Olympic Crunch Time

Published on January 11th, 2016

Americans Paris Henken and Helena Scutt have been sailing together for three years, and are now the top US team in the 49erFX class, the two-person female Olympic skiff event. The two girls are competing to represent the US at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio, and are entering a crucial period where two events will determine their fate:

Sailing World Cup Miami, Miami, Florida, January 25-30, 2016
49erFX World Championships, Clearwater, Florida, February 9-14, 2016

The results from these events will determine if the US gets a slot in the event at the Games, and whether Henken and Scutt will be the team that gets it. Here 20-year-old Henken offers some comments from the campaign:

PHHow has it been as an experience to put school on hold for full-time training?
In order to pursue my dreams of going to the Olympics, I had to stop my college education until after the Games. I don’t regret stopping my education because this experience in the end will teach me many life lessons and skills that people wouldn’t learn in college. It has been an awesome opportunity but I do plan on finishing my college education.

I will go back to the College of Charleston, in South Carolina, next fall to be a second semester freshman and will be sailing for their Varsity Sailing Team. In regards to other Olympics, Helena and I have not made a plan on whether or not we will do another quad, but I think it is likely that I’ll do another quad sometime in the future.

How many different countries have you been to? How has seeing so much of the world impacted you?
I have been to roughly 14 different countries just for sailing and a couple more because of vacation purposes. My favorite place to sail is Lake Garda, Italy and my favorite place because of the area probably is Italy or Spain. However, I went to Indonesia for a family vacation and that was really, really cool.

Not many people get to travel as much as I have at my age and I feel very fortunate to be able too. I have been introduced to lots of different languages and cultures, and I think the fun part of traveling is trying to assimilate to the area where you may be staying for two weeks at a time. You start to learn how everyone else lives apart from living in the USA and when you do go back home to the states, small things like a washer and dryer become more of a luxury than a common household appliance.

Has sailing allowed you to feel that you’ve “found yourself”?
I don’t think the sport, at least not yet, has made me find my purpose or find myself, but it has definitely shaped who I am. It takes a lot of time and effort to be a full-time sailor and the sport has a lot of small details that people don’t fully understand. I think at the beginning of the campaign I was a little naive, but I slowly learned that it has shaped me into a very competitive, aware, and organized person.

Source: The Positive Movement

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