This day exactly a year ago was the eve of our Olympic Trials beginning in Miami. 2016, what a year!
Very few people can say that they are Olympians. Even fewer can say that they have won a race at the Olympics (let alone the one when all the cameras and helicopters were on their racecourse ). Even fewer can say that they made the Olympic finals and delivered their career-best performance at the biggest. event. of. their. lives.
We are super proud to have made the medal race and finished 10th overall, and in doing so, be part of history as the first FX Olympic medal race ever, and arguably the most exciting medal race of Rio 2016! Doing it all with a giant American flag spinnaker made it that much better.
After much reflection, we have decided to go on separate paths. Paris will continue studying for her Bachelor’s degree and competing for the Varsity Sailing team at the College of Charleston, in addition to sailing the FX whenever she can. Helena will finish her Master’s degree at Stanford in June and is making the switch to the Nacra 17 class, to sail with Rio 2016 Olympian Bora Gulari on the road to a gold medal in Tokyo 2020.
Last weekend we had a blast racing together, going fast and laughing at each other as always. We are as close as ever and look forward to growing a lot and supporting each other, even though we won’t be joined at the hip on the boat and on the road!
We have no words to describe our gratitude to the people and sponsors that have supported us. The transformation – from a “personal project” of competing at the Olympics to a goal and a team that is much bigger than ourselves, bringing people of all ages together, sailors and non-sailors alike – has blown us away (no pun intended).
Rewinding… Four years ago, after the efforts of several determined people including Helena’s coach Jen Morgan Glass, it was announced that a new boat design, the 49erFX, would be in the 2016 Olympics. Somehow Luther Carpenter and Charlie McKee saw something in the nonchalant 17-year-old and 20-year-old who had been sailing for barely five years.
We had our fair share of failures – a broken spine/lacerated kidney, 4 broken masts, surgery on both hands, fundraising, missing the first two rounds of country qualification… But we pressed on. We are forever changed by this opportunity to meet the most inspiring people, travel the world with a best friend, work hard at improving ourselves and pushing each other every day, perform under pressure, and represent the United States of America. Does it get any better than that?! We even got to meet President Obama, FLOTUS Michelle, VP Biden, and the Obamas’ dogs… so no, it does not get any better!
We would like to thank:
– Our families: Thanks for your patience when we found ourselves in the hospital, had empty bank accounts, had one-track minds, and missed your birthdays, graduations, and holidays.
– Our coaches: Willie McBride, Ramon Oliden, Luther Carpenter, Pete Spaulding, and Charlie McKee.
– Our amazing team, the US Sailing Team Sperry: its staff – Josh Adams, Meredith Brody, Will Ricketson, Martha Fortin, Kate Drummey, Donnie Brennan, Dave Dellenbaugh, Maru Urban, Porto Charitas/the Claro family, and sponsors Sperry, Sunbrella,Harken, McLube, Groupe Bénéteau.
– The United States Olympic Committee and the Olympic Sailing Committee
– Our sponsors: Expedia, Oakley, Avasol, Spinnaker Watches
– St. Francis Sailing Foundation, Seattle Yacht Club Foundation, Sailing Foundation of New York,Northern California Olympians & Paralympians, Oakcliff Sailing Center
– Our strength coaches and PTs: Trey Watson and Chris Herrera of Jaguar Therapeutics, Dr. Chris Ellis and Dr. Julio Pardarve
– Our sport psychologist: Jerry May
– Our training partners from the USA, ARG, NED, DEN
– 49er Sailing class executives
– All Rio 2016 Summer Olympics volunteers and organizers for the most amazing event of our lives
– ***All of the individuals who donated to our campaign***, even when we didn’t have the most amazing resume. Thanks for that extra support beyond cheering us on. We hope we made you proud.
Thank you all!
Deeply grateful and looking forward to giving back to this community,
– Paris & Helena: Sailing to 2016, mission accomplished.