A few minutes later, the most successful sailor in Olympics history waved a Union Jack as the home crowd roared from the Weymouth waterfront.
Ainslie won his fourth straight gold medal and fifth games medal overall Sunday to eclipse Denmark's Paul Elvstrom as the most decorated sailing Olympian ever. Elvstrom won four straight gold medals from 1948-60, including three in the Finn class.
Ainslie has never sailed an easy route to gold, and Sunday was no different.
The son of a sailor, Ainslie clinched the historic gold by finishing ninth in the Finn class medals race on Weymouth Bay in front of a large, partisan crowd, many of them waving the Union Jack.
All Ainslie had to do was finish ahead of Denmark's Jonas Hoegh--, who had led the London Olympics regatta from Race 1. The Dane finished 10th and took the silver.
As he crossed the finish line, Ainslie began to celebrate. After Hoegh-Christensen crossed in last, the Dane slumped in his boat.
Still, Ainslie needed a bit of help to clinch gold. With Ainslie and Hoegh-Christensen dueling at the back of the fleet, Pieter-Jan Postma of the Netherlands could have swooped in and won gold. Postma needed to get into third place to spoil Ainslie's party, but fell back in the dying breeze and finished fifth.
That allowed France's Jonathan Lobert, who won the medals race, to take the bronze.