Team USA Ready in Rio

Published on August 7th, 2016

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil (August 7, 2016) – Monday, August 8 will see the opening races of the Rio 2016 Olympic Sailing competition, with 380 athletes from 66 nations ready to put four years of intense preparation to the test. Racing is scheduled to take place from August 8-18, and will be broadcast live online each day by NBC. Monday’s action will include four classes: Men’s Laser, Women’s Laser Radial, Men’s RS:X and Women’s RS:X.

American sailors Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif., Laser), Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla., Laser Radial) Pedro Pascual (West Palm Beach, Fla., Men’s RS:X) and Marion Lepert (Belmont, Calif., Women’s RS:X) will be the first Team USA sailors to compete at the Games of the XXXI Olympiad.

“The U.S. Olympic Sailing Team is ready to race,” said Josh Adams (Litchfield, Conn.), Managing Director of U.S. Olympic Sailing. “This is an amazing group of American athletes, all fifteen of them. We have athletes who are at the beginning of their Olympic sailing careers, with three twenty-year-olds on the team, and then we have a group of veterans who are back with unfinished business.”

The U.S. Sailing Team established a training base in Rio de Janeiro in early 2013, and American sailors have been training on both the enclosed Guanabara Bay and open-ocean racing areas almost continuously during the Rio 2016 quadrennium. “The team has really embraced Rio, and they feel at home here,” said Adams. “When this team goes out and begins racing at the Olympic Games tomorrow, the one thing you can count on is that U.S. sailors will feel comfortable on the racecourse.”

In terms of performance goals, Adams expressed confidence in his team. “We are of course aiming for peak performances from all of our athletes, and in three classes we have shown consistent results at the top of the international fleet. In the Men’s 470, Women’s 470 and Laser Radial we look especially strong, and ready to take care of business here in Rio.”

Laser Radial athlete Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) is no stranger to high expectations, and arrives for her second Olympic Games with an impressive list of results over the past four years. The five-time Laser Radial World Championship medalist and 2006 World Sailor of the Year missed capturing a second career world title by a single point in April of 2016, and looks to be in peak form entering Rio 2016.

“In my mind, pressure is what you make of it,” said Railey. “Going into this event, I’ve accepted that this is the Olympic Games, and it only comes around once every four years. It’s me who is going to allow it to affect me or to motivate me. Going into these Games after getting second at the Worlds this year, it’s reality, so I face it and I take it on.”

After earning a place on the podium at sixteen elite-level sailing events in the 470 class since teaming up in 2013, Men’s 470 athletes Stu McNay (Providence, R.I.) and Dave Hughes (Miami, Fla.) will enter Rio 2016 with a confidence and focus that comes from deep experience. Hughes was part of the London 2012 U.S. Sailing coaching staff, but made a successful transition back into the 470 class, in which he previously competed from 2003-2007.

McNay will race at his third consecutive Olympics, but will arrive at the Games for the first time as both a husband and father. Despite being the most experienced member of the team, McNay says the Olympic experience doesn’t diminish over time. “It’s a wonderful feeling of elation, enthusiasm, and it’s spiritually uplifting,” said McNay. “[To be an Olympian] is one of the top experiences of a lifetime, and I’m honored to do it representing Team USA.”

The Women’s 470 team of Annie Haeger (East Troy, Wisc.) and Briana Provancha (San Diego, Calif.) won the Olympic Test Event in August of 2015, proving that they can compete with the best teams in the world. Despite this accomplishment, Provancha said their team will not be dwelling on past successes heading into the Rio 2016 regatta.

Instead, Haeger and Provancha will be focusing on the considerable experience they’ve gained at the venue. “We’ve spent more time in Rio than any other sailing team in the world, and it’s going to show next week,” said the Youth World Champion. “It’s a complicated sailing venue and that makes it fun. We’re here to accept the challenge.”

The sailing competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games is scheduled to take place from August 8-18, 2016.

How to follow the Olympics… click here.

Source: Will Ricketson, Press Officer (US Sailing)

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