Paige Railey Wins Gold Medal at Princess Sofia Trophy in Palma, Spain
PORTSMOUTH, R.I. - US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (USSTAG) member Paige Railey (Clearwater) won a gold medal 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, has started 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 fourth 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 Midwinter's East in Clearwater, they flipped finishes and Paige won gold and Anna won silver.
The Princess Sofia Trophy is the third stop on the inaugural International Sailing Federation (ISAF) Sailing World Cup 2008-2009 circuit, bringing together th e 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 HyŤres France, which starts April 18, 2009. It is the fourth event in the ISAF Sailing World Cup.
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