Sir Ben thanks Branson for rescue

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Published: Tuesday 13th January 2015 by The News Editor

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Olympic sailing champion Sir Ben Ainslie and his wife Georgie Thompson have spoken of their gratitude to Sir Richard Branson after he came to their aid when their boat suffered mechanical problems during their honeymoon.

The newlyweds had been sailing close to Sir Richard’s Necker Island, in the British Virgin Islands, after tying the knot in December when their boat developed a problem with its sail furling system and they messaged for help.

Members of the island’s watersports team helped to cut the sail and prevent the stricken vessel being wrecked on a reef, and the multimillionaire Virgin tycoon duly invited them to stay on the island for a few days.

Four-time Olympic champion Sir Ben, 37, told Sky Sports News: “Unfortunately we had a mechanical failure with the mast furling system which, for just the two of us, was a bit much to try to fix on our own.

“We were very lucky that we were right next to Necker Island and some of the guys from the sailing centre, I have to say, were absolutely amazing and between the four of us we managed to sort out the situation.

“Then Richard very kindly phoned up and invited us over for dinner.”

Sir Ben married television sports presenter Thompson last month in a ceremony at Hampton Court Palace.

She told the broadcaster: “Dinner became a two-day stay which was lovely because right at the end of our honeymoon, having been on a boat for three weeks, I think that was very welcome that we were able to have a couple of days in luxury without any mechanical failures happening onboard.”

Sir Ben, the most decorated Olympic sailor in history, has won medals at each of the last five Olympics and in 2013 helped Oracle Team USA overturn an 8-1 deficit to win the America’s Cup.

He and Sir Richard have had troubles at sea together before, when they had to abandon an attempt to set an Atlantic crossing record in 2008 when powerful winds and high waves damaged their boat.

Sir Richard revealed the rescue yesterday, writing on his blog: “Together, the team helped to stop the boat from wrecking on the Moskito reef. With no harm done, Ben was able to see the funny side – after all, stranger things have happened at sea.”

Published: Tuesday 13th January 2015 by The News Editor

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