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Compliments US Sailing Paige Railey Photo: Amory Ross

THE PRACTITIONER

The international spotlight first illuminated Paige Railey (24) in 2006 when she won the prestigious ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year and US SAILING's Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year awards at the tender age of 19. The prodigy Laser Radial sailor seemed unstoppable until late 2007 when she lost the U.S. Olympic Trials in a storied, down-to-the-wire battle with Anna Tunnicliffe, who sailed on to gold in the 2008 Olympics. This upset triggered Railey to fundamentally reevaluate her life, and her sailing. Now, four years later, Railey is ready for the 2012 Olympics, thanks—in equal measure—to her unflinching work ethic and her meditation practices.

Paige Railey

By David Schmidt/Alembic Media, LLC
10/1/2011

Editors Note: Congratulations to Paige on her 3rd place finish and a bronze medal at the ISAF Worlds. Paige will represent the US in the Laser Radial class at the 2012 Olympic Games.

Paige is also on the shortlist to receive US Sailing's Rolex Yachtsman & Yachtswoman of the Year Award.

I caught up with Railey at her home in Clearwater, Florida to learn about her mental conditioning, and to hear what it's like to share her Olympic dreams with her big brother, 2008 Finn silver medalist Zach Railey. 

You've been sailing so well recently—Have you been doing anything differently from 2007?
I took up Buddhism three years ago, so I've been doing a lot of meditation. I've learned to control my feelings and to understand who I am as a person. Meditation has taught me how to calm my mind and to keep myself focused, rather than getting carried away by thoughts and emotions. Buddhism has made me a better, happier person. 

How does the Buddhist notion of mindfulness apply to your sailing?
I've learned to live in the present. For example, in a medal race, I know that I can't change what's already happened. Instead, I focus solely on the moment and what I have to do now. I view every race as hundreds of opportunities to improve. That's why I like nerves and pressure—when you understand mindfulness, you don't focus on the end, but instead on what's happening now. 

What have you learned about managing career highs and lows since 2006?
I was really young when it all happened, and I was really inexperienced with handling the press, stress and pressure. Since then, I've learned how to lose. It's not fun to lose, of course, but I don't let the emotion consume me. Instead, I use it as a motivation. 

I've matured a lot in my sailing. It's been a combination of my meditation, the sailing that I have done with my coach, Luther Carpenter, and my physical training. 

Can you tell me about your work and involvement with Olivia Lives? 
I had a really good friend named Olivia Ceraolo who died of cancer in 2004. Seeing that and holding her mom in my arms when she was crying made a huge impact. So my twin sister [Brooke], Zach and I, and some other people, started a foundation called Olivia Lives (olivialives.com). It helps the community, for example the homeless, troubled teens, and other cancer patients. One of the biggest things that I'm doing is donating ten percent of my bonuses to the National Sarcoma Foundation of America to help aid in cancer research. 

What's more nerve-wracking—sailing your Olympic medal race, or watching Zach race his? 
Watching my brother race! There's no controlling my emotions at all—the Buddhism goes out the window, big-time! 

What advice would you give Zach, going into the 2012 Olympics?
I'd tell him not to worry about the pressures that others are going to put on him, because he already won a silver medal. Take one race at a time—every situation for what it is, and be in the here and now. 

Would it be too weird if Brooke was also on the USSTAG?
If she sailed Radials it would be! I wouldn't want to be competing against my twin sister! It's so hard to describe what a twin is—she is literally my other half; I can't function without her. Brooke keeps me tied to the real world. We really don't speak much about sailing. She lives a different life compared to me—going to college, having a high-school experience and working—all the stuff I missed because I was gone. I get to live these things through her.

What are your favorite Harken and McLube products? Any items you'd never roll tack without?
HARKEN: I use Harken blocks for everything. The boat comes with a bunch of supplied blocks, but I change everything out because Harken's ball-bearing blocks take a lot of load off the lines when you're pulling. Also, Harken's full-finger gloves are the only gloves that I'll sail with.

McLUBE: I use HullKote on my boom to first get rid of any debris or salt, and then I spray it with SailKote—it makes the clew tie-down strap slide super easily. I think it's the best thing that you can do for your boom. And I always use HullKote to polish my boat.

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