Ben Ainslie named sailor of the year for fourth time

Four-time Olympic gold medallist Ben Ainslie has been named Sailor of the Year by the International Sailing Federation for a fourth time.

Ainslie, 35, also won the coveted title in 1998, 2002 and 2008.

Lijia Xu of China, a 2012 Olympic gold medallist in the laser radial class, claimed the women's award.

Ainslie's Olympic history

  • 2012 - gold (finn)
  • 2008 - gold (finn)
  • 2004 - gold (finn)
  • 2000 - gold (laser)
  • 1996 - silver (laser)

Britain's Paralympic gold medal-winner Helena Lucas and windsurfing youth world and European champion Saskia Sills were among the other nominees.

In another landmark year for Ainslie, his victory at London 2012 in the Finn class saw him overtake Denmark's Paul Elvstrom as the world's most successful Olympic sailor.

"Winning the World Sailor of the Year award is a huge honour, especially for everyone who has helped me," he said.

"There is a huge team in the background from family, friends, coaches and sponsors who helped make it happen. It is a huge honour to be part of such a group of exceptional sailors who were put forward for this award."

In the women's category, Xu's achievement as the first Asian competitor to win an Olympic gold medal in a dinghy sailing boat was recognised at the ceremony in Dublin.

She said: "Sailing has given me the chance to chase my dreams and the stage to show my potential.

"It has provided me with the opportunity to see, feel and explore the world. Sailing leads me to a path of a better life, a life full of vitality, excitement and joyful experiences."