Meet the crew | Ben Cornish


Ben Cornish grew up sailing on the Exe Estuary and from an early age had ambitions to compete at the Olympics. As a rising star in the British Sailing Team, first competing in the Laser followed by the Finn class - the single-handed heavyweight dinghy – there was potential for Olympic selection, until the class lost its Olympic status for Paris 2024.

The news forced Ben to take an unexpected change in direction, the America’s Cup, joining former Finn trainer partner and Olympic gold medallist Giles Scott for his first America’s Cup campaign. Ben is one of only two INEOS TEAM UK ‘Rebels’, a full-time sailing intern, immersed within and receiving support from the senior sailing team. 


Who inspired you to start sailing?

Growing up in Exmouth there were plenty of fantastic sailors. As a youngster hearing from Joe Glanfield, Stevie Morrison, Ben Rhodes and Conrad Humphries all made me dream of becoming a sailor.

First boat: 

A mirror dinghy 

First Sailing Club?

Exe Sailing Club.

What do you love most about sailing?

No two days are the same and what it takes to excel on a given day must all come together at the right time.

What has sailing taught you?

Expect the unexpected, how to learn from hard times and enjoy every second on the water.

Favourite ever sailing race?

Has to be a day at the Finn Europeans in Cadiz 2018. Big waves and 20 knots of wind, the only day ever I have won two races in one day at a major.

How do you keep going when you're on the limit?

I enjoy the physicality which sailing requires. I always push myself hard and remember that if you’re hurting, so is everybody else! 

Career highlight: 

Winning Gold in the Finn at the World Cup Final in Santander (2017). Racing in front of the city in a gripping medal race and winning by the narrowest of margins.

Best advice: 

If you enjoy something, stick at it and find a way of pursuing it.

What other sports do you play now?

I am an eager cyclist, I have always enjoyed getting out on my bike. I am an avid football fan and support Manchester United.

Funniest team mate at INEOS TEAM UK: 

Giles Scott, I have spent countless hours sharing hotel rooms with him and pranking each other around the globe, I’m sure this won’t stop anytime soon!

© Lloyd Images / Mark Lloyd

“My earliest memory of sailing was along the Exmouth seafront with a family friend at the age of seven. I hated every second of it and made such a fuss I got out at the end of the seafront and walked home in my wetsuit.

“There was no particular reason why I didn’t like it, maybe it was being a long way from land and not being able to get back! Thankfully, I gave it another shot and then around nine I got involved with the junior programmes and started to fall in love with it.

“Out of my parents it’s my mum who enjoys sailing, mainly for fun, but there was also a lot of support from club members – they taught me the basics of sailing and racing and helped to play a big part in getting me where I am today.”  

As a young sailor, competing out of Exe there were a number of successful and inspiring sailors who were already competing on the World Championship and Olympic circuits, the likes of double Olympic silver medallist Joe Glanfield, Stevie Morrison and Ben Rhodes, and they left their mark on the young Ben.

 “As a young sailor seeing their progression and success set an early benchmark. You really wanted to follow their path and at the time they were really inspiring for all us all youngsters, it definitely drove me to wanting to do more and more of it.”  

Ben quickly moved into the cadet class, spending weekends with his parents driving all over the UK to compete. Eventually aged 19, after being selected for the British Sailing Team, he began full time sailing in the single-handed Laser class. In the four years he spent with the team he was selected to represent Great Britain at three consecutive World Championships.

His first experience of the America’s Cup was while he was Laser sailing, “It was around when Giles [Scott] and some of the British Sailing team guys were going off to their initial intro in Cup racing, it was really at that point I started to follow various teams and see what it was all about. Then when Ben Ainslie Racing first formed back in 2014, having a home team to follow was really interesting and I got more into it.

It was also in 2014 when an opportunity to move into the heavy weight Finn class arose and Ben left the Laser squad. The change in class was a big transition, physically going from 80KG up to 95KG but it was also a period of time which allowed him to grow and learn more about different types of sailing. It was then, two years out from Rio 2016, that he also became training partner to Giles Scott, who went on to become the 2016 Olympic Champion.

“The Laser was good for tactical racing but the Finn is much more technical and you can change and develop the boat to fit your size and build, so it requires a lot of testing. In the build-up to Rio for Giles’ campaign we spent endless hours trying to work out different equipment, different sails and rigs, it was all stuff that I hadn’t been put into contact with before.”

© Dan Wilko

Ben enjoyed success in the class, winning a gold medal at the Finn World Cup Final in Santander but in 2018, the Finn lost its Olympic status for Paris 2024. So, he took an unexpected change in direction, the America’s Cup.

“The Cup was always something I wanted to progress to, but I wasn’t sure when it would happen. The decision for the Finn to be removed as an Olympic class accelerated my need to look for another direction within the sport and I’m hugely grateful for the opportunity I’ve been given within the team, to learn from the other experienced guys and integrate into their world.”   

The transition from Finn to AC75 is even greater than Laser to Finn and the training and fitness regime is also amplified; “the main difference is during the Olympic campaign you were the manager of all areas of your sailing campaign, so the time you got to focus on your fitness was reduced, especially when you needed to focus on other areas such as boat development.

Whereas now a big focus for us sailors is on the physical challenge – so much so that you can almost give 100% to it. It’s a really different programme for me, to train together as a team, but it’s great to have that support. My role on board will most likely involve some grinding - so there’s a lot of hours spent in the gym on the grinding machine at the moment!”   

Ben’s favourite venue to sail in the world? Auckland, New Zealand. Something that will surely stand him in good stead come the 36th America’s Cup.