OLYMPIC double gold medallist yachtsman Ben Ainslie paid an informal visit on Friday to Truro School where he was a pupil until 1994.

Among the young competitive sailors he met was current Hobie Cat World Champion Jon Cook who, with his sailing partner Josh Phipps at Penair School, has his eyes on the Olympic Games in 2012.

Ben also met Eddy Powys and Will Morgan (both aged 17, from Truro) who are in the GB team in 420s and represented Truro School in winning the Independent Schools UK Championship last summer.

Ben Ainslie began his competitive sailing in Optimist dinghies at Restronguet Sailing Club, and so his visit was a great boost to the younger pupils who are following in his footsteps at Restronguet and hoping for national selection. They are Robin Elsey, 11, from Perranarworthal, James Grant, 11, from Mylor and George Wilson, 11, from Mawnan Smith.

Following lunch with the young sailors, Ben gave a short lecture to an audience of about 80 pupils and staff in the school's Burrell Theatre.

He gave an account of his sailing career since leaving the school and explained his current training as assistant skipper of the Emirates Team New Zealand entry in the 2007 America's Cup, which involves a crew of 17 on an 85-foot ocean-going yacht.

His next event with this team is in Valencia, Spain, in a couple of weeks. He was uncertain about whether his America's Cup commitment will allow him to put himself up for selection for the 2008 Beijing Olympics in the Finn Class.

Deputy headmaster Simon Price said it was a great honour to welcome back such a distinguished former pupil. "We are very lucky indeed and grateful to Ben personally for giving up his precious time during a fleeting visit to his parents on holiday in Helford.

"During the school's 125th anniversary year, it's a great boost to welcome back such an inspiring high-achiever. "The pupils were able to hold those Olympic medals in their own hands, and one or two of them may well climb the ladder of competitive sailing themselves, so I am sure they are now more determined than ever."