London (AFP) – British four-time Olympic champion Ben Ainslie says he realised a lifelong dream by inspiring Oracle Team USA to an improbable win in the America's Cup.
Ainslie replaced John Kostecki as Oracle's tactician ahead of races six and seven last week, and the move proved inspired as with his guile and expertise Oracle recovered from an 8-1 deficit to overhaul Emirates Team New Zealand 9-8 to clinch sailing's greatest prize on Wednesday.
"To be part of a winning America's Cup team is for me personally part of a lifelong dream," the 36-year-old told BBC Radio 5.
He added: "I grew up down in Falmouth in Cornwall, we had an America's Cup team down there in 1987 and I remember as a kid watching them training and preparing and thinking about maybe one day being involved with the America's Cup."
Explaining the secret to Oracle's gripping success Ainslie said: "We never stopped believing we could improve and get back into the competition.
"It got harder and harder for us, but ultimately we hung on in there and won that deciding race, so the team did an incredible job.
"We just grew and grew and in the end we were too strong for the Kiwis."
Ainslie's elevation from the warm-up crew to replace Kostecki was a crucial catalyst in turning Oracle's fortunes around to achieve one of the greatest comebacks in sporting history.
"It was a pretty big shift," the Briton said on BBC One.
"It was a big call for the management to make, but I gelled really well with Jimmy Spithill, the skipper of the team, we got stuck into the challenge and we turned things around.
"It's quite unbelievable to think where we were 10 days ago, to come back from that."
He dedicated the win to his late friend Andrew Simpson.
British Olympian Simpson, known as Bart, was killed in a training accident in May, an event which so shocked the sport that there were questions over whether the 34th America's Cup would even take place.
"I finished the race today, one of the most amazing races I've ever been a part of, but myself and I think a couple of other guys on the boat, our thoughts are with Andrew and his family," he said on Sky Sports News.
"That race today was for him and he would have loved it."
Ainslie believes the thrilling racing from the pair of state-of-the-art catamarans has won sailing a new set of fans.
"It's been great for our sport," he added.
"To see these boats tearing around at 50mph, the effort that's gone into the TV production and the footage that we've seen and these two amazing teams racing against each other I think is something we've never seen in our sport.
"It sets things up very nicely for the future, it's very exciting."
And Ainslie wants that future to involve Britain.
He added: "The America's Cup started in the UK in 1851, we've never had it back since, so it's about time we changed that."