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Life on the road to Tokyo 2020

Published on March 12th, 2020

With 2016 Olympic bronze medalist Caleb Paine in a battle for 2020 Olympic selection with USA teammate Luke Muller, Paine reports on getting caught in a travel typhoon:

The past 24 hours have been pretty testing. Enroute to Palma for the Princess Sofia Regatta, I fortunately purchased Wi-Fi on the plane from Boston to Madrid and heard about the Untied States government’s travel ban as it was being rolled out on March 11.

Immediately lost and feeling very helpless, I was able to reach out to friends and family still awake back home who started to scramble for potential options to get back home. Before touching down in Spain, I had a plan to get back to the land of the free and home of the brave.

US Sailing did a great job at responding to its athletes to get stateside asap … only minutes after the new information had been delivered. Once I touched down in Madrid, I immediately went to check in for my new flight.

This brings me to my next saga. Despite the fact I flew Iberia from Boston to Madrid and had no issues with my rudder, for some reason while rechecking it in on my way back to the USA, Iberia found find the proportions of my rudder unacceptable.

I spoke with every level of personal at the business class desk and every single one told me it “was not possible” despite the fact it has been on multiple planes in multiple countries many times before. I asked if there was somewhere I could go to ship it back and received no answer or help … just the word no.

I’m not one to usually comment on a business’ service because I am pretty tolerant and understanding of how things work, but with the multiple levels of disrespect Iberia showed, it was shameful at best.

After going from Terminal 4 to 1 at Madrid airport (it’s a serious hike – about a 15 minute bus ride), I was also told at the post office they could do nothing to help me. After running around the airport for 4 hours, I came to the conclusion the only way it was getting on the plane was snapping off the tiller. I highly suggest people don’t fly with Iberia in the future.

Of course, my giant surfboard went on without a second look!

Current travel plans are as follows:
Madrid to London 4:55 pm (3/12)
London to JFK 1:00 pm (3/13)
JFK to SFO 8:30 pm (3/13)

Editor’s note: The event Caleb was traveling to attend, the 2020 Trofeo Princesa Sofia Iberostar on March 30 to April 4, has been cancelled due the COVID-19 pandemic.


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