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Paige Railey Wins Gold Medal at Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Spain
Portsmouth, R.I. (April 10, 2009) – US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) member Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) won a gold medal today in a competitive Laser Radial fleet of 62 boats at the Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Railey, the 2006 ISAF Yachtswoman of the Year and US SAILING’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, is starting her 2012 Olympic campaign off with a bang.
“This gold medal feels amazing because I just started sailing full-time again in January,” said Railey, who took most of 2008 off to concentrate on college. “It is the best feeling to come back and put everything I had into this event.”
The conditions in Palma were less than amenable this week, offering low pressure and shifty sea and big breezes of 5 to 15 knots. However, the tricky and challenging conditions didn’t stop the USSTAG from delivering top results. Going into the medal race, the racing was very close for the top ten Laser Radial sailors, but the iffy conditions caused sailors to either make huge ground or fall back. Railey finished sixth in the medal race, which locked in her gold medal ahead of Spain’s Susana Romero and Czechoslovakia’s Veronika Fenciova.
“I am working toward the future now and setting new goals and trying new things,” added Railey, who has been training with fellow USSTAG teammate Anna Tunnicliffe (Plantation, Fla.) for the past few months to sharpen their on-the-water boat skills and starts. Railey said one of her strengths this regatta was her midline starts, which is out of character for her. She admits she was, at first, nervous to try them: “I gained the confidence to start in the middle of the line,” she said, which “was a pretty big feat for me.”
“To see how my training has worked is one of the most satisfying feelings,” said Railey, who will head home to study for a statistics exam at the University of South Florida, where she’s a junior. She will return to Europe in June to compete at Kiel Week, the fifth ISAF Sailing World Cup event, with her brother, Zach Railey, the 2008 Olympic Silver Medalist in the Finn class. Paige said she frequently talked to Zach this week, who gave her tips and advice. “It’s nice I can share this with him even though he’s not here,” she said.
Tunnicliffe, the 2008 US SAILING’s Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and 2008 Olympic Gold Medalist, stayed on top of the Radial fleet for most of the week but slipped to fifth on Thursday. She finished second today in the medal race, putting her in sixth place overall. Their past three major events show how talented these two Laser Radial sailors are: At US SAILING’s 2009 Rolex Miami OCR, Anna won gold and Paige won silver, and at the 2009 Midwinters East in Clearwater, Fla., they flipped finishes and Paige won gold and Anna won silver.
In the Men’s 470 class, Stu McNay (Newton, Mass.) and Graham Biehl (San Diego, Calif.) sailed one of the best medal races of their career with a second place, moving them up to fifth place overall. This is their third consecutive top-five finish in the three ISAF Sailing World Cup events: They won silver medals at both Sail Melbourne in December and US SAILING’s 2009 Rolex Miami OCR in January.
In the Laser class, Clay Johnson (Toms River, N.J.) and Brad Funk (Plantation, Fla.) finished 17th and 30th, respectively, in a heavy fleet of 134 boats. The fleet was very competitive, which didn’t allow for a single mistake. Both USSTAG members had some excellent starts, which were their focus, but they weren’t able to take advantage of their speed in the shifty conditions.
After losing a protest on the last day of racing for hitting a mark, the Women’s 470 team of Molly Carapiet (Belvedere, Calif.) and Molly O’Bryan Vandemoer (Redwood City, Calif.) dropped from 13th to 21st place overall. However, “their results far from reflect the improvements they have made,” said Kenneth Andreasen (Tampa, Fla.), the Olympic Sailing Program’s High Performance Director and Head Coach. “They have worked really hard and made some good decisions. If they continue to work like this, they’ll take some bigger steps forward in the future.”
“We are sailing more assertively, making better decisions, and our speed and handling are continuing to improve,” Carapiet and O’Bryan Vandemoer wrote in their email newsletter.
Another member of the USSTAG, Finn sailor Bryan Boyd (Annapolis, Md.) finished 11th out of 47 boats overall, which is one of his best results at such a competitive event. “Bryan has worked very hard, physically and on the technical aspects of the boat,” said Andreasen. “His hard work is paying off.”
USSTAG’s Erik Storck (Huntington, N.Y.) and Trevor Moore (N. Pomfret, Vt.) finished 21st out of 50 boats in the 49er fleet, while 2008 Olympian Ben Barger finished 33rd out of 77 in the Men’s RS:X fleet. In the Star class, USA’s Mark Mendelblatt and Mark Strube finished seventh, and Andrew MacDonald and Brian Fatih finished 10th in a 12-boat fleet.
“It was really great to see the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics working together as a team this week,” said Andreasen. “Everything is slowly improving. This is a long process, which will, in the end, come out with really good results.”
The Princess Sofia Trophy is the third stop on the inaugural International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 circuit, bringing together the world’s top Olympic and Paralympic class competitors. The Princess Sofia Trophy also launches a busy and competitive summer season in Europe for members of the USSTAG and their international competitors. Next up is French Olympic Sailing Week in Hyères France, which starts April 18, 2009. It is the fourth event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
For more information about the 2009 USSTAG, including bios and photos, please visit the new team web site, http://sailingteams.ussailing.org. For complete results from the Princess Sofia Trophy, please visit the event web site, www.trofeoprincesasofia-mapfre.org/portada.php, or ISAF's web site, www.sailing.org.
About the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and US SAILING
The US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US SAILING), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. The top three boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class are selected annually to be members of the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics. US SAILING supports these elite athletes with funding, coaching and training. The title sponsor of the team is AlphaGraphics; other sponsors include Rolex, Atlantis WeatherGear, LaserPerformance, Harken and Team McLube. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US SAILING is a 501(c)(3) non-profit organization. US SAILING offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country. For more information about US SAILING, please visit: ussailing.org. For more information about the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics, please visit: sailingteams.ussailing.org.