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Ben Ainslie: Close to The Wind: Autobiography of Britain's Greatest Olympic Sailor [Hardcover]

Ben Ainslie
4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)

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Book Description

3 Sep 2009

Knife-edge decisions, adrenaline rushes, extreme weather, bitter rivalries, heart-stopping races - they are all in a day's work for 'sailing's superman' Ben Ainslie. Ben has won successive golds in the last three Olympics, making him a British hero and our greatest Olympic sailor ever. In 2012 he plans for a fourth.

In Close to the Wind Ben reveals the truth behind his awesome achievement. A charming spokesperson off the water, he reveals just how ruthless he is on it. He admits to fierce rivalries, above all with Brazilian Robert Scheidt, who robbed a nineteen-year-old Ben of gold in his first Olympics.

Ben's twenty-year sailing career, which began on a dinghy in a remote Cornish bay, has a scope unmatched by other sports. In Olympic races he is alone, in his tiny boat, channelling aggression and plotting tactics.

From his proudest moment representing Team GB, to one tough decision that almost risked destroying his career, this is a unique insight into the man who cannot be second best. It shows what really takes place in the white heat of competition and lifts the lid on this toughest of sports.

Product details

  • Hardcover: 256 pages
  • Publisher: Yellow Jersey (3 Sep 2009)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0224082922
  • ISBN-13: 978-0224082921
  • Product Dimensions: 16.2 x 24.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.5 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (20 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 418,979 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Product Description


'Take it from a neutral observer: the most accomplished competitor at work in British sport today is Ben Ainslie. Chris Hoy, Lewis Hamilton and Rebecca Adlington deserve praise but the real fanfare should be reserved for Ainslie ... [He has] a combination of dedication, stamina, tactical nous and, the clincher here, a sustained level of ruthlessness rarely witnessed before in British sport.' (Henry Winter, Daily Telegraph)

Sailing's superman (The Times)

An interesting self-portrait ... it encapsulates his personality: pleasant and unassuming off the water, ruthless on it (Independent)

Book Description

The world's greatest racing sailor - three-times Olympic champion Ben Ainslie tells his story

Customer Reviews

4.5 out of 5 stars
4.5 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Oppies to AC boats via the Olympics 10 Oct 2009
Yesterday I started (and finished) reading Ben's autobiography, `Close to the Wind'. He covers, in a fairly haphazard order; his Olympic campaigns, duels with Robert Scheidt, Oppie racing, his involvement with various AC campaigns, training, his dislike of Guillaume Florent (cheating Frenchman who's good, but not good enough) and his poor performance at school. Arguably he could have left that last part out - the book's riddled with spelling, grammatical and punctuation errors. At least it proves he really did write it himself, I guess. And giving it the same title as Pete Goss' unimaginatively titled book was an odd move.

Throughout the book he's borrowed Dame Ellen's self-conscious, self-deprecating style, though thankfully he's yet to adopt the pained martyr-smile that's the Weepy One's trademark. (Or is it just wind? Should her book have been called "I've Got Wind"?) Anyway, despite all that, it's a great read if you're interested in Olympic sailing, AC sailing or what makes the finest sailor on the planet tick - and, can, cope, with, random, unnecessary, commas - and dashes - everywhere - and sentences that are, frankly, just a bit too long and feature the word - `frankly' - too often.

It would have been great if he'd called it "The Queen's going to have to Knight me in 3 Years", and written the thing via dictaphone whilst out racing when, by his own admission, he's a very different character. I'd have loved to have heard more about incidents and his attitude on the water. The last thing I want to know is that he's a nice guy too. He's obviously not when he's racing!
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars An interesting account 15 Jan 2013
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
I enjoyed reading it but as he appears in his television interviews he doesn't open up as much as other sports people when giving interviews or writing their autobiographies.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Not amazingly written 4 Nov 2013
By ratty
Format:Kindle Edition
As a sailor myself I was very much looking forward to reading about Ben's experience as a youth sailor. Packed with information it was a little hard to get into but after a while it became more steady going. In the book there are hundreds of flashbacks and this is probably why I found it hard to get into. Overall a decent red but not as good as his sailing abilities!
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Good Read 11 Aug 2012
By Lyndon
Format:Kindle Edition|Verified Purchase
Ben Ainslie is a recent discovery to me (thanks to the Olympics) and I was intrigued to read about the man who has won 4 Olympic Gold medals. I wanted to learn about what makes him tick. How he gets his mind into "winning" mode, etc. I'm going to be honest, it didn't quite deliver. Aside from the questionable grammar, it's been written in a very haphazard sort of way, and by that I mean, it jumps around a lot without going into too much detail. I would have loved it if Ben had gone into a little more detail.

However, upon saying that, I still found it an enjoyable read. I'm not into sailing so do not be put off reading this book if you're not a sailor.
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
After great sporting events new books appear, and readers are lucky that this updated autobiography first written in 2009 makes a pleasant re-appearance for those who missed his story the first time round.

Ben Ainslie is Briton's top sailing Olympian, son of the skipper of the first Whitbread Round the World race of 1973, and godson of Robin Knox-Johnson's racing friend Les Williams. He takes us from his early days on a voyage of self-discovery and a passion for the sea. It is also a review of his chameleon manners: shy, pacific on land, and wild and risk-taking on the sea, as he declared furiously during the first week of London Olympics at Weymouth, when not performing as was expected, that his rivals Hogh-Christensen and Lobert from Denmark and France had made a grave mistake to make him angry. He admits now it was a ploy at mind-games, something untried by him until then, but like all sportsmen he wanted as much of the right publicity as possible.

From his early days he has always sailed first in the Optimist class, then in the Laser, winning the World youth ISAF championships in 1995, before becoming the youngest British sailor of any Olympic squad at 18 at the Atlanta Games, taking part around Savannah. He surprised everyone after a terrible first race by coming away with the silver medal, behind the Brazilian Robert Scheidt. He did not wish simply to participate, as there was no guarantee that there would be a second chance. He wished to prove as the then great Steve Redgrave used to say, "If you don't travel to win, you're just a tourist".
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2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars A remarkable story of a brilliant yachtsman! 17 Sep 2009
I have been into sailing for many years, growing up in Liverpool and getting involved in it when I went on a sailing trip with the school in North Wales. I went after being talked round by my dad and after that week, I didn't want to come home. I realised I loved it! Ten years later, I STILL love it! I have been a huge fan of Ben Ainslie since Sydney 2000 after watching that race with Robert Scheidt (even if it was in the middle of the night and on a school night). In all my life, I have never been so in awe of any yachtsman who has made sailing so easy and who has dominated the sport and more. Since the tender age of 19, after winning a silver medal in Atlanta to winning his third gold in Beijing, he has become a sailing legend and icon in his own lifetime. His story is something of a movie: from a boy being bullied at school for being different to someone who has proved to his doubter and who have mentally hurt him in the past into a sailing superstar. I have gone back to sailing because after watching his third gold medal attempt last summer in Beijing, reminded me of when I first went sailing ten years before. The America's Cup is the biggest goal on Ainslie's horizon and thank God, we have a brilliant sailor who could bring the famous cup back to Britain. Besides everything he has achieved, he has remained modest and down to earth. Take my word for it and read his story. He's the best thing that has ever happened to British sailing for a long time.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
5.0 out of 5 stars Five Stars
I am totally satisfied. Book in very good contition
Published 1 month ago by Graham Jefferies
5.0 out of 5 stars a suprisingly interesting book
some sports biographies are in my opinion not very good but this is fascinating and well written-it gives a real insight into the drama of sailing competitions-his private life is... Read more
Published 5 months ago by C. F. Legge
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply inspiring
Couldn't put it down - a must read for all young sailors and a real inspiration to everyone, sailor or not
Published 6 months ago by Mrs Fiona Fry
5.0 out of 5 stars good book
This item arrived within estimated time, well package & in excellent condition.
This book was bought as a present & the person has very much enjoyed reading it.
Published 6 months ago by L M
5.0 out of 5 stars Nehru
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Published 7 months ago by church
5.0 out of 5 stars inspiring read
Although I never made Olympic or even national status on the sailing circuit. There is a lot of what Ben talks about that I can relate to in those early days of sailing. Read more
Published 10 months ago by mark_duffy7
4.0 out of 5 stars Interesting read
It's good to see how someone so successful has got to where they are. A good read and well written.
Published 11 months ago by Mr. K. A. Matthews
5.0 out of 5 stars Sir 'amazing' Ben
I have only reached chapter 2 and already feel part of the story. Can't wait to read the rest of it.
Published 12 months ago by Ms. D. A. Hearn
5.0 out of 5 stars great book
This was a present for my husband who enjoyed it. It has now been passed on to another family member who is a keen dinghy sailor.
Published 19 months ago by A Garrison
4.0 out of 5 stars Shows what sailing is about
Brings sailing to a new light for non sailors. Cracking read and had trouble putting it down.

Nice one Ben.
Published 20 months ago by Rachel Saunt
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