history on the waters of Portland Harbour but she
notably did so as the only female among an otherwise all-male fleet in
the 2.4mR class.
Lucas, 37, said: “It’s a real honour and a fantastic end to an amazing year.
“It was totally unexpected as there have been so many
outstanding sporting achievements this year.”
David ‘Sid’ Howlett, 61, coached Ainslie to his record-breaking
fourth Olympic gold and sixth Finn World Championship title this summer,
while his knowledge and experience has also contributed to a clutch of
British Olympic sailing medals since 1988.
Outside of the Olympic and Paralympic Games, there was also recognition
for Malcolm Torry, who was awarded the British Empire Medal (BEM) for
services to sailing and to people with disabilities for his work through
Carsington Sailability in Derbyshire.
Sarah Treseder, CEO of the Royal Yachting Association (RYA) said: “We
are all absolutely thrilled for sailing’s award recipients, who have all
made major contributions either to the RYA community, or the sport of
sailing and its successes on the world stage across so many years.
“They are such great ambassadors for our sport, and we’re delighted and
so proud that their hard work and achievements have been recognised
after the sporting success story that 2012 has been for the country.”