Main content

Sir Ben Ainslie

Kirsty Young interviews English sailing star Sir Ben Ainslie.

Kirsty Young's castaway this week is the sailor Sir Ben Ainslie.

Eleven times World and 9 times European Champion he's also the most successful sailor in Olympic history.

As he crossed the finishing line at the London 2012 Games, winning his fourth gold, the crowd gave a rousing rendition of Rule Britannia: indeed he rules the waves with such a ruthless will to win it seems somewhat contradictory that on dry land he comes across as an unassuming bloke from Cornwall.

He was eight when, in a duffle coat and wellies, he made his first solo journey in a little wooden boat. Ever since sailing has been his obsession. He's brave, strong and skilled, but it's his tactical nouse and maverick streak that sets him apart. In last year's America's Cup he turned a 1-8 defeat into a 9-8 win for the US. Whether he can do the same for his home team may be his next big challenge.

He says, "The desire to win is still the same as ever ... if it wasn't there, that would be a worry. Motivation has never really been a problem for me."

Producer: Cathy Drysdale.

Available now

45 minutes

Music Played

  • Elton John

    I'm Still Standing

    • Rocket Man.
    • Mercury/Universal.
  • Carly Simon

    Coming Round Again

    • Nobody does it Better.
    • Warner.
  • Emeli Sandé

    Read All About it

    • A Symphony Of British Music: Music For The Closing Ceremony Of The London 2012 Olympic Games.
    • UMC/Decca.
  • Danielle de Niese & Bruno Lazzaretti

    Vide Cor Meum

    • Hannibal.
    • Universal.
  • Fleetwood Mac

    The Chain

    • Rumours.
    • Warner Bros.
  • Coldplay

    Fix You

    • Fix You.
    • EMI.
  • Edward Elgar

    Nimrod from Enigma Variations

    Performer: London Philharmonic Orchestra. Performer: Charles Mackerras.
    • Desert Island Discs 1942-1992.
    • BBC.
  • Castaway's Favourite

    • Louis Armstrong

      What A Wonderful World

      • The Very Best of Louis Armstrong.
      • VERVE.
  • Book Choice

    • Great Expectations - Charles Dickens

  • Luxury Choice

    • A flight simulator

Credits

Role Contributor
Presenter Kirsty Young
Interviewed Guest Ben Ainslie

Broadcasts

Featured in...

The Desert Island Discs podcast

The Desert Island Discs podcast

Subscribe or download individual episodes.

Listen to over 2,000 programmes

Articles

Articles

Read the surprising things we've learned about some stand-out castaways.

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

The 75th anniversary of Desert Island Discs

Featuring David Beckham, the funniest and most moving moments, animations and quizzes.

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

The Lark Ascending – The People’s Desert Island Disc

Why does Vaughan Williams’s masterpiece appeal to so many castaways?

Podcast