After proving themselves to be the top U.S. sailors in the 49erFX class this year, Paris Henken and Helena Scutt have become the first members of the 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team.
After four days of racing at the 49er World Championships in Clearwater, Florida, Henken and Scutt have mathematically secured their place and become the first U.S. sailors qualified to compete at the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio de Janeiro. Quota spots on the U.S. Olympic Team are filled based on results over two major international events for each class. After finishing 17th at the first 49erFX event – the ISAF Sailing World Cup in Miami in January, where they earned the U.S. an Olympic quota spot – Henken and Scutt held first place by a slim one-point lead. Currently sitting in ninth with one more day of racing at the world championships, they sufficiently outpaced the rest of the field of U.S. sailors to punch their tickets to Rio.
The third-ranked U.S. boat of Genevieve Tulloch and Maggie Shea, who had been 14 points behind Henken and Scutt, are currently in 37th at worlds. Emily Dellenbaugh and Elizabeth Barry, second in the U.S. rankings, received a disqualification in the second-to-last race and are currently 41st.
Henken and Scutt 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. 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. Both Henken and Scutt will be competing in their first Olympic Games in Rio.
Four more U.S. sailors will be named to the Olympic team at the world championships this weekend, as boats in the 49er and Nacra 17 classes look to join Henken and Scutt on the Olympic roster.