Olympic bronze medallist in the Finn Class, Caleb Paine and IKA Formula Kite World Champion Daniela Moroz have been announced the winners of the prestigious award

Olympic Bronze medallist Caleb Paine and IKA Formula Kite World Champion Daniela Moroz are celebrating after being selected as the 2016 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year by US Sailing.

This decision follows the announcement in December of the eight men and six women shortlisted for the award.

Both Paine and Moroz will be presented with their awards on 2 March 2017 during a luncheon at the New York Yacht Club in Manhattan.

Paine, who shared a podium in Rio 2016 with Olympic gold medallist in the Finn class, Giles Scott, was under immense pressure to win a medal for Team USA.

It was his first career Olympic Games.

“It was a tough battle for me, and I feel fortunate to come up with a medal in the end,” stated Paine after his medal win.

“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,” he added.

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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,” he explained.

“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. Olympic Sailing Team berth over Beijing 2008 Silver medallist Zach Railey, who came out of retirement in late 2015.

A Sailing World Cup Series Champion, Paine has been the top-ranked American Finn sailor since 2012, according to US Sailing.

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 at the Olympics since Railey and Anna Tunnicliffe (Gold), both accomplished the feat at the 2008 Beijing Games.

Paine, 25, grew up in Southern California, 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 child, and devoted himself to mastering the one-person Sabot.

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US Sailing’s 2016 Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, Daniela Moroz is considered to be something of a foiling prodigy.

Kite surfer Daniela Moroz. Credit: You Tube

She was just 15 when she took the IKA Formula Kite World Championship last September in Weifang-Binhai, China.

Moroz was on equal points with reigning world champion, Russian Elena Kalinina, 18, on the last day of racing.

Despite the light air, which had typically favored Kalinina, Moroz won all four races on the final day to secure the world championship.

Moroz achieved top results throughout 2016 on the Hydrofoil Pro Tour.

She placed first in the women’s fleet at the Final Round in Rockingham, Western Australia and first place at Round Three in Pointe d’Esny, Mauritius.

Her consistent results propelled her to the top of the Hydrofoil Pro Tour women’s final standings.

“It didn’t feel real at first,” said Moroz, who’s parents are both windsurfers.

“I couldn’t believe it actually happened. It’s always been something I dreamed of doing ever since I started kiting,” she said.

“I’ve been training and racing with Erika Heineken since the beginning and she is a role model and inspiration to me. To be able to do what she did means a lot,” she added.

Describing the Hydrofoil Pro Tour as “one of the most amazing experiences of my life”, Moroz now has her sights set on another world championship and she would like to race on the Hydrofoil Pro Tour again in 2017.

She also has high hopes that kiteboarding is selected as a sailing event for the 2020 Games in Tokyo.

Moroz, who learnt how to kiteboard at the age of 11, will also be preparing to compete at the Buenos Aires 2018 Summer Youth Olympic Games.

The US Sailing Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year awards were established in 1961, and have been awarded to 44 men and 35 women.

Among those to have received the accolades are Ed Adams, Betsy Alison, Sally Barkow, Dave Curtis, Dennis Conner, JJ Fetter, Allison Jolly, John Kostecki, Buddy Melges, Lowell North, Jan O’Malley, Jane Pegel, Ken Read, Cory Sertl, Lynne Shore, Jody Starck, Anna Tunnicliffe and Ted Turner.