Because Georgie gave up her career so that Ben could sail the seas

Ben Ainslie: “I’m still motivated to succeed, but I can’t be so selfish anymore – David Rose / Telegraph

There is a segment at the end of Ben and Georgie Ainslie’s new podcast, “Performance People,” in which they ask their guests for advice in life.

Barry Hearn, the bombastic former sports promoter who joins his son and heir Eddie in today’s first episode, offers this nugget: “You can’t do a one-foot-on-the-ground carousel. Either you are in it, or you are out of it. But if you are in it, you are in it with passion. Don’t tell me: ‘I’m tired!’ Don’t tell me: ‘I haven’t seen the children!’ Either you are in it, or you are out there “.

As a mantra for success, it’s probably not one that many sports psychologists these days would recommend, as it seems as likely to lead to exhaustion or divorce as to peak performance. But it is one that at least Ben Ainslie could recognize. The four-time Olympic champion was, notoriously, one of the most resolute sportsmen in Great Britain at his time on a rubber dinghy; intense, uncompromising. His fierce competitiveness and willingness to win helped him destroy his rivals mentally as well as physically.

Since retiring from Olympic sailing, Ainslie has been no less motivated; winning the America’s Cup with Oracle Team USA in 2013 before founding his own team, Ineos Britannia, who has now joined forces with Mercedes F1 and is struggling to bring the Auld Mug back to Britain for the first time in 171 years of history of the competition. It is a herculean task. But here’s the problem: Ainslie has other responsibilities in his life now. He has a wife, Georgie, the former Sky Sports host. He is the father of two children.

When I arrive at Georgie’s parents’ house in Hertfordshire, where they spend half of the semester (even hardened Olympic champions need the help of their in-laws) it’s 8pm and Ben is on a conference call in the US in a room, six One-year-old Bellatrix is ​​doing some coloring on the kitchen table, and one-year-old Fox is upstairs being given her bedtime bottle. Basically, there are a lot of dishes running in the Ainslie house. So, is Ben still fully on that merry-go-round? Or does he have one foot on the ground these days?

“Hmm, good question,” says Georgie. Ben thinks about it for a moment. “I’d say I’m still just as motivated,” she finally replies. “But I think the thing is, you can’t operate for 25 years at the level of intensity I was used to. I’m not the same person I was when I was 20. I was able to be more selfish, more blinders. I had to adapt. I am now in charge of a team of people, not just myself. I have a family. The key is to find the right balance so that you can still perform at the highest level. I’m still learning.”

In what is a crowded marketplace, the Ainslie hope that the format of their podcast – they ask each of their guests to bring a significant other into their life, for a four-way chat with the two of them – will prove a winner. This week it’s the Hearns, next week Mercedes team principal Toto Wolff and his wife Susie. It is not even exclusively sport. Alastair Campbell and his partner Fiona Millar attended the podcast, which they record from their kitchen in Wimbledon rather than in person, and which they film too. “We prioritized receiving great guests rather than bringing them face to face,” says Georgie. “Usually something has to give.”

Ben Ainslie:

Ben Ainslie: “I’m still motivated to succeed, but I can’t be so selfish anymore – Ben Ainslie

Ben is perhaps not the first sportsman you might think of as a natural podcast host; naturally shy, preferring not to give interviews at all. But Georgie is adamant that he holds the key to unlocking their guests. “If it were just me interviewing another reporter it wouldn’t be that interesting,” he says. “But the moment you add another sportsman to the equation, and then you put your guest with the person he brought with him, the dynamic changes.” To prove his point, Georgie tells the story of an awards dinner a few years ago when he was at a table with Jose Mourinho and couldn’t get him to open up. “I was trying everything, and he had none of it until Ben came and sat down and they started talking about the siege mentality. They chewed each other’s ears for the rest of the night.

“For his sanity, Ben must win the America’s Cup for Great Britain”

Ben, for his part, admits he needs some persuasion. He has agreed in part to appease his wife. “He’s been supporting my career the whole time we’ve been together, raising children, and that’s something he wants to do and he’s brilliant,” he says. But he says he found the process increasingly rewarding.

“Spending time with other couples like this … like Susie and Toto, for example, both very busy doing other projects, but spending quality time together. You learn a lot ”. The Wolffs are fine. There is a funny exchange in which Susie reveals that Toto once described her as a “donkey” for her more skittish “racehorse”, a revelation that clearly embarrasses the boss Mercedes. “I didn’t say donkey!” he protests as Susie laughs at her embarrassment. “I said a Haflinger! It is a kind of Austrian pony. They have these hairy legs. They come and go ”. Susie mimics someone digging a hole.

It’s late. Those dishes won’t spin on their own. Ainslie has morning meetings, then it’s Mallorca to launch the test boat, then Dubai for SailGP in a couple of weeks. He will move to Barcelona next spring to organize the field for the 37th Cup in 2024. This time Georgie will not accompany him, unlike New Zealand last time.

“Bellatrix is ​​in school now, which makes things more difficult,” she says. “We are entering a different dynamic in our relationship, which will require work. But I think this podcast can help. It will unite us even when we’re apart. “Some kind of couples therapy?” I think. It is not easy to juggle everything. Like any couple, we blow up every now and then. We have moments of frustration on both sides, mostly I think because of the level of intensity Ben works with. Is full.

“I’m like, ‘Ben is 45 now, when is this ever going to end?'” And the answer? How long can he keep both feet on that merry-go-round? Ben looks a little nervously at his wife. “Still a good question,” she replies. “I think I really want him to get what he wants to get, also because I think if he doesn’t he would make our lives hell. So, for his sanity, but also for ours, I feel that he has to do what he set out to do, which is to win the America’s Cup for Great Britain. “

Listen to the first episode at playpodca.st/performancepeople or www.ainslieandainslie.com

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