Paige Railey: Laser Trailblazer

Published on August 1st, 2016

Sixteen year old Kelsey Tostenson reached out to top female sailors she admired, asking them if they would contribute to a project she called Gale Force Girls. The mission of the project was ‘girl sailing’, to highlight the tremendous people who Kelsey saw as a positive influence for women in the sport. Here is the submission by Paige Railey who will represent the USA at the 2016 Olympic Games…

First off, one of my major goals with my sailing is to make a pathway for all girls and women in the sport. I want to show our gender that yes we are females, yes we are strong and yes we can compete just as or even more intensely compared to males. I am a female, I am strong in my mind and heart and I can do everything that you can do.

This path has never been easy…so let me give you an insight of what I’ve faced and currently battle…I’ve been told that I’m only a girl, I won’t be good enough, girls are weaker in every aspect, my fleet is easy etc. I never let these comments put me down. Instead I take negativity and use it as motivation.

Another good example was the life altering accident I had in 2014. I thought my career was over. Physically I hit rock bottom. Fractured spine, hurt tendons, killed nerves, terrible concussion etc. I could of let it break me but instead I chose to pick myself up and begin the road to recovery.

Coming back from an accident and facing a male dominated world is not easy. It takes a deep amount of inner strength to pull your shoulders back, put your head high and walk forward into the unknown. Of course there will be times that are hard, times where you cry, fail, and you’ll have many setbacks. When this happens it will knock you off your path and knock you down. So do you know what you do?? You get right back up, pull those shoulders back, put that head back up again, display your scars and wounds with pride and get walking forward again.

I started sailing at the age of 8 and I’ve had many ups and downs. The USA has watched me through my whole journey. So let’s talk about some successes! Here’s some things I’ve accomplished…a girl from a small town who failed her learn to sail test:

• 2 gold medals ISAF youth worlds
• 2 gold medals (1 world games, 1 laser worlds)
• 3 bronze medals laser worlds
• 1 bronze medal youth worlds
• 2 Pan American golds
• 1 Pan American bronze
• 2006 ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year
• 2006 US Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year
• 2012 Olympic Games
• 2016 Olympic Games

I’ve won almost every World Cup event and many national titles. And yes I used to destroy the boys when I sailed against them! And still do… : )

I will keep walking this path and making an example for all women out there because we can do this. It takes strong girls like you to keep this path alive. Remember times will be tough, but they will be overshadowed by the successes and fun that you will experience.

Don’t let anything hold you back and whatever you do, keep that head high, shoulders back, display your battle wounds with pride, remember who you are, what you’re doing and walk forward to your dreams and goals.

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