Pain learned how to sail at Southwestern Yacht Club in Point Loma. He won the USA’s first Olympic medal in sailing since 2008 in Rio de Janeiro last summer, in the men’s solo Finn category.
This selection follows the announcement in December of the eight men and six women shortlisted for the award and recognized as sailing’s top performers of the year by U.S. Sailing. A slate of nominees, determined by the membership of U.S. Sailing, was presented to a panel of accomplished sailing journalists, who together discussed the merits of each nominee and individually voted to determine the ultimate winners.
Paine and Moroz will be honored on Thursday, March 2, during a luncheon at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan, when they will be presented with specially-engraved Rolex timepieces.
Under immense pressure to return Team USA to the Olympic podium in sailing, Paine prevailed in an epic medal race to earn a bronze medal in the Finn class, the Men's Heavyweight Dinghy at the Rio 2016 Olympic Games. In his first career Olympic Games, Paine led the medal race at every mark.
“It was a tough battle for me, and I feel fortunate to come up with a medal in the end,” said Paine. “I didn’t get off to the best start, but I kept my eyes open and saw an opportunity to make a gain on the right side, and it was go all the way or nothing at all, so I had to fully commit and fortunately it paid off.”
On the day before the medal race, Paine had a chance to reflect on his Olympic journey. “On the reserve day, my parents and I went up Sugarloaf and I spent some quality time with my family. I went through all the scenarios of how I got there, the friends I made and the experiences I had. I knew everything would be okay regardless of the outcome. This gave me the ability to just go out and perform and do what I needed to do.”
In early March, the Rio 2016 Selection Series in the Finn class came to a memorable conclusion at the Finn European Championship in Barcelona. Paine came from behind to win his first career U.S. Olympic Sailing Team berth over Beijing 2008 silver medalist Zach Railey who came out of retirement in late 2015.
“Without Zach, I don’t think I would have medaled at the Games because I gained so much from the pressure and intensity of the Olympic Trials. In some ways the Olympic Trials were far more difficult than what I had to do at the Olympics.”
Paine, 25, grew up in San Diego, and inherited his father's love of sailing at an early age. Together with his younger brother, Olin, Paine sailed anything he could get his hands on in San Diego as a kid, and devoted himself to mastering the one-person Sabot.
Deciding earlier than most to pursue an Olympic dream, Paine passed on a traditional campus-based college experience in favor of a life on the high-performance sailing path.
A Sailing World Cup Series Champion, Paine has been the top-ranked American Finn sailor since 2012. He began his Finn dinghy career in the period preceding the London 2012 Olympic Games as Railey's training partner, and the two athletes challenged each other for much of the past six years.
Paine became the first American to medal in sailing since Railey and Anna Tunnicliffe (gold), both accomplished the feat at the 2008 Beijing Games.
“It was definitely nerve-racking at the time and people questioned the decision I made, but I truly believed in my goal and I believed I could achieve it. To be honest, the opportunities I had because of that decision really paid off for me,” Pain said.