Fifteen U.S. sailors have qualified for the Rio de Janeiro 2016 Olympic Games in 10 different boats. Each of those Olympic spots was filled based on results from two international competitions in each class.
Here’s a look at the sailors who will represent Team USA in Rio.
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt – 49erFX
Paris Henken and Helena Scutt were the first two members named to the 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team following the 49er World Championships in Clearwater, Florida. They were the top U.S. finishers at the 2015 49erFX World Championships, where they placed 20th, and have been the top U.S. boat in eight other races since the start of 2015. Henken, a 20-year-old skipper and native of San Clemente, California, is a student at the College of Charleston in South Carolina. Scutt, who learned to sail growing up on Lake Washington near Seattle but didn’t start to race competitively until high school, sailed for Stanford. The two have been racing the 49erFX together since 2014 and are the top-ranked U.S. team in their class. Both will make their Olympic debuts in Rio.
Bora Gulari and Louisa Chafee – Nacra 17
Louisa Chafee and Bora Gulari will compete in the Nacra 17 class, new for this Olympic cycle. The daughter of former Democratic presidential candidate Lincoln Chafee, Louisa Chafee and Gulari were the top-ranked boat heading into the second of two selection series events and held on to earn the spot despite being a relatively new team. The native of Warwick, Rhode Island, and former Brown sailor has been racing in the Nacra 17 class since 2014, and this will be her Olympic debut. Gulari began sailing the Nacra 17 multihull just over a year ago, but the two-time Moth world champion and U.S. Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year brings a wealth of experience to his new team. Considered one of the best American helmsmen of his generation, Gulari is a native of Istanbul, Turkey, who came to the United States as a toddler and the family settled in Detroit. Gulari was introduced to the sport at a young age as both his parents sailed, and although he made his first Olympic team bid in 2004, this will be Gulari’s debut on the sport’s biggest stage.
Thomas Barrows III and Joe Morris – 49er
Thomas Barrows III was born and raised in St. Thomas, Virgin Islands, and represented the U.S. Virgin Islands at the age of 20 in the Laser class at the 2008 Games before transitioning to the 49er, the fastest of the Olympic classes. Joe Morris grew up sailing on the Severn River near his home of Annapolis, Maryland, and will be competing in his first Olympic Games. The two sailors met in 2008 while attending Yale. Together they won the Fowle Trophy, awarded annually to the best overall collegiate sailing team, in 2009. Barrows was College Sailor of the Year in 2010. Morris was 2012 NEISA Sailor of the Year. The two began training in the 49er class in late 2012 with the goal of earning a trip to Rio.
Paige Railey – Laser Radial
Paige Railey returns to the Games for the second time in the Laser Radial class. The native of Clearwater, Florida, placed eighth in London in 2012 and was the top U.S. boat in her class this year, leading to selection to her second Olympic team. The years since 2012 have been anything but typical. Railey was involved in a serious bicycle accident in August 2014 that left her with a fractured spine, dislocated knuckles and several missing teeth. As one of the most accomplished Laser Radial sailors in the United States, however, Railey recovered quickly once back on the water and won gold at the 2015 Pan American Games and was fourth at the 2015 Olympic test event. She is a former world champion, U.S. Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year.
Caleb Paine – Finn
Caleb Paine earned his first Olympic berth after coming from behind to top 2008 Olympic silver medalist Zach Railey at the Finn European Championship last month. Paine, a native of San Diego, has been the top-ranked American Finn sailor since 2012. The Finn Europeans was the second of two regattas used in the U.S. selection process, and he trailed two-time Olympian Railey in the series by just one point. Paine’s seventh-place finish earned his selection over the veteran. His résumé includes a first-place finish in the Finn class at the 2011-12 ISAF Sailing World Cup series and seventh overall in the 2014 Finn World Championship.
Charlie Buckingham – Laser
Charlie Buckingham has been the top U.S. athlete in the men’s Laser class for four years and is the current North American champion. He was a two-time ICSA College Sailor of the Year and has represented the United States at the Pan American Games and during two test events at the 2016 Olympic venue in Rio. The native of Newport Beach, California, will be making his Olympic debut. His career highlights include seventh-place finishes at both the 2014 Laser World Championship and the 2015 Olympic test event.
Marion Lepert – Women’s RS:X
Marion Lepert earned her spot on the Olympic team after a standout performance at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, the second and final Rio 2016 selection event for RS:X. Trailing 2012 Olympian Farrah Hall by two points in the selection series, Lepert’s performance earned her a spot in the medal race. After a successful youth career, Lepert transitioned to the RS:X in 2013, and in 2015 she chose to take a leave of absence from Stanford to focus on preparing for Rio. Recent results have included silver at the 2015 RS:X U21 European Championship and bronze at the Pan Am Games. This will be her Olympic debut.
Pedro Pascual – Men’s RS:X
Pedro Pascual has been sailing since he was a child, but the Miami native’s breakthrough came in 2015 when he won the RS:ONE European Championship and made the gold fleet at the RS:X European Championship. In early 2016, he made gold fleet at the RS:X World Championship. Pascual, who took a leave from Florida Atlantic to prepare for the Rio Games, earned selection to the team with his performance at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, the second of the two-regatta selection series. This will be his first trip to the Games.
Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha – Women’s 470
Annie Haeger and crewmate Briana Provancha are perhaps Team USA’s best chances for an Olympic medal in sailing this summer, having won last year’s Olympic test event in Rio. Haeger, from East Troy, Wisconsin, and Provancha, of San Diego, met at a 2007 regatta, where Provancha captured a youth world championship and Haeger was a silver medalist. Next they went to Boston College together, where they continued to thrive both together — they won the ICSA women’s doublehanded nationals as seniors in 2012 — and individually, with Haeger winning three ICSA women’s single-handed national championships and Provancha taking three different national titles (2011, match racing; 2010, co-ed; 2008, team race). The 2016 Olympic debutants have been competing together full time in the 470 class since 2012 and have been the top U.S. athletes in their class for the past three and a half years.
Stu McNay and Dave Hughes – Men’s 470
Stu McNay, the most veteran member of the U.S. team, will be making his third trip to the Olympic Games, this time with Dave Hughes. They teamed up after the London Games and rose quickly through the 470 ranks, and in addition to their numerous gold medals were also finalists for the U.S. Sailing Rolex Yachtsman of the Year in 2014 and 2015. McNay and Hughes have been to the 470 World Championships twice this Olympic quadrennium and finished top-six both times. Hughes was also an Olympic team coach in London in 2012 in the 49er class.
Karen Price is a reporter from Pittsburgh who has covered Olympic sports for various publications. She is a freelance contributor to TeamUSA.org on behalf of Red Line Editorial, Inc.