Please select your home edition
Edition
Stoneways Marine 2021 - LEADERBOARD

American Sailor – Helena Scutt

by Dana Paxton, US Sailing 16 Mar 2013 11:14 GMT 16 March 2013
Paris Henken & Helena Scutt at the first US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider and US Sailing Development Team’s training camp of 2013 © US Sailing

Get to know 49er FX athlete Helena Scutt, who reports in from Miami and the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider training camp. She talks boat speed, team work and sharks in this exclusive report.

Thanks to the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider and US Sailing Development Team's first training camp of 2013, Miami Yacht Club is oozing high performance as 49ers, 49er FXs, Nacra 17s, F16s, and 470s crowd the beach.

This weekend I crewed for US Sailing Development Team member Paris Henken in the 49er FX. We have each come a long way since we last sailed together – exactly three years ago in a 29er at Miami Yacht Club, in fact. Growing up competing against each other in the 29er (Paris as a skipper and me as a crew), our extensive 29er experience has made for a natural transition into the 49erFX.

Miami Beach dealt very diverse conditions in just the first three days. For example, Saturday started as light as 4 knots with ocean swell but eventually picked up to over 15 knots. The shifty condition lent itself to technique work rather than speed tuning. On Sunday we stayed inside the harbor area and did lots of short course racing (theater-style) in very puffy and shifty conditions with completely flat water. Paris and I had tons of fun as evidenced by our big smiles and laughter all day. With so many starts and mark roundings it was evident that boat handling was a strength for us, thanks to our time in the 29er. We were especially motivated to avoid capsizing after we saw a shark below our boat!

Throughout the camp, I felt extremely fortunate to have such high-level coaches sharing their knowledge and accelerating our development as Olympic class sailors. The camp's technical focus was clear right away when it began with Technical Director Grant Spanhake teaching aspects of sail shape. The days were packed with information and practice. For example, no time was wasted as we raced on our way out to the ocean. Competitive drive immediately flowed and focused all the teams for the long session that day.

Alongside class-specific debriefs, some talks brought the whole camp together on topics such as downwind tactics or communication by High Performance Director Charlie McKee. One of my major takeaways was the importance of instantly switching mental focus between tactical decisions and boat speed. The focus on boat speed is especially crucial in fast boats such as the 49er FX because a small difference in percentage of maximum boat speed translates quickly to distance around the racecourse.

Another reason why Charlie's communication talk resonated with me is that I am currently balancing college sailing and 49er FX sailing, two very different types of sailing. Ultimately there are more similarities than differences. Whether you are hiking or trapezing, playing the jib or the spinnaker: communication, teamwork, and focus are keys across classes.

Finally, I'd like to thank Charlie McKee and Senior Olympic Coach Luther Carpenter for giving me the big picture but also pointing out all the small things that I didn't think they could see or would have noticed from the coach boat. They caught it all! But that is exactly what we need, because as Charlie says, winning medals for the USA is not going to be about doing one big thing better, but rather, about improving on hundreds of little things.

Send it!

- Helena

To follow Helena on her road to Rio 2016, read her blog here.

Related Articles

Gimson & Burnet win European Nacra 17 title
Backing up Olympic medal at Tokyo 2020 Britain's John Gimson and Anna Burnet added the Nacra 17 European Championship title to their Tokyo 2020 silver in a commanding performance in Thessaloniki, Greece. Posted today at 2:53 pm
49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Europeans overall
Staniul & Sztorch narrowly win 49er Euros in a first for Poland Mikolaj Staniul with Kuba Sztorch (POL) won a tit for tat battle with Tim Fischer with Fabian Graf that played out over two 49er gold races on the final day in Thessaloniki. Posted today at 1:59 pm
Bronze for Antonia & Georgia Lewin-LaFrance
At the 2021 49er FX European Championships Canadian sailors Antonia and Georgia Lewin-LaFrance from Chester, N.S., won the bronze medal at the 2021 49er FX European Championships held in Thessaloniki, Greece. Posted today at 6:40 am
49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Europeans day 3
French Nacra squad making strides For three French Nacra 17 teams, they are working cooperatively on the med coast, sharing time between Marseilles and La Grand Motte, and working against time to move into the elite group as quickly as possible. Posted on 17 Sep
49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Europeans day 2
Next generation of Spanish, German, Austrian, and American skiffs Most of the big names in 49er sailing are taking some well earned time off after Tokyo. As such, now is the time for the Paris potential stars to usurp the aging veterans. Posted on 16 Sep
49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 Europeans day 1
Raw rookies and Olympic veterans lead on day one The Schultheis sisters had a storybook start to their first ever European Championships winning all three races. Posted on 15 Sep
49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 Europeans day 1
Finally, racing starts in Thessaloniki for 112 teams The 49er, 49erFX, and Nacra 17 European Championships begins racing on September 14, 2021. It was originally scheduled for May 2020, then September 2020, then May 2021, and now finally will occur in the denouement from Tokyo 2020. Posted on 14 Sep
Mike Milner on Team Canada's sailing at Tokyo 2020
David Schmidt checks in with the team's high-performance director I checked in with Mike Milner, Sail Canada's high-performance director, via email, to debrief Team Canada's sailing performances at this summer's XXXII Olympiad and to discuss the team's course back to the Olympic sailing podium. Posted on 1 Sep
Tokyo2020 - Some historic images from Enoshima
For those still keen for an Olympic sailing fix, here's some new images from our photo library For those still keen for an Olympic sailing fix, here's some new images from Sail-World's photo library from Tokyo2020, plus a couple of short stories about the historical significance of the images and sailors. Posted on 1 Sep
Paris2024: Antipodean re-think required
Tokyo2020 proved to be a game of snakes and ladders for the 17 countries who divvied up 30 medals When the medal table was added up, Tokyo2020 proved to be the proverbial game of snakes and ladders for the 17 countries who divvied up the 30 medals. Nine European nations increased their medal haul from Rio. Oceania was the biggest loser. Posted on 31 Aug