Paris Henken and Helena Scutt became the first members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team after winning the 49erFX Olympic selection series in Miami and Clearwater, FL.
After finishing 17th at the first 49erFX selection event – the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami in January, where they earned the U.S. an Olympic country spot – Henken and Scutt held first place by a slim one-point lead. Just over a week later in Clearwater, by being the only US sailors at the 2016 49erFX World Championships to make gold fleet, they sufficiently outpaced the rest of the field of U.S. sailors to punch their tickets to Rio. They finished the Worlds 13th overall (10th country), a big improvement from 20th at the 2015 Worlds just 3 months ago, and 29th at the ISAF Worlds in 2014. They were the top U.S. finishers at both previous Worlds. Henken and Scutt look to continue their upward trend and will continue to work as hard as ever to get on the podium in Rio de Janeiro.
Henken, 20, put her college degree at the College of Charleston on hold in order to pursue this Olympic goal full-time. Scutt, 23, is from Seattle and graduated from Stanford University in 2014. She took a leave of absence from her Master’s degree, also at Stanford, to commit to their goal. The highlight of their 2015 season was a bronze medal at the Toronto 2015 Pan American Games, missing out on silver by a single boat length. Their campaign has not been an easy road. Besides balancing school with sailing in the early days of their campaign, they have battled major injuries and surgery and done all of their own fundraising and logistics. Both plan to return to their degrees in the fall and hope to campaign again.
This is the first Olympic Games to include the 49erFX, a high performance skiff for two women. The men’s high performance skiff, the 49er, has been included since Sydney 2000. This is a pivotal time for international women’s skiff sailing, and Henken and Scutt are leading the way for young women in the United States.
If you’d like to support Paris and Helena, whose journey is still far from over with 6 months until the Games, please visit http://henkenscuttsailing.com/donate/ to see how to make your tax-deductible donation.
For more information, visit their website: http://henkenscuttsailing.com
See them describe their team dynamic in the video here: http://uncharted.sunbrella.com/athlete/henken-scutt/
To watch ground-breaking coverage of the 49er and 49erFX World Championships, go to: https://www.youtube.com/user/49erSailingOffical/videos?live_view=503&shelf_id=7&sort=dd&view=2