Sailing Preview

As the nation with the most Olympic medals in sailing, expectations are always high for the United States heading into an Olympic Games.

Despite competing against one another for a spot on the Olympic team, several U.S. sailing athletes are working as a team, with the same coach to prepare for the trials and Games. This process was designed to raise the overall skill level of American Olympic-class sailors and has already proven successful. The U.S. Laser Radial, Nacra 17, Finn and 49er fleets are all sticking to the unified, team-based model. Since evolving the approach to the team-based model, each of the classes has seen an increase in rapid improvement and created a more sustainable stream of talent that will endure beyond the Tokyo Games.

Thanks to the increased collaboration, the U.S. Sailing Team heads into the Games with confidence, despite the postponement.

Updated on July 21, 2020. For more information, contact the sport press officer here.

Pair to Watch: One of U.S. Sailing’s strongest hope for an Olympic medal is 49erFX sailors Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea. At the 2020 world championships, the pair sailed an incredible medal race to overtake the trials leaders, secure selection to the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team, and win the bronze medal.

Continued Excellence: Paige Railey, who has more world championship medals than any other women’s Laser Radial athlete in history, qualified for her third Olympic Games (2012, 2016) and is in search for her first Olympic medal. Between a cycling accident in 2014 and a long battle with an auto-immune disorder, Railey has overcome multiple obstacles to continue competing at a high level. Despite her setbacks, she still has her sights set on gold in Tokyo .

Teamwork Makes the Dream Work: For the first time, several of the U.S. Olympic-class athletes are training as a team through the trials. In this quadrennial, U.S. Sailing took a more unified approach to training for the Games. Four of the 10 Olympic classes – the Nacra 17, Women’s Laser Radial, Men’s Finn and Men’s 49er classes – saw the athletes train as a team while they were competing against one another for selection and continue to do so as the selected athletes prepare for the Games.

Stephanie Roble (Eat Troy, Wisconsin) & Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Illinois)

Since teaming up for their first Olympic campaign together, Roble and Shea have shown an incredible amount of progression in the last four years. The pair recently qualified the country by earning silver at the Pan American Games Lima 2019. They earned their spot on the 2020 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in a nail-biting medal race at the 2020 world championships, executing a nearly perfect race, and finishing first to secure a bronze and win the trials.

Paige Railey (Clearwater, Florida)

Railey is a seasoned Olympian (2012, 2016), having more world championship medals than any other women’s Laser Radial athlete in history and has won just about everything except an Olympic medal. Between a cycling accident in 2014 and a long battle with an auto-immune disorder, Railey has overcome a lot to continue competing at the front of the fleet. Despite her setbacks, she still has her sights set on an Olympic medal, this time in Tokyo.

Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, California)

Buckingham has found a considerable amount of success in the Laser fleet, which is known as one of the toughest in Olympic sailing. After finishing 11th at Rio 2016, Buckingham believes he has more to give. He consistently finishes in the top of the fleet at major international regattas. Recently, he took 11th overall, placing the U.S. as the sixth-highest country, at the 2019 Laser world championship.

Luke Muller (Fort Pierce, Florida)

Thanks to his performances at the 2019 World Championships and 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami, Muller bested teammate and Rio 2016 bronze medalist, Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), for selection in the Finn class. Muller is a three-time world cup medalist, two-time national champion, and is currently ranked among the world’s top 20 Finn sailors. Some of his career highlights in the Finn include third place at both the 2019 and 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami, ninth at the 2017 Kiel Week Regatta, and fourth at the 2017 Sailing World Cup Miami.

The U.S. may enter a maximum of one boat in each of the 10 sailing events, for a total of 15 athletes – eight men and seven women. At numerous events, including the 2018 and 2019 world championships and the Pan-American Games, U.S. athletes had the opportunity to qualify the country for Tokyo 2020. Once the country is qualified, U.S. Sailing’s selection procedures determine the individual athlete(s) that will compete in that class at Tokyo 2020.

As of 150 days out from the Games, the U.S. has qualified for representation in the Men’s Laser, Women’s Laser Radial, Men’s 470, Women’s 470, Men’s Finn, Men’s RS:X, Women’s RS:X, Mixed Nacra 17 and Women’s 49erFX. Should another qualified country choose not to send a team in the Men’s 49er, the U.S. will secure a berth in that class as well. For more on qualification, click here.

Athletes seeking to qualify for the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team have the opportunity to do so at three major international events. The U.S. athletes with the lowest overall combined score from the 2019 world championships, 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami*, and the 2020 world championships will earn selection.** For more on selection, click here.

Currently, the U.S. has selected 10 of the 15 athletes that will have the opportunity to represent Team USA in Tokyo.
• Riley Gibbs (Long Beach, Calif.) and Anna Weis (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) - Mixed Nacra 17
• Stephanie Roble (East Troy, Wis.) and Maggie Shea (Wilmette, Ill.) - Women’s 49erFX
• Nevin Snow (San Diego, Calif.) and Dane Wilson (Ojai, Calif.) - Men’s 49er***
• Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) - Women’s Laser Radial
• Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.) - Men’s Laser
• Pedro Pascual (Miami, Fla.) - Men’s RS:X
• Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) - Women’s RS:X

*The 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami is only a selection event for the Finn, RS:X, Men’s 470, and Women’s 470 classes.

**Due to the COVID-19 Pandemic, the 2020 world championships were not used as selection events in the Finn, Men’s 470, and Women’s 470 classes. Selection for the Finn and Men’s 470 classes was determined by the results of the 2019 world championships and 2020 Hempel World Cup Series Miami. The next opportunity for selection in the Women’s 470 class is the 2021 World Championships.

***Pending country qualification

· March 13, 2021: Scheduled final day of the 2021 470 World Championships, which will mark the conclusion of athlete selection