World of Sport

Sir Ben Ainslie to ‘break record’ to recognise Olympian’s tragic death

Ben Ainslie and Andrew 'Bart' Simpson

It has been quite a year for Ben Ainslie, who inspired one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history when Oracle Team USA fought back from the brink to beat Team New Zealand in a dramatic America’s Cup finale.

Britain’s greatest sailor came onboard with the Americans trailing 8-1 and duly produced, along with his team, the most unlikely run of wins imaginable to secure a tense win by 44 seconds in a winner-takes-all clash.

But it has also been a heartbreaking and desperately sad year for the four-time Olympic gold medallist.

Ainslie lost his great friend and fellow Olympian Andrew 'Bart' Simpson, who tragically drowned while competing in the very same event - the America's Cup.

With his sailing partner Iain Percy, Simpson won a gold medal at the Beijing Games and a silver at London 2012. Ainslie now wants to recognise his friend and fellow distinguished Olympic champion.

He has unveiled plans to stage the world’s biggest sailing race in honour of 'Bart'.

The event, called 'Bart’s Bash', aims to unite sailors and clubs around the country to take part in a simultaneous dinghy race to break a world record.

"We have been overwhelmed with the support from the sailing community for the Andrew Simpson Sailing Foundation," Ainslie said.

"We firmly hope this event will inspire sailors young and old, beginners to professionals, with clubs getting involved to capture people’s imagination and create thousands of Guinness World Record Holders."

Percy added: "I am positive that it will not only receive enormous support from the UK but worldwide support too.

"It’s going to be a colossal event and a great fun way to get thousands of people on the water at the same time whilst raising money for the foundation.”

The event is planned to correspond with what would have been Simpson’s 37th birthday - on September 21. It is to be officially launched on February 1.