Ben Ainslie on Sailor of the Year shortlist

Ben Ainslie
Ainslie has won three gold medals during his career

Ben Ainslie is in the running to be named the International Sailing Federation's Sailor of the Year for a fourth time.

Ainslie, 34, has been shortlisted after a season in which he became both Match Racing and ISAF Sailing World Cup champion.

He previously won the Sailor of the Year accolade in 1998, 2002 and 2008.

Britain's Dee Caffari and Alexandra Rickham are finalists in the women's category after strong seasons.

Finn sailor Ainslie, who heads a five-strong men's shortlist, is one of Britain's leading Olympic gold medal hopes at London 2012.

Rickham, who first sailed as part of her rehabilitation from a diving accident in 1995, won her third consecutive IFDS Disabled Sailing World title in July. A few weeks later she clinched the 2010-11 ISAF Sailing World Cup title.

This year Caffari, 38, became the first woman to have sailed non-stop around the world three times.

The winners, to be picked by the national governing bodies for sailing from around the world, will be announced at the ISAF World Sailor of the Year awards in Puerto Rico on November 8.