50 Most Marketable 2012 - Ben Ainslie
Ben Ainslie - British, 35, Sailing (New)
Already a triple Olympic gold medallist, Britain’s Ben Ainslie has long been tipped as one of the home team’s stars of this year’s Games in London – or, in the case of the sailing events, Weymouth.
More Olympic success beckons in the Finn class, to follow golds in Sydney, Athens and Beijing, but Ainslie already has one eye on what comes next. In January he confirmed he is creating his own team, Ben Ainslie Racing, to launch an assault on sailing’s grandest prize, the America’s Cup. Post-Olympics, Ben Ainslie Racing will enter the America’s Cup World Series. Ainslie then plans to join Oracle Racing, the US defender, for the Cup match itself in September 2013 before leading a British challenge for the 35th Cup with his own team.
With its key stakeholders investing more than ever in broadcast technologies, Ainslie is joining the America’s Cup as it lies on the cusp of finally becoming a genuine television product, although his easy-going manner and eloquence mark him out as something of a sponsor’s dream in any case. He already has a highly structured collection of sponsors including, unusually for an individual, a title partner in JP Morgan Asset Management and an airline partner in British Airways. They and other sponsors – Volvo, UBS, Prada, Corum and Henri Lloyd – appear to be sitting pretty as Ainslie makes the transition to sailor-CEO.