Cowles Twins: The process continues

Published on July 21st, 2020

Emma (left) and Carmen.

After twice winning the World Sailing Youth World Championships in the International 420, it was natural for Carmen and Emma Cowles to dream of the Olympics. But when the Women’s Two Person Dinghy event was getting eliminated after Tokyo 2020, the twins were shaken awake. It was now or never.

Their enrollment at Yale University in the fall of 2019 would need to wait as they went all in on a campaign, transitioning into the 470, hoping to catch up with two other new teams vying for selection. And it was all coming together, as the three squads were nearly even on points entering the final deciding event.

But now with COVID-19 postponing the Olympics to 2021, it would be another gap year for the sisters as they stay on course to represent the USA. Here’s their latest update as they celebrate their 20th birthdays on July 21, 2020:


We hope that this newsletter finds you all well, wherever you are weathering the pandemic. As for us, we are happy to report that our team is as healthy and strong as ever, and we have been able to safely return to training on the water again!

Yes, the bulk of our equipment is still in Palma de Mallorca, Spain so we took the cobwebs out of our practice boat, “Kiwis can Fly.” After a few upgrades to bring her up to speed, it didn’t take long before we could begin our first week of practice on our home waters on the Long Island Sound.

We wrapped up our “back on the water” transition from being housebound to sailing again out of our home club, the Larchmont Yacht Club, with the July 4th weekend. It was good to be home, and we certainly enjoyed the extra TLC that comes with it!

Training in Buzzards Bay
On July 5th, we headed up north to Marion, MA for some solid training blocks. Stu McNay and Dave Hughes, the Men 470 US Olympic Sailing Team, have graciously welcomed us to join their training out of Beverly Yacht Club. We can’t thank them enough for their support!

Arranging for BYC to open their doors to us to train with them this summer is only one example of Stu and Dave’s commitment to help the new generation of Olympic hopefuls. The training has been very constructive, and the sailing conditions are top notch with winds varying from 8-18 knots! So yes, long days on and off the water are back!

In today’s COVID environment, it is not easy to find a club that will welcome sailors other than their own members to set up a “training camp” for several weeks. Yet, BYC has been there for us on all fronts, and we are most grateful! A little extra thank you as well to its past commodore, Jack Gierhart, for sharing his mooring 🙂

Training away from home brings its own challenges with housing (a significant component to our campaign budget), especially these days. Once again, the Sheehan family has been there for us: the lake house outside of Plymouth, MA is a perfect retreat for us to return to after a long day of boat work and sailing. We enjoy its peaceful setting and the relaxing ride to and from the BYC.

As they rightfully say… it takes a village! Thank you all!

Status Update on Olympic Qualification…
As many of you are aware, our Olympic qualification process remains “dynamic.” Our original final qualifier last March in Palma de Mallorca was postponed to this October. However, given the current COVID circumstances, the US Olympic Selection Committee has decided that our final qualifier will now be the 2021 470 World Championship in Vilamoura, Portugal scheduled for March 5-13, 2021.

Based on our results in the last two selection regattas, all three US Women 470 teams are really close. We are virtually tied with the Brugman sisters — just one point behind — given the fact that the last qualifier is also the tie breaker. Beating both teams in Portugal, as we have done since September 2019, will qualify us for the Games.

Happy summer, be well and stay safe. – Carmen and Emma

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