Zach Railey: Testing The Saddle

Published on November 16th, 2015

When the 2015 Finn Gold Cup commences this week in Takapuna, New Zealand, amid the fleet will be one notable American – 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey. However, for Railey what is notable is that he is competing at all.

Railey has not competed in a Finn since the 2012 Olympics when he finished a disappointing 12th. What has brought him back again now? “I’m not sure what to call this…let’s say it’ a trip around the old block for fun and to see what I’ve got left in the tank.”

“I really missed sailing, especially in the Finn and the guys on the circuit. Second I’ve been working a ton and needed to add back some balance and get my health and fitness back under control. What better way than to go sailing and get back in the gym and have something to aim for like racing at the worlds.

“I am already down over 20 kg in weight and feel great health wise so it’s been goal accomplished on that end. Third, a bunch of my good friends and new friends decided to come train in Clearwater so why not join them?”

The group training in the US included 2012 silver medalist Høgh-Christensen (DEN), along with 2010 world champion, Ed Wright (GBR) and 2014 Junior world champion, Anders Pedersen (NOR), so it was a good indication of likely form at the Gold Cup.

“Zach is Zach and his talent is obvious,” Høgh-Christensen commented. “I am surprised at how well he has been doing during practice. Yes, he is a bit rusty, but the boat is moving well and he is getting around the race course really well.

“I think his perspective has changed and he is a much more complete sailor today than in 2012 even though he hasn’t sailed a lot. He really looks like he is having fun and he knows what it takes to become one of the best in the class. It will be fun to follow his progress over the next 2-4 months.”

Railey explained that in the end the decision was easy. “The guys were here in town and had set up training. I just joined in on their programme and it’s worked nicely for me. I can still meet my business obligations and get time on the water and at the gym. Just sailing at home it felt like I could get around the race course relatively well.

“Also I needed to travel to Australia for a personal and business trip the week after the Worlds so why not sail if I am down there. Things just seem to fall into place sometimes. So, I’ve been sailing as much as possible and also hitting the gym as much as I can. Again, this is more of a personal challenge than anything else for me and I’m enjoying it.”

Does he have longer terms plans in the class for Rio? “The US selection will be based on Miami and the Europeans next year, but that’s is a long time away from now. I am just doing this for myself and pushing to see what I can do. I’m honestly not worried about what chances I have because that doesn’t change why I did this in the first place.”

While Høgh-Christensen has two Finn Gold Cup victories under his belt already, in 2006 and 2009, Railey’s best result was as runner-up, to Høgh-Christensen in 2009. If ever there was unfinished business this is it.

The Pre-worlds regatta is November 17-19, with the Finn Gold Cup on November 24-29. Ten races are scheduled from November 24 to November 28, with the medal race and final race on November 29. Event details.

Report by Robert Deaves.

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