London 2012: Ben Ainslie in Great Britain squad

Ben Ainslie is on course to challenge for a fourth consecutive Olympic gold medal after being named in the Great Britain sailing team for London 2012.

Finn sailor Ainslie, 34, will be joined in Weymouth by Beijing Olympic Star champions Iain Percy and Andrew Simpson and Laser gold medallist Paul Goodison.

Windsurfers Nick Dempsey and Bryony Shaw have also been picked for 2012.

"We all want to compete on home waters - it's a once-in-a-lifetime opportunity," Ainslie told BBC Sport.

Sailors in seven of the 10 Olympic classes were named by Team GB on Tuesday, with Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark selected in the 470 and Lucy Macgregor, sister Kate Macgregor and Annie Lush chosen in the Elliott 6m match-racing event.

GB 2012 Olympic sailing team:

  • Finn: Ben Ainslie
  • Star: Iain Percy, Andrew Simpson
  • Laser: Paul Goodison
  • Women's 470: Hannah Mills, Saskia Clark
  • Elliott 6m: Lucy Macgregor, Kate Macgregor, Annie Lush
  • RS X (Women): Bryony Shaw
  • RS X (Men): Nick Dempsey
  • 49er: To be decided
  • Men's 470: To be decided
  • Laser Radial: To be decided

Decisions on Great Britain's one entry for each of the three remaining Olympic classes  - the 49er, men's 470 and Laser Radial - could be left as late as next May, although performances at the World Championships  in Perth, Australia this December are likely to prove critical.

The 11 sailors selected are the first confirmed names in Team GB's 550-strong squad for the Games.

"All the sailors have had a fantastic year of performances which has resulted in them gaining selection at an early opportunity, allowing them good time to focus their campaigns specifically on the challenges of Weymouth Bay and Portland Harbour," said Team GB sailing manager Stephen Park.

Tough task to make 2012 team - Ainslie

Ainslie developed his reputation sailing in the Laser  , winning a silver medal behind arch-rival Robert Scheidt at the Atlanta Olympics in 1996 and then gaining revenge on the Brazilian in Sydney in 2000.

He subsequently switched to the heavyweight Finn dinghy, securing successive Olympic titles in Athens and Beijing . But as he pursued a career outside of Olympic sailing - on the big-boat circuit and in the America's Cup - his British rivals caught up and Ainslie faced a tough battle to see off the challenge of Finn world champion Ed Wright and up-and-coming star Giles Scott.

"Previous qualification experiences helped but having the Olympics in the UK puts that added bit of pressure on," added Ainslie, who won the Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth in June and the Olympic test event at the same venue last month.

"Having my selection confirmed is obviously a big relief. It's an honour to be selected to compete for Team GB.

Ben Ainslie's Olympic quest

  • Ben Ainslie is trying to emulate legendary Danish sailor Paul Elvstrom, who won four consecutive Olympic golds between 1948-1960, three of them in the Finn
  • Ainslie would join rower Matthew Pinsent on four consecutive Olympic golds
  • Only Sir Steve Redgrave (five) has won more golds at consecutive games for Britain

"It's now all about getting the plans right for my fitness and preparation to peak at the right time. You don't want to reach burnout and the Olympics are the end goal."

The 35-year-old Percy is going for a third Olympic gold medal after winning the Finn title in Sydney in 2000 and teaming up with Olympic debutant Simpson to take the Star title four years ago.

Goodison, 33, also faced a tough selection battle but has done enough to be picked ahead of team-mate Nick Thompson.

"To go from the lows of finishing fourth in Athens to then winning the gold medal in China was fantastic," said Goodison.

"I can only imagine what it would be like to repeat this feat again in Weymouth with my family and friends there on British waters."

Women's 470 pair Mills and Clark only teamed up in February , with Mills replacing two-time Olympic champion Sarah Ayton, who retired from the sport to focus on her family life.

Sailing facts:

  • Great Britain won six sailing medals at the Beijing Olympics (four golds, a silver and a bronze)
  • Only one entrant per country in each fleet is permitted at an Olympics

"I didn't believe it when I first heard the news - I'd built it up in my mind that our trials would be carrying on so it came as a big surprise," said Mills.

Clark added: "We have surpassed our expectations, winning medals in all but one event together, but there's a huge amount of hard work still to do."

Dempsey and Shaw will both expect to push for podium places again, having collected bronze medals in Athens and Beijing respectively.

The Macgregor sisters and team-mate Lush finished seventh at the Olympic test event in the new Elliott 6m  match-racing event, but it was enough to win a place in the 2012 team.

The Elliott replaces the Yngling class, in which Britain's women achieved consecutive gold medals between 2000 and 2008.

Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark win 2012 test event silver