USA announces team for 2015 Pan American Games
Published on June 3rd, 2015
Portsmouth, RI (June 3, 2015) – US Sailing has released their team roster for the 2015 Pan American Sailing Games. Fourteen American sailors will compete in nine of the ten classes at the event this summer to be held in Toronto, Canada on July 10-26, 2015.
Exceeded in size by only the Olympic Games and Asian Games, the Pan American (or “Pan Am”) Games represents a chance for over 7,000 athletes from 41 eligible member nations to compete in 36 sports, including sailing. Overall, the United States Olympic Committee will send approximately 630 athletes to compete across a range of sports in Toronto.
“A formidable team of sailors will represent the United States at the Pan American Games in Toronto this July, including members of the US Sailing Team Sperry and three Pan Am Games medalists,” said Josh Adams, Managing Director of US Olympic Sailing. “We are preparing for top international competition in Toronto across the Olympic and non-Olympic classes. Several USA athletes will be racing for the podium. For the young sailors on this team, the experience of competing alongside veteran teammates like Paige Railey and Augie Diaz will provide a unique opportunity in their sailing.”
Members of the U.S. Pan American Sailing Team will be supported by US Sailing with coaching from the US Sailing Team Sperry (Olympic program) staff, weather analysis, physio support, as well as a logistics operation before and during competition.
Returning for her third Pan Am Games in the Laser Radial will be Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.). The 2012 Olympian, ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and World, North American and European Champion won gold at the Pan Am Games in Rio de Janeiro in 2007, and followed up with a bronze medal in Guadalajara, Mexico in 2011.
“I love the Pan Am Games because it’s great preparation for the Olympic Games. It is only every 4 years, has a smaller fleet, and the racing is always very close on points,” said Railey. “Also, seeing the other athletes in the village is another fun experience. We get to talk and learn about new sports. It’s going to be a great event on my road to Rio 2016.”
The 2011 Pan Am silver medal-winning team in the Snipe class of Augie Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Kathleen Tocke (Miami, Fla.) will also return. Diaz is a familiar name in American sailing, and won US Sailing’s Rolex Yachtsman of the Year award in 2003. Diaz is also a two-time Snipe World Champion and US College Sailor of the Year. Tocke is a three-time Snipe North American Champion, a five-time US Snipe National Champion, and has made the US Sailing Team Sperry in an impressive four different classes (49erFX, RS:X, Europe and Snipe) over the last four Olympic cycles.
Laser North American Champion and two-time ICSA College Sailor of the Year Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) will compete in his first Pan Am Games, and said he is relishing the opportunity. One challenge, however, will come in the form of minimal rest between the conclusion of the Laser World Championship in Kingston, Ontario (Canada) and the beginning of Toronto 2015.
“I will have three days between the last race of the Worlds and first race of the Pan American Games,” said Buckingham. “Both the Worlds and Pan Ams are 7 day regattas, so three days of recovery isn’t much, but I know what I’m getting into and incredibly excited for both events.”
Coaching Buckingham will be Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.) who in addition to winning three Olympic medals (two gold and a silver) in the Star class, won the Pan Am Games in 1979 in the Snipe. “I am really privileged to be working with Mark,” said Buckingham. “He brings a lot of experience in performing at the highest level of sailing and I’m curious to hear his thoughts on my racing.”
The 49erFX high-performance skiff class will be making its Pan Am debut at Toronto 2015, and US Sailing Team Sperry athletes Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.) will be the first Americans to race the class at a major international Games. The pair said they are honored represent their country and the U.S. Pan American Sailing Team, and that preparation is already well underway.
“Physically, we expect it to be a light wind event so we will make big improvements to our light wind boathandling, boatspeed, and strategy,” said Scutt. “The biggest strides could likely be mental. Most of that has to do with the well-deserved excitement, hype, and media surrounding the Pan Ams that is also characteristic of the Olympics. We’ll get the experience of living in an athlete village and the Pan Ams Opening Ceremony will be the closest experience we’ll have had to that of the Olympic Games.”
As part of their full-time Olympic campaign, Henken and Scutt have 49erFX boats scattered across the globe, but none are close to Canada. In order to compete in Toronto, they looked to Oakcliff Sailing (Oyster Bay, New York) for help, a US Sailing Team Sperry Training Center.
“We are so grateful to Oakcliff Sailing for providing us with most of our equipment for the Pan Am Games,” said Scutt. “This event happens to be right in between a bunch of major regattas in Europe and South America, so it was going to be next to impossible to use one of our own boats. Oakcliff has been very generous to us and our whole team throughout our campaign.”
Athletes must be U.S. citizens to qualify for the team. Since sailing was included in the Pan American Games in 1955, the United States has won 78 medals in sailing: 33 gold, 27 silver and 18 bronze.
Toronto 2015 U.S. Pan American Sailing Team:
RS:X Men: Carson Crain (Houston, Texas)
RS:X Women: Marion Lepert (Belmont, Calif.)
Laser Men: Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.)
Laser Radial Women: Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.)
49er FX: Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.)
Snipe: Augie Diaz (Miami, Fla.) and Kathleen Tocke (Buffalo, N.Y.)
Hobie 16: Mark Modderman (Long Branch, N.J.) and Grace Modderman (Rumson, N.J.)
Lightning: Justin Coplan (Nyack, N.Y.), Danielle Prior (Mechanicsburg, Penn.) and Caroline Patten (Barnegat Light, N.J.)
Sunfish: Conner Blouin (Tampa, Fla.)
Note: The United States did not qualify for the Pan Am Games in the J/24 class.
Team Leader: Josh Adams (Litchfield, Conn.)
Head Coach: Luther Carpenter (La Porte, Texas)
Coach: Mark Littlejohn (Brighton, UK)
Coach: Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.)
Source: US Sailing