New York, N.Y. (March 3, 2007) - Jud Smith (Marblehead, Mass.) and Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) took center stage yesterday during a special luncheon at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan. The sailors are US SAILING's Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year, this country's most prestigious honor in the sport. They were recognized for their outstanding on-the-water performances during the 2006 calendar year and presented with engraved Rolex timepieces.
Smith was recognized for his victories at several Etchells regattas, including the World Championship, as well as for his wins in several other classes. In addition to the Etchells Worlds, Smith won the class' North American Championship, Lands' End Annapolis NOOD Regatta, Florida State Championship and Acura Miami Race Week. Proving his versatility on other boats, Smith also won the Rhodes 19 National and East Coast Championships. He also crewed on the class winners at the Rolex Big Boat Series, the Lands' End Chicago NOOD Regatta and the Verve Cup.
"Winning this award feels different than I expected," said Smith. "I've always thought that the sailors who have won the award in the past had reached the pinnacle in their careers. I don't feel I've reached my ultimate goal yet; I still have time before I 'arrive.'"
Railey, the youngest woman ever to receive the Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year award, was recognized for her accomplishments on foreign waters. Among the US Sailing Team member's victories were the Semaine Olympique Française in Hyères, France; the ISAF World Sailing Games in Neusiedl, Austria; and the Good Luck Beijing-2006 Qingdao International Regatta, the first test event in China at the venue of the 2008 Olympic Regatta. At home, Railey also triumphed at the Laser Radial North American and Midwinter East Championships.
"It feels really fantastic to win this," said Paige Railey, who won the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award last fall and hopes to represent the USA at the 2008 Olympic Games. "It's so nice to come home and receive this award from the U.S. sailing community, and I look forward to continuing on this path."
A video Podcast from the awards luncheon, produced by the luncheon emcee Gary Jobson, will be available on the US SAILING website at www.ussailing.org after 9 p.m. Eastern time today.