Rio 2016 (Sailing): Strong Early Winds Bring Solid Results For Team USA

WATCH: The Rio Report / N.2 – First Day of Racing


August 8, 2016

Rio de Janeiro, Brazil – The sailing competition at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games began in earnest on Monday, with strong winds and sunshine providing a worthy test for athletes in the Men’s Laser, Women’s Laser Radial, Men’s RS:X and Women’s RS:X classes. U.S. Olympic Team 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) were the only Americans to compete on the first day of racing.

In the Laser Radial, two-time Olympian Paige Railey recorded a strong average across her two races, finishing with a 15,2. “The first race was just ok, I lost boats on the final leg going to the finish,” said Railey. “On the next race I came back to get a second. The average of the day is good, and it’s what I wanted to do.”

Railey said that after three years of practicing out of the U.S. Sailing Team’s Rio training base, including participating in two full-scale Olympic Test Events, she felt confident in her ability to interpret the Rio 2016 race courses. “I think I read the the wind pretty well today, and if I can keep doing that I know it will pay off throughout the event,” said Railey. “I’ve been waiting for this moment, and I’m very happy for the Olympics to start. There are just eight more races before the final, and I have to just keep plugging away.”

2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro

Pictured: Paige Railey battling at the front of the Laser Radial fleet on Monday, August 8.

The other three American sailors in action on Monday were all experiencing Olympic competition for the first time. Women’s RS:X athlete Marion Lepert recorded a strong first day, with scores of 10,3,10. Lepert was in 2nd overall midway through her third race, but slipped to 10th at the finish. Nevertheless, scoring all top-ten finishes was an impressive debut for the current Stanford University mechanical engineering student.

“It was really fun, and I was happy to be able to start racing, which is what the Olympics is all about,” said Lepert. “We had awesome breeze, great conditions, and it was a perfect way to start off the regatta. We were racing on [the] ‘Pao’ [course] today, the medal race course, and so had lots of shifty winds because of the giant mountain in the middle of the racecourse.” Lepert has repeatedly proven to be among the world’s fastest in strong breeze, and today was no exception. “The biggest strategy today was staying in the wind,” recalled the 2015 Pan American Games bronze medalist. “There were some really sharp wind lines [visible]. I solidly stayed in the top ten, and I’m happy. Consistency is my goal.”

2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro

Pictured: RS:X athlete Marion Lepert on her way to three top-ten finishes on Monday, August 8.

Men’s Laser athlete Charlie Buckingham rose as high as 10th during his opening race, but eventually finished 21st before bouncing back with a 7th in the second race. “I’m definitely sailing well, and I’m fast,” said the two-time U.S. College Sailing of the Year, who is coached by two-time Olympic Champion and three-time medalist Mark Reynolds (San Diego, Calif.). “I just have to go back out and do it again tomorrow. I survived the day and am feeling good.”

Pedro Pascual, the U.S. Men’s RS:X representative, finished mid-fleet in his three races on Monday. “At first it felt a little bit overwhelming, just seeing all these people and all these cameras,” said the first-time Olympian and Florida Atlantic University student. “As the day went by, you just get used to it. It’s been a tough day for me, and it hasn’t gone my way. But it’s the first day of the Olympic Games, and tomorrow will be my day.” Pascual said his comfort level with the Games atmosphere would only increase as the event went on. “I was just trying to focus on my technique and tactics, and trying to leave everything [else] on the side, all the cameras, and everything that goes into Olympic racing. I was just trying to do my best.”

Sailing at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games will continue on Tuesday, August 9, which will be the first day of competition for the Men’s heavyweight Finn class dinghy and American Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.).

Note: Full results can be found at World Sailing’s Rio 2016 homepage as they become available.

2016 Olympic Games Rio de Janeiro

Pictured: Charlie Buckingham and the Men’s Laser fleet compete on the first day of racing at Rio 2016.

Viewing Guide

The Rio 2016 Olympic Games will feature unprecedented coverage of sailing for fans in the United States. Between NBC’s world-class television and online programming, US Sailing’s multi-channel coverage, and comprehensive daily email reports sent directly to fans, anyone hoping to follow the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team will have a better view than during any previous Olympics.

For more details on how to follow the action, check out the US Sailing Team’s viewing guide.

Quick Links:

U.S. Olympic Sailing Team:

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About The U.S. Olympic Sailing Team

The Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team is comprised of fifteen sailors hailing from eight U.S. States and territories including California, Washington, Maryland, Michigan, Rhode Island, Florida, Wisconsin, and the U.S. Virgin Islands. Each athlete qualified for the team based on the results of US Sailing’s Rio 2016 Athlete Selection Series. The Games of the XXXI Olympiad will take place from August 5-21, 2016, and the sailing events will be based at Marina da Gloria on Rio de Janeiro’s harbor front. The largest sporting event in the world, the Olympic Games will feature approximately 10,500 athletes from over 200 countries competing in 306 medal events. The sailing events will feature approximately 380 athletes competing in ten classes. Learn more about the U.S. Olympic Sailing Program at

About US Sailing

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. For more information, please visit

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