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US Sailing's 2016 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year

by US Sailing 12 Jan 2017 22:29 PST 12 January 2017

Olympic Bronze Medalist Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) and IKA Formula Kite World Champion Daniela Moroz (Lafayette, Calif.) today were selected as US Sailing's 2016 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year.

This selection follows the announcement in December of the eight men and six women shortlisted for the award and recognized as sailing's top performers of the year by US Sailing. A slate of nominees, determined by the membership of US Sailing, was presented to a panel of accomplished sailing journalists, who together discussed the merits of each nominee and individually voted to determine the ultimate winners.

Paine and Moroz will be honoured on Thursday, March 2, 2016, during a luncheon at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan, when they will be presented with specially-engraved Rolex timepieces.

Caleb Paine – US Sailing's 2016 Rolex Yachtsman of the Year

Under immense pressure to return Team USA to the Olympic podium in sailing, Caleb Paine prevailed in an epic medal race to earn a bronze medal in the Finn class, the Men's Heavyweight Dinghy at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In his first career Olympic Games, Paine led the medal race at every mark. He passed Croatia's Ivan Kljakovic Gaspic in the overall standings to earn a place on the podium.

"It was a tough battle for me, and I feel fortunate to come up with a medal in the end," said Paine. "I didn't get off to the best start, but I kept my eyes open and saw an opportunity to make a gain on the right side, and it was go all the way or nothing at all, so I had to fully commit and fortunately it paid off."

On the day before the medal race, Paine had a chance to reflect on his Olympic journey. "On the reserve day, my parents and I went up Sugarloaf and I spent some quality time with my family. I went through all the scenarios of how I got there, the friends I made and the experiences I had. I knew everything would be okay regardless of the outcome. This gave me the ability to just go out and perform and do what I needed to do."

In early March, the Rio 2016 Selection Series in the Finn class came to a memorable conclusion at the Finn European Championship in Barcelona. Paine came from behind to win his first career U.S. Olympic Sailing Team berth over Beijing 2008 Silver Medalist Zach Railey who came out of retirement in late 2015.

"Without Zach, I don't think I would have medaled at the Games because I gained so much from the pressure and intensity of the Olympic Trials. In some ways the Olympic Trials were far more difficult than what I had to do at the Olympics."

A Sailing World Cup Series Champion, Paine has been the top-ranked American Finn sailor since 2012. He began his Finn dinghy career in the period preceding the London 2012 Olympic Games as Railey's training partner, and the two athletes challenged each other for much of the past six years.

Paine became the first American to medal in sailing since Railey and Anna Tunnicliffe (Gold), both accomplished the feat at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Paine, 25, grew up in Southern California, and inherited his father's love of sailing at an early age. Together with his younger brother Olin, Paine sailed anything he could get his hands on in San Diego as a kid, and devoted himself to mastering the one-person Sabot. Deciding earlier than most to pursue an Olympic dream, Paine passed on a traditional campus-based college experience in favor of a life on the high-performance sailing path.

"It was definitely nerve-racking at the time and people questioned the decision I made, but I truly believed in my goal and I believed I could achieve it. To be honest, the opportunities I had because of that decision really paid off for me."

Daniela Moroz – US Sailing's 2016 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year

Foiling prodigy Daniela Moroz has reached the pinnacle of her sport at the age of 15. On the world's largest stage, the high school sophomore rose to the occasion on the final day of racing at the IKA Formula Kite World Championship last September in Weifang-Binhai, China.

Moroz was on equal points with reigning world champion, Russian Elena Kalinina, 18, on the last day of racing. Despite the light air, which had typically favored Kalinina, Moroz won all four races on the final day to secure the world championship. She won eight of 12 races overall.

"It didn't feel real at first," said Moroz. "I couldn't believe it actually happened. It's always been something I dreamed of doing ever since I started kiting. I've been training and racing with Erika Heineken since the beginning and she is a role model and inspiration to me. To be able to do what she did means a lot."

Moroz posted top results throughout 2016 on the Hydrofoil Pro Tour. She placed first in the women's fleet at the Final Round in Rockingham, Western Australia and first place at Round Three in Pointe d'Esny, Mauritius. Moroz's consistent results propelled her to the top of the Hydrofoil Pro Tour women's final standings.

"The Hydrofoil Pro Tour was awesome," added Moroz. "It is one of the most amazing experiences of my life. Traveling around the world and being able to compete is a dream. The racing is a big part of it, but it's not everything. I've made some great friends along the way."

Moroz learned how to kiteboard at the age of 11 while taking lessons on Sherman Island. In the summer of 2013 she had her first racing experience out of Crissy Field at one of the Thursday Night Races. Soon after, she learned how to foil and raced the entire 2014 season on a Sword.

"Both of my parents were windsurfers, so they introduced me at an early age. "I chose kiting because this sport had really taken off. Soon after I began racing, the progression from raceboards to hydrofoil had started and I followed that progression."

Moroz has her sights set on another world championship and she would like to race on the Hydrofoil Pro Tour again in 2017. She also has high hopes that kiteboarding is selected as a sailing event for the 2020 Games in Tokyo. Moroz will also be preparing to compete at the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games.

Established in 1961 by US Sailing and sponsored by Rolex Watch, U.S.A. since 1980, the annual presentation of US Sailing's Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards are considered the sport's ultimate recognition of an individual's outstanding on-the-water achievements for the calendar year.

Over its history the coveted award has been presented to 44 men and 35 women, including these distinguished sailors who have claimed the honour multiple times: Ed Adams, Betsy Alison, Sally Barkow, Dave Curtis, Dennis Conner, JJ Fetter, Allison Jolly, John Kostecki, Buddy Melges, Lowell North, Jan O'Malley, Jane Pegel, Ken Read, Cory Sertl, Lynne Shore, Jody Starck, Anna Tunnicliffe and Ted Turner.

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