Railey vs Paine: Playing For Keeps

Published on March 18th, 2016

The Finn European championship on March 7-12 was the final Olympic selection event for USA which has a points-based system that uses the final finishing position in Sailing World Cup Miami and the Finn Europeans.

On the penultimate day of the Europeans (March 11), Zach Railey (USA) and Caleb Paine (USA) were neck and neck and locked together all through Race 5, but after the discard came into effect, Paine had a ten points lead. Then in Race 6, Railey got the perfect start at the pin and looked to have the advantage.

However, a poor second beat from him and a great one from Paine left them only a few boats apart at the final top mark. Then Railey got a yellow flag, and on the last run they started jousting and it looked like something was going to happen.

Railey (USA 4) introduced a mark trap on Paine (USA 6) and prevented him from rounding, letting about 50 boats sail past. By dragging Paine back through the fleet to 63rd place, Railey had forced them to both count their discards. This moved Railey back into a 10 point lead over Paine.

The incident drew protests from both sailors, after which Railey was disqualified, but it did not impact the standings as the race was already his discard.

Entering the final day, with only one race to be sailed, Railey was in 26th and Paine in 30th, and Paine needed to finish ahead of Railey in the overall standings to win the US trials.

After a split start, Paine stayed at the front of the fleet while Railey never recovered from a poor first beat, finishing 44th to Paine’s 7th… good enough for Paine to win the selection series and be nominated for the USA team going to the Rio Games.

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