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Sail of the Century

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2:26pm 6th August 2012
(Updated 2:26pm 6th August 2012)

It is official: Cornwall rules the waves.

Restronguet's Ben Ainslie has sailed into the record books with a fourth gold medal.

It makes Ben the greatest Olympic sailor, ever.

He went into the final medal race having to beat the leader from Denmark. In a nail biting finish he beat him by one place. The largest ever crowd for a British sailing event saw him punch the air as he crossed the finish line.

As "Rule Britannia" played over speakers, Ben lit two orange smoke flares in victory before breaking out a union flag.

Ben said: “When I started sailing in Cornwall as an eight-year-old in my duffle coat and wellies I never imagined I’d be standing here 28 years later.

“So to any kids, you never quite know what’s going to happen — and that’s life.

"It's fantastic. What I feel right now is just gratitude to everyone who has helped me over the years get this far: As a kid growing up in Cornwall and coming through. To get here I owe a huge thanks."

A postbox is being turned gold outside the Pandora Inn and we will be able to buy a Ben Ainslie stamp from midday on Monday to celebrate his achievement.ben ainslie

Dad Roddy helped him learn to sail on the Carrick Roads. He said, "The whole thing has been a totally incredible performance. Every Olympic medal he has won has been incredible. It's been amazing."

There are calls to give Ben a knighthood after he helped make sure Cornwall has now won more gold medals than the whole of Australia.

Ben is refusing to rule out trying for a fifth gold in Rio in four years time, but he hinted his victory might herald the end of his Olympic career. He said: "I think it's unlikely I could keep sailing a Finn. It's pretty hard physically, I'm not sure my body could take much more of that. It's hard to say now whether this is the end of my Olympic road or not. I'll need to take that decision later on."

PM David Cameron said: “It’s brilliant and fitting that Ben Ainslie has become the greatest ever Olympic sailor right in front of his home crowd.”

Guy English is Commodore at Restronguet Sailing Club where Ben learnt his craft. He said: "You can be a nice guy, but you'd better not be a nice guy on the race course. He learnt that you have to be really hard, really ruthless and destroy the competition if you're going to be at that level.

"He's clearly technically very aware, he's tremendously fit and works very, very hard at that. He's immensely strong and can go on pumping his sails when some of the others are thinking, 'God this is hurting.'"

Two hundred people packed into the clubhouse to cheer Ben on during the make or break race on Sunday.

Thirteen year old Jack is a member. He said: "I think it should get young people out on the water. Anyone can do it. You just have to want to do it and believe you can do it and then you most probably will."

Watch tributes to the Cornish sailor from his team mates here...

2:26pm 6th August 2012

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