In the cockpit of the Finn belonging to Caleb Paine (USA) there is a decal that reads “No Paine, no gain”. This very much sums up his attitude towards making sure he is the absolutely best prepared he can possibly be come the start of the Olympic Games in August.
“I think that no matter what, in the toughest times when you are out there training, it is being able to keep pushing no matter what. You are not always going to win every drill, or be the fastest downwind, but you keep working. I think I've always been hard working but you are going to do everything you can to win that one spot and be the better sailor or athlete in the end.”
Caleb Paine started off sailing the Finn when he was 19. “I was introduced to it by a guy named Scott Mason from Long Beach, California. I sailed the boat once, totally loved it and realised it would give me the ability to go to the Olympics and possibly win a medal. As soon as I graduated high school I had the opportunity to sail with Zach Railey (USA) and train with him and I was his training partner leading up to the 2012 Games.”
After Railey stopped sailing following the London 2012 Games, Paine assumed his place as the top Finn sailor in the US. He won World Cup regattas in Miami and Medemblik and briefly rose to World No. 1. Since then he has been a regular at the front end of the fleet, including seventh place at the 2014 ISAF Sailing World Championship where he qualified the USA for its Finn place in Rio.
To win his place on the US Sailing Team he first had to defeat his former training partner, who had made a very late comeback to try for this third Olympics. He says Railey returning to the campaign trail, “helped me drive and work harder. I actually 100 per cent believed every day, even if he was or wasn't, I just told myself that he was going to come back to sail.”
Paine had not even started Finn sailing when Railey had won his medal, however he eventually overcame Railey in the final and decisive trials regatta at the Finn European Championship in Barcelona in March. Railey’s tactics made headlines on sailing columns worldwide, but Paine, stayed calm, won the trials and his ticket to Rio.
From the start Paine has committed himself fully to training in Rio and learning its tricks. Over the past three years he estimates he has spent more than three months training there. It’s a big commitment. “Yes, but at the same time I get to see Brazil and sail in Brazil even if I hadn’t have qualified it still would have been have been something worthwhile.”
“US Sailing did a great job in going down in the year after the London Games and scoped the whole area out and went to Rio and saw some of the difficulties in living on the Rio side, but went over to Niteroi and realised it's the same distance to all the sailing venues and closer to some of the outside ones and it was just a great place to sail. It's safe, family orientated, you walk around at night no problems, pretty low key and you don't have a lot of the distractions that you have over on the Rio side. It's been a great facility and it's worked very well.”
“I think a lot of people have been training in Rio for a long time, and it's been great sailing and I look forward to sailing in the harbour. It's quite challenging. And from that aspect, it's one of the hardest and most difficult places to sail but that also makes it fun.”
Since making the US Sailing Team he says he has been focusing on improving his starting technique, downwind technique and getting used to some of the equipment that he will be using. “Just spending lots of time in the boat and getting as comfortable with the equipment as possible. Just so there are no surprises or question marks, so I can go in to the Olympics totally confident and sure of everything that I have.”
“I would say I am fairly positive, but a realist at the same time. I can fully understand where I stand but that also gives me the ability to see the path I need to take to do the best I can or succeed.”
Like most sailors he is sidelining all the other issues that have surrounded preparations for the Games. “If you look all over the world there are pollution problems and I've been there a long time and been OK, never been sick and had zero problems whatsoever. But just like when you travel anywhere abroad you are going to take measures to make sure you are safe. I have done everything I need to do to make sure I am safe in Brazil.”
“We all have to deal with it, all the sailors have to sail in the same circumstances, and some people will let it take advantage of them and it may affect the way they perform but it's the same for everyone so you might as well perform the best you can in the circumstances you are presented with.”
“I think it’s going to be very, very tough. I think it's going to be close racing, due to the racecourses and the challenging aspects of those courses. I think it's going to be very exciting and I think there is going to be some very close points by the end of the regatta and I am looking forward to seeing how it turns out.”