Paige Railey: Where it all began
Published on July 1st, 2014
Open to sailors aged 19 and under, the 2014 ISAF Youth Sailing World Championship takes place in Tavira, Portugal on July 12-19. Sixty-two nations intend to compete amid the 8 events.
American Paige Railey, now fully focused on an Olympic medal at the 2016 Games, competed at four ISAF Youth Worlds between 2001-2005, a time when the Laser Radial class produced a generation of top female sailors that have gone on to dominate the fleet and ranking list for almost a decade.
Railey was a star within this group winning two ISAF Youth Worlds gold’s and a bronze. Railey has had a high level of success with the pinnacle of her career representing the USA at the London 2012 Olympic Sailing Competition.
In 2005 Railey was at the top of her game, she won gold at the ISAF Youth Worlds taking six wins out of the eleven races. Following on from this Railey went onto win European Gold and finally, but most impressively, the Open World Championship title. This sprinkling of gold put her at a well-deserved World #1 ranking confirming her status as the world’s best in 2005.
“The Youth Worlds really taught me that I have to step up my game so that when I went to the Open Worlds I already knew what I had to bring,” commented Railey.
“We had a very high level and it was difficult sailing. I think it set the stage for me to think this is what I have to do to be the best in the world.”
Railey and her competitors in 2005, Lijia Xu (CHN) and Alison Young (GBR), have continued to lead the Laser Radial fleet for the past ten years. All three went onto race against each other at London 2012 as well as on the professional sailing circuit.
“Honestly during that time the girls at the Youth Worlds in South Korea were already the top in the World. Our Youth Worlds was almost like being at an Open World Championship.
“In our Youth Worlds days the guys who I compete against now are the ones I raced against then.”
Some of Railey’s career highlights include being named ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year 2006, she has won three of the last four Sailing World Cup Regattas in Miami, as well as medalling at four Laser Radial Women’s World Championships.
Much of her success was down to the ISAF Youth Worlds, the feeling of standing on the podium and the life lessons learnt.
“To this day they stand as my favourite events I’ve ever sailed.
“It starts you off teaching you what the expectations are and how you have to train. Now it’s exciting when I’m on top of the podium but then you’re like a little kid that’s in a candy shop. When you go up all your team mates are giddy and screaming. It’s just so brand new. You’ve never been up on the podium.”
Paige Railey conquered the Laser Radial fleet back at the 2002 Youth Worlds, since then she has proved to be one of the top sailors of her time as she looks forward to Rio 2016.
Racing at the 2014 ISAF Youth Worlds takes place in Tavira, Portugal on July 12-19. Event website: www.isafyouthworlds.com
Source: ISAF / Imogen Stanley