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! (and long may that last - at least till the AC's in British hands)
Not quite un-put-down'able (unless you've really got nothing else to do, as I didn't), but still a page-turner (unless you've got no arms) and certainly an enjoyable read.
Oh and, like Dame Ellen, he was bullied at school. So the finest two contemporary British sailors both kicked off by having their heads flushed down the loo. Hurrah for the British education system. If you want your kids to be world class sailors the message is clear - get them rubbish haircuts, ill fitting clothes, move halfway across the country and send them to a rough state school. It worked for me. Apart from the world class bit.
And at least he finished this one, unlike "Ben Ainslie's Laser Campaign Manual" which reads like he got bored, said `sod it', and fired it off to the undiscerning publishers half-finished. That really wasn't worth the wonga - this one certainly is.