by Dana Paxton
With a victory in the final race at the 2013 Laser Radial World Championship, US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athlete Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) captured a bronze medal. Racing took place Oct. 1-7, in Rizhao, China, where a total 77 athletes competed in the series, which consisted of a six-race qualifying series and a six-race final series.
On the final day, Railey was standing in fourth place overall and had two races to sail and move up to the podium. She finished 15th in the first of the day, which only made the final race win sweeter. 'Literally I was focused on one point at a time,' Railey said. 'The first race went bad. It was one of those situations where you push forward from it. After the first race, I went up to Mark [Littlejohn, her coach] and was slightly bummed. He said ‘Go for it’, and that’s what I did. I took everything we had talked about and put it together. This is the stuff we’re training for – for Rio – it will be challenging at times in the Olympic Games regatta, and it’s good to practice for those times.'
She went on to explain that it wasn’t her goal to focus on the podium. 'Mark and I weren’t excited about me getting bronze or fourth,' she explained. 'We didn’t’ focus on the end results; it was all about our process of improving. You could see by my results all week that I was going well. The best part about it was Mark and I learned a lot about what I can improve on.'
The racing conditions were moderate and puffy the entire week. 'Conditions were tricky, but they are my favorite conditions to sail in,' she explained. 'You could be next to a girl and she could be in completely different wind. That’s the stuff I grew up with. A lot of Americans grew up in it and we excel in it. On a positive note, it’s something we can expect in Rio.'
While she takes a bronze medal from this Laser Radial World championship, it’s the overall takeaway that stands out. 'You can only control your own actions, not the actions of others,' she said. 'If there is someone having a great race, you have to focus on your own boat, because you never know, it could come down to the last race and get you a bronze.'
The bronze caps off a strong year in the Laser Radial for Railey, who won silver at Kiel Week, in June, and gold at ISAF Sailing World Cup Miami, in January.
US Sailing Development Team member Claire Dennis (Saratoga, Fla.) finished 11th in the silver fleet (50th overall), while Christine Persson (Weston, Fla.) finished 37th in silver (76th overall).
US Sailing website