When your country is surrounded by water, you learn to swim or sail.
For Britain's Ben Ainslie the choice was sailing, and ever since, Ainslie has been the man to beat. Ainslie will attempt an unprecedented fourth straight gold medal—and fifth consecutive overall—in London, a feat he looks poised to accomplish after winning the 2010 World Match Racing Tour. Finn has been kind to the Macclesfield native, with Ainslie taking the top prize in five of seven World Cups, finishing second and fourth in his other two attempts.
However, Ainslie may also very well be the bad boy of sailing, having been disqualified from a 2011 event in protest after climbing aboard a television boat to argue with a cameraman after the media vessel appeared to have interfered with Ainslie's progress during the final downwind leg. Right or wrong, Ainslie is a competitor and will be the one to beat.
Meanwhile, after Israeli Olympian Gal Fridman put the coastline state on the international map with a windsurfing gold in 2004—Israel's first-ever gold medal—Lee Korzits hopes to repeat the performance on the women's side. A windsurfer ever since she could walk, Korzits described the sport's appeal: "I feel the water in my veins. I get a silence on the water that I cannot get on land."
Korzits will race in her second Olympics, hoping to gain gold nearly 10 years after becoming the youngest world champion, with a Spain win in 2003. In 2009, Korzits broke two ribs after a collision with another surfer, while in 2010 she nearly drowned in Poland after being knocked off her board at the European Championships.
Meanwhile, Brazilians Robert Scheidt and partner Bruno Prada hope to capture gold in the men's star class. Scheidt is a former world junior winner (1991) and owns three Olympic medals, including a 1996 Atlanta gold.
Prada teamed with Scheidt prior to the 2008 games and the duo captured silver in their first go-around. In all, Prada and Scheidt have won seven of nine star class competitions over the past year and are ranked as the best in the world.