Make us your home page

Get the quickest, smartest news, analysis and photos from the Bucs game emailed to you shortly after the final whistle.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Silver shines bright for Clearwater's Railey

CLEARWATER — Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey knew weight would be an issue in the light air off Qingdao, China.

"The lighter the boat, the faster it goes, especially when there is not much wind," the U.S. Finn class sailor said Tuesday, just 12 hours after his return home from the Games. "So I really made a point of trying to get as lean as possible."

This time last year, the 24-year-old Clearwater resident weighed 220 pounds. But through a grueling fitness and nutrition regimen, Railey trimmed his 6-foot-4 frame to 200 before the Olympics.

"In the last couple of weeks, I got down to 190," he said, struggling with jet lag. "I think it made all the difference in the world."

Railey, who started his career as an Optimist sailor and moved up to Lasers before settling on the Finn, traveled to Qingdao earlier this summer to practice on the Olympic course.

"What we learned on that trip really helped," he said. "My first race ended up being the most important."

In the series opener, Railey found himself rounding the final weather mark in the middle of the 26-boat fleet.

"I knew from the practice runs that one side of the course was a little faster because of the current and wind conditions," he said. "It was a risky move, but I jibed and cut across the course before anybody else could."

Railey instantly went from 13th place to second.

He followed with a fifth-place finish and two more seconds. Heading into the fifth event of what he thought would be a 10-race series, Railey had a firm grasp on first place.

But Britain's Ben Ainslie, who won the Finn class gold medal in the past two Olympics, was not about to give up his title easily.

"He is the best in the world," Railey said. "Ben is not the kind of guy that makes many mistakes."

In the next three races, Railey finished seventh twice and then eighth, dropping him into second place, six points behind Ainslie and five points ahead of France's Guillaume Florent.

On the final day of the opening series, bad weather limited the field to one race instead of three, setting the stage for the final medal contest and limiting the field to just 10 boats.

Railey knew he couldn't catch Ainslie in points, so he focused on holding off the Frenchman. "When I realized I wasn't going to beat Ben, I decided to do what I had to do to protect the silver (medal)," Railey said.

He successfully blocked Florent's wind in the next race, and sat 12 points behind Ainslie heading into the final medal race. Ainslie needed to only finish ahead of Railey to claim the gold, setting up a match race in the final.

"We didn't even think about the rest of the fleet," Railey said.

When it was over, Ainslie took the gold, Railey the silver and Florent the bronze.

"My parents were waiting on the seawall with a big American flag," he said. "I did what I had set out to do."

Railey hopes to make the U.S. team again for the 2012 Games in England. In the meantime, he wants to win the Finn World and European championships.

"I'd like to go to London," he said. "But I want to go with my sister."

Paige Railey, who at 21 is one of the top Laser sailors in the world, narrowly missed a chance to go to Beijing.

"That would be something else … a brother and sister sailing in the Olympics," he said. "That's the plan. I guess we will just have to wait and see."

Silver shines bright for Clearwater's Railey 08/26/08 [Last modified: Thursday, August 28, 2008 2:41pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. L.A. delay could re-open Super Bowl chance for Tampa in 2021


    Construction delays on the NFL's new stadium in Los Angeles mean the Rams and Chargers won't be playing there until 2020, a year later than expected, and the ripple effect could give Tampa another chance at landing a Super Bowl in February 2021.

    Tampa and Raymond James Stadium last hosted a Super Bowl in 2009, when the Pittsburgh Steelers edged the Arizona Cardinals.
  2. Bucs' Gerald McCoy, Jameis Winston honored in NFL top 100


    Helping fans pass time through the offseason each summer, NFL Network has been unveiling its top 100 players for 2017 as chosen by the players, and the Bucs' Gerald McCoy and Jameis Winston are the first Tampa Bay players revealed, coming in at No. 52 and 57, respectively.

    Bucs quarterback Jameis WInston and defensive tackle Gerald McCoy, shown in the 2016 season finale against the Panthers, have both been named to the NFL Network's top 100 players for 2017.
  3. The play occurred in the third inning when Angels rookie Nolan Fontana, making his major league debut, tried to slide past the tag of Rays second baseman Michael Martinez.
  4. Former Gator Caleb Brantley paying a steep price for nothing


    It turns out Caleb Brantley isn't quite the dirtbag that millions of people presumed. It's too bad the damage to his reputation and bank account is already done.

    Caleb Brantley, who dropped to the sixth round of the draft, works out during Browns rookie minicamp. [Associated Press]
  5. Rays let early lead get away again in loss to Angels (w/video)

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — As pleased as the Rays were to win consecutive series against the contending Red Sox, Indians and Yankees and to get briefly back over .500, there was a lot of talk in the clubhouse before Monday's game against the Angels that it was time to do better.

    Daniel Robertson walks off the field after being left stranded at first base to end the game.