Finn Europeans: Close Battle on Penultimate Day, Rio 2016 Berth To Be Decided Saturday


Pictured:  US Sailing Team Sperry Finn athletes Caleb Paine (foreground) and Zach Railey racing on Day 5 (March 11) of the 2016 Finn European Championship.


March 11, 2016

Barcelona, Spain. –  The battle for the U.S. Olympic Team Selection Series in the Finn class (Men’s Heavyweight Dinghy) will come down to the final day of racing at the Finn European Championship (March 7-12) after another tense day of action in Barcelona. Two races were completed on Friday (Day Five), with top US Sailing Team Sperry (national team) contenders Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) and Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.) locked in a close competition for the right to compete at Rio 2016. Whichever sailor finishes ahead in the standings at this event will qualify.

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The first race of the day (Race 5) saw Railey and Paine follow a similar path around the racecourse, with neither athlete aiming to allow too much separation. The two Americans remained in close proximity for much of the race, with Railey eventually prevailing by three places (38th for Railey, 41st for Paine). However, with the completion of the fifth race in the series, all sailors automatically discarded their worst score, and Paine jumped ahead of Railey in the overall standings with a 10-point lead.


Pictured: Finn European Championship racing in Barcelona, Day 5 (March 11).

The second race (Race 6) proved to be a memorable contest. With much at stake, Railey successfully executed an aggressive and risky start close to the pin end of the starting line, while most competitors positioned themselves conservatively in the face of a black flag warning from the race committee. With a clear lane, and an early advantage provided by a pronounced pin-end line bias, the Beijing 2008 silver medalist charged hard towards the left-hand side of the racecourse on the first beat, and rounded the first mark in 5th place.

Paine opted for a more conservative start towards the middle of the line, and tried his luck with the right-hand side of the course. Eventually rounding in 22nd, Paine found himself in a significant hole that would remain nearly unchanged in size for the first half of the race.

On the second upwind leg (leg three of five), Paine turned in one of the best upwind performances of his career, passing ten boats within the space of a single mile of racecourse. “I played the shifts as best I could, and really focused hard on boatspeed. I was flying,” said Paine afterwords.


Pictured: Caleb Paine, US Sailing Team Sperry, Day 5 (March 11).

Now within ten boat lengths of Railey, and with only two other competitors between them, the Americans rounded the final upwind mark and turned their focus towards a crucial final downwind leg. However, Railey was flagged by the umpires shortly after rounding, forcing him to complete two costly penalty circles. This allowed Paine, who earlier in the race was several hundred yards and seventeen boats astern of Railey, to come up even with the experienced Floridian. This set up a pitched downwind battle, with both sailors surfing down the three-foot swells.

At the final leeward gate, Railey and Paine engaged in match race-style maneuvering, trying to gain an upper hand for several minutes as dozens of boats passed by. Paine eventually escaped and finished 64th, with Railey in 65th. Two protests were heard by the international jury stemming from the incident. The first protest resulted in a Race 6 disqualification for Railey, while the second was disallowed.

Despite the results of the protests, the relative positions of both athletes remained unchanged. Railey will go into tomorrow with a ten point lead over Paine. Saturday will feature one final full-fleet race, plus a medal race for the top ten competitors. Light winds are once again forecast for Barcelona.

U.S. Standings, Finn Europeans:

  • 26th overall, Zach Railey (Clearwater, Fla.). 121 net points. Drop race is a DSQ.
  • 30th overall, Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.). 131 net points, Drop race is a 63.

More information can be found on the event website.


Pictured: Zach Railey, US Sailing Team Sperry, Day 5 (March 11). 

Previous Event Reports:


Note: All athletes named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Team are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC). For more information on the 2016 Laser Radial European Championship, visit the event website.

See Also: Full U.S. Olympic Team Selection Tracker (All Classes)

About the US Sailing Team Sperry

The US Sailing Team Sperry is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. The top boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class are selected annually to be members of the US Sailing Team Sperry. US Sailing helps these elite athletes with financial, logistical, coaching, technical, fitness, marketing and communications support. The title sponsor of the team is Sperry; other sponsors include Gold-Level partner Sunbrella and Silver-Level partners Harken, Team McLube and Groupe Beneteau. Yale Cordage is a team supplier. The US Sailing Center Miami is an Olympic training site. Oakcliff Sailing and Clearwater Community Sailing Center are US Sailing Team Sperry Training Centers. Chubb Personal Insurance and the Gowrie Group sponsors US Sailing’s National Team Tour, a nationwide presentation program for US Sailing Team Sperry athletes. For more information, please visit

The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry. For more information, please visit

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Press Contact: Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, US Sailing., +1 (978) 697-2384.

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