Leaving No Doubt: The Prodigy and the Olympian

These two dynamos are dominating on the water.

Rolex, Yachtsman, Yachtswoman, Sailing, Yachting
The 2016 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year are Caleb Paine and Daniela Moroz, both of California.Left: Onne van der Wal; Right: Yoby Bromwich

The 2016 Rolex Yachtsman and Yachtswoman of the Year are Caleb Paine and Daniela Moroz, both of California.

Daniela Moroz, the judges say, is “a prodigy in an up-and-coming sport.” She’s mastering the kitesurfing scene and besting competitors everywhere from China to Australia. On her foiling kiteboard, she says, she rides 2 to 3 feet off the water and can hit speeds from 30 to 50 knots. The only thing she fears? Fish.

“The wipeouts can be pretty gnarly, but it’s worth the risk,” she said by cellphone following chemistry class at her high school, where friends were eager to see her new Rolex watch. “You’re going so fast, and it literally feels like flying. And once you get the hang of it, you wipe out less and less. If you hit a fish or something — that happens all the time to me — then you’re going down.”

Daniela Moroz, Kitesurfing, Rolex, Yachtswoman, Yachting
Daniela Moroz Judges say the 16-year-old is a prodigy.Michael Petrikov

Ironically for a Yachtswoman of the Year, Moroz says she has never thought much about stepping aboard a sailboat.

“My parents were highly competitive windsurfers,” she says. “They always thought that sailing was, well, not slow, but windsurfing gave them more of a rush. I have heard from them that sailing is a lot slower, and on the kites, people are amazed at how fast we can go.”

The California girl hopes to represent the United States if kitesurfing becomes an Olympic sport. It is expected to be an exhibition sport in 2020 at the Tokyo Games, giving the International ­Olympic ­Committee, the press and much of the world a chance to see how the foiling boards work for the first time.

“I definitely hope to be a part of that,” she says. “It would be amazing. If it’s successful, they’ll put it in [the medal events] for 2024, which could potentially be in Los Angeles, so for me, that would be like competing at home.”

“It literally feels like flying. If you hit a fish or something — that happens all the time to me — then you’re going down.”

- Daniela Moroz

Earning an Olympic medal would put Moroz on par with the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year, Caleb Paine, also of California. His bronze medal in the Finn dinghy class at the 2016 games in Brazil allowed him to take US Sailing’s first trip to the winners’ podium in eight years.

Caleb Paine, Sailing, Rolex, Yachtsman, Yachting
Caleb Paine Already a bronze-medal Olympian, Paine is now aiming to sail for gold.Jen Edney

Paine, like Moroz, is already looking to the 2020 Olympic Games. “The goal is gold in Tokyo,” he says. “I’ve been sailing pretty well, but to get a gold is going to take a lot of hard work and dedication.”

Also like Moroz, Paine is still finishing school. The 26-year-old is earning a bachelor’s degree in shipping logistics, which he hopes will lead him to the California State University Maritime Academy.

“Being able to solve lots of problems all at the same time is something I’m ­fairly decent at,” he says. “Shipping has no shortage of issues and crises, so I thought I’d be a good fit.”

While he launches his next Olympic campaign, Paine is living aboard his newly purchased Nauticat 33, Lost and Found. The fixer-upper spent six months afloat in the Pacific before showing up off Hawaii. "The mizzenmast was gone," he says, "but the main mast was still there."

He hopes to sail her this summer on San Francisco Bay.

“I’m doing through-hulls right now,” he says with a laugh. “My dad and I were grinding the fiberglass.”

1961-2015 WINNERS

2015 Steve Benjamin/Annie Haeger 2014 Terry Hutchinson/Stephanie Roble 2013 Brian Porter/Jody Starck 2012 Johnny ­Heineken/Jen French 2011 Bill Hardesty/Anna ­Tunnicliffe 2010 Stan Honey/Anna Tunnicliffe 2009 Bora Gulari/Anna Tunnicliffe 2008 Terry ­Hutchinson/Anna Tunnicliffe 2007 Jeff Linton/Sally Barkow 2006 Jud Smith/Paige Railey 2005 Nick Scandone/Sally Barkow 2004 Paul Foerster & Kevin Burnham/Jody Swanson 2003 Augie Diaz/Hannah Swett 2002 John Kostecki/Liz Baylis 2001 Steve Fossett/Cory Sertl 2000 Mark Reynolds & Magnus Liljedahl/JJ Isler & Pease Glaser 1999 Eric Doyle/Dawn Riley 1998 Paul Cayard /Betsy (Gelenitis) Alison 1997 Chris Larson/JJ Isler 1996 Dave ­Ullman/Courtenay (Becker) Dey 1995 Ed Baird/Cory Sertl 1994 Ken Read/Danielle Brennan 1993 Cam Lewis/Betsy (­Gelenitis) ­Alison 1992 Kevin Mahaney/Julia Trotman 1991 Ed Adams/JJ Isler 1990 Jim Brady/­Courtenay Becker 1989 Larry Klein/Jody Swanson 1988 John Kostecki/Allison ­Jolly & Lynne Jewell 1987 Ed Adams/Susan Dierdorff Taylor 1986 Dennis Conner/JJ Isler 1985 Ken Read/Kathy Steele & Heidi Backus 1984 Bill Buchan/Betsy Gelenitis 1983 Dave Curtis/Wendy Thomson 1982 Randy Smyth/Betsy Gelenitis 1981 Dave Curtis/Betsy ­Gelenitis 1980 Dennis Conner/Lynne Jewell 1979 Ted Turner/Nell Taylor 1978 Buddy Melges/Bonnie Shore 1977 Ted Turner/Jan O’Malley 1976 Lowell North/Allison Jolly 1975 Dennis Conner/Joan Ellis 1974 Ted Hood/Sally Lindsay 1973 Ted Turner/Sally Lindsay 1972 Buddy Melges/Jane Pegel 1971 Ding Schoonmaker/Jane Pegel 1970 Ted Turner/Jan O’Malley 1969 Robert F. Johnson/Jan O’Malley 1968 Lowell North/June Methot 1967 Bus Mosbacher/Betty Foulk 1966 Bill Cox/Jerie Clark 1965 Dick Tillman/Timothea (Schneider) Larr 1964 Bob Bavier/Jane Pegel 1963 Joe Duplin/Leggie Mertz 1962 Bus Mosbacher/Sue Sinclair 1961 Buddy Melges/Timothea Schneider