Two-Sport Female Athlete Represents Team USA in World Youth Sailing Championships

Paloma Arrigo attributes her success and ability to overcome adversity in part to two female Olympian coaches.

(July 28, 2023, Volos, Greece) Before the rising sun bursts the morning sky with golden radiance, Paloma Arrigo departs her home in Newport Beach at 5:45 a.m. to swim thousands of yards in her pool at Corona del Mar High School. Paloma’s time in the pool is followed by weight training several days per week and more swimming in the evenings. This is the regimen expected of a water polo player and, as a by-product, world-class sailing competition.

Today, as the sun rises in Volos, Greece, Paloma is not heading to the pool but instead to the boatyard where she will beach launch her Olympic class ILCA sailboat. She and fourteen other American girls are here to represent the United States at the International Laser Class Association (ILCA) 4 Youth World Sailing Championship. Paloma’s intensive training in aquatics is complemented by rigorous training in sailing led by New Zealand Olympic Sailing Team member Susannah Chapman, who earned a berth on the team for the London Games in 2012. The ILCA 4 Youth Worlds is the largest ILCA sailing event yet, with 440 competitors from over 50 countries.

Female coaches have helped propel Paloma to high-level competition in two sports. Female participation at this world-level competition increased from five female USA athletes in 2022 to fourteen in 2023. “I feel that my water polo and sailing coach have set the tone by demonstrating what female athletes can accomplish,” said Paloma. “Without their leadership, I know I would not be where I am today in national water polo and international sailing competitions,” she concluded.   Paloma and her team mates are getting more challenges than they expected at the World Youth Championship competition. On July 26th, racing was cancelled due to 106-degree Fahrenheit temperatures, no wind, and a sudden 45-knot windstorm.  On July 26th nearby towns were evacuated. Paloma’s coach Susannah Chapman and all other international coaches were called upon to use their coach boats to rescue evacuees from local towns along with the Greek Coast Guard.   Paloma continued, “with all of these challenges, it was my determination, inspired by my coaches to continue to race.”  Paloma overcame an unintentional premature starting penalty to rise to mid-fleet after the day’s racing.  As she pointed out, for the girls, its all about camaraderie and sportsmanship. 

About Paloma Arrigo

Paloma first sailed a boat to an island in the bay where she grew up at age 5. Since then, her passion for sailboat racing has grown to national and international competition in the ICLA4, ILCA6, Flying Junior (FJ), C420, Optimist, and Naples Sabot sailboat classes. Paloma has recently participated in the Miami, Florida, USA Orange Bowl International Youth Regatta (2022, 2023), Midwinters East (Clearwater, FL), Olympic Classes Regatta 2022 (Long Beach, CA USA; 1st place ILCA4 class), Olympic Classes Regatta 2022 (San Francisco, CA USA). She is experimenting with wing foiling as her next sailing challenge. She trains under New Zealand Olympian Susannah Chapman. She sailed for the Corona del Mar High School sailing team. In addition to her passion for sailing, she is a member of Corona del Mar High School’s water polo team.  A female coach and three-time Olympian, Melissa Seidemann lead Paloma’s training, preparing her for the challenge of league championship water polo competitions Prior she played soccer for the Slammers youth soccer team.

Paloma is the youngest of three girls. Her sister Isabella (“Isa”) Arrigo graduated with honors from Corona del Mar High School. She was captain of the Corona del Mar sailing team, earning fifth in the high school girls’ national championship. She will attend Fordham University in the fall and plans to be a collegiate sailing team member.

About Team USA

Thirteen boys and thirteen girls from diverse areas of the country are competing, including the hometowns of Seattle, Miami, Long Beach, Newport Beach, Chicago, and Charleston, South Carolina.  Members of Team USA qualified to sail in the Youth World Championships by competing in Olympic Classes Regattas and other national competitions in the U.S. in the past year.

About the ILCA 4 Youth World Championship

The ILCA 4 Youth World Championship is being held in Volos, Greece, and is hosted by the Nautical Club Volos Argonautes.  Opening ceremonies were held at 8:00 p.m. on Monday, July 24. The first day of racing is Tuesday, July 25.  The ILCA 4 Youth Worlds is the largest ILCA youth sailing event ever, with 438 competitors from over 50 countries.   The Volos wildfires near the competition caused nearby Greek military weapons depot missiles to explode as the fire consumed them.  The Greek Coast Guard rescued evacuees, other first responders, and volunteer sailing coaches, including Susannah Chapman, who were credited with saving 100 evacuees.   The World Sailing approved venue, and organizers kept the participants and volunteers safe while organizing an exciting event.

About the ILCA Sailboat

The ILCA (formerly known as the “Laser”) is the world’s most popular small boat for young sailors. So-called dinghies introduce girls and boys to the physically challenging sport of open sailboat racing. Over 225,000 ILCA dinghies have been built since the 1970s. The International Laser Class Association promotes an even and equitable boat that enables those sailors with the best skill and fitness to rise to the top while providing an affordable boat that many sailors can access. Most of the boats are still racing and offer a low-cost way of experiencing the thrill of sailing and racing. The ILCA is sailed in three configurations. The ILCA 4 has a sail area of 4.7 square meters and is ideal for younger sailors. The ILCA 6 has a sail area of 5.76 square meters and is the Olympic single-handed boat for women. Female ILCA 4 sailors progress to the ILCA 6. The ILCA 7 is the Olympic single-handed boat for men, with a sail area of 7.06 square meters. There are now seven approved manufacturers worldwide.