Stanford Daily » Sailing 3/11/2016 Fri, 11 Mar 2016 07:08:11 +0000 en-US hourly 1 Helena Scutt ’14 realizes Olympic dream Wed, 09 Mar 2016 11:32:51 +0000 There are few people in this world capable of racing a 49er FX around a course more quickly than Helena Scutt ’14. The two-time Stanford sailing team captain recently qualified for the 2016 Olympic Games after she and skipper Paris Henken topped their domestic competition, and the duo is now in the midst of making preparations to square off against top teams from around the globe.

Helena Scutt during S

Helena Scutt ’14 (above) and skipper Paris Henken qualified for the 2016 Olympics Games in the 49er FX after finishing 13th place at the World Championship in February – their highest placing in a world championship event. (JOHN TODD/

Henken and Scutt secured their spot in the world’s premier athletic event after finishing 13th at the World Championship last month, 21 places above the next American boat. This result marked the capstone of a multi-year campaign by the pair to become the first U.S. team ever to represent its nation in the 49er FX, a high-performance sailboat that will also make its Olympic debut in 2016.

“You get so wrapped up in the process, and then all of a sudden it’s like, ‘Wait, we actually achieved a big part of what we wanted to,’” Scutt said.

Scutt’s and Henken’s finish put them above participants from all but nine other countries, an important distinction considering the Olympics only allows one boat per nation. Though the pair narrowly missed the ability to participate in the event-ending medal race, its result was the highest they’ve ever achieved in a championship event, and the team hopes it has proven that it can compete with the uppermost level of competition.

“We were really hungry for a good result,” Scutt admitted. “Of course we wanted to win, but we also just wanted to show all our progress because we really felt like we’ve improved a lot recently. That was the thing – even though we qualified partway through, we were still trying to put up the best results we could in every single race.”

Scutt’s and Henken’s pathway to the Games has not been without obstacle. Scutt has battled back from multiple injuries, including a series of serious traumas sustained in a horrific 2013 boat-to-boat collision and a more recent carpal tunnel disorder caused by the sheer number of hours she has spent on the water.

The team has also rebounded from a few difficult results, including a 20th-place performance at the 2015 World Championship that left it briefly uncertain of whether the U.S. would even be able to send a representative to the Olympics.

Regardless of how they manage in their ultimate challenge, Scutt will put an end to her full-time training regimen after the Games and will return to school next September. She and Henken have secured funding to continue sailing together through 2017, but Scutt will simultaneously push to complete a Stanford master’s degree with time yet again of the essence.

“You have a three-year time limit [to complete your co-terminal degree] – I graduated in 2014, so that means I have to wrap it up by June 2017. So if I start in the fall, I can [enroll for] three quarters and, in the nick of time, I’ll finish.”


Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

]> 0 Richartz_Scutt Helena Scutt during S
Stanford sailors struggle with light winds, fail to place at singlehanded nationals Wed, 11 Nov 2015 10:40:27 +0000 The collegiate singlehanded campaigns of sophomore Luke Muller, sophomore Haley Fox and freshman Olivia Gugliemini ended just short of ultimate success in Norfolk, Virginia last weekend as the Cardinal sailors failed to reach the victory podium in the men’s and women’s championships.

Stanford Sailing at the Stanford University Rowing and Sailing Center in Redwood Shores, CA on April 2, 2015

Sophomores Luke Muller (above) and Haley Fox and freshman Olivia Gugliemini struggled in the light wind at the men’s and women’s singlehanded championship last weekend in Norfolk, Virginia. The trio placed sixth, ninth, and 14th respectively. (GANI PIÑERO/

Light wind speeds affected the performances of the Stanford skippers over the course of the event, particularly on the first day of racing. The singlehanded boats used for the championship are more known for their performance in heavy breezes, and the change in tactics that accompany a less steady wind velocity coupled with the reduction in the number of races run made it difficult for the Cardinal to achieve their best results.

Muller finished sixth in the men’s racing, gaining considerable ground on the second day after struggling in the particularly windless first races. The sophomore appeared capable of hanging with the top finishers on the moderately breezy second day, though he fell a little later in the afternoon when speeds once again began to die toward the end of the event.

The skipper was the runner-up in the regatta last year, and his consistently strong performances in singlehanded events should make him a favorite to bring the title back to Stanford in the future, in what would be the program’s first title since 2006.

In the women’s event, Fox worked her way up to ninth and Gugliemini finished 14th in the face of strong competition. Fox and Gugliemini struggled in the lighter air as well, finishing just fourth and third from the bottom of the group, respectively, after the first day of racing.

Both skippers saw their results improve considerably on the second day, though their first-day finishes hampered their ability to seriously contend for top results.

Stanford earned three of the four PCCSC conference qualification spots for these regattas at the end of September. Muller won the men’s qualifier and Fox and Gugliemini captured the top two spots of the corresponding women’s event to earn their way to Norfolk.

With the final major fall championship event complete, Stanford will wrap up its fall competition at the conference doublehanded championship this weekend and the Big Sail on Nov. 17. Though neither event has any implications outside of the conference, both will give the Cardinal a chance to capture some bragging rights as they prepare to enter the racing lull of their winter practice season.


Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

]> 0 Stanford Sailing Stanford Sailing at the Stanford University Rowing and Sailing Center in Redwood Shores, CA on April 2, 2015
Sailing misses out on spot at match racing nationals Wed, 04 Nov 2015 11:15:55 +0000 Stanford sailing achieved up-and-down results at home in Redwood City last weekend, dominating the Women’s Pacific Coast Championship but failing to qualify for the collegiate match racing nationals in two of its final events for the fall season.

Stanford Sailing at the Stanford University Rowing and Sailing Center in Redwood Shores, CA on April 2, 2015

Stanford sailing won only one of three races against UC Santa Barbara this weekend, losing a spot in the collegiate match racing nationals. (GANI PIÑA/

In the qualifier, sophomore Luke Muller and crews junior Daniel Ron and senior Sammy Steele fell to second despite winning 10 of their 12 head-to-head battles. The group dominated the regatta’s laggard finishers of Hawaii, UC Berkeley and USC by a 9-0 margin, but took just one of three against its final opponent, UC Santa Barbara.

Gauchos skipper Chris Weis finished 8-1 in his other races, tying with the Cardinal in total wins but securing the overall victory based on his performance against Stanford when the two raced head-to-head.

The result ended Stanford’s contention for one of the six national distinctions for which Cardinal sailors are likely to compete. However, Stanford will have the chance to make up for it next weekend when Muller, sophomore Hayley Fox and freshman Olivia Gugliemini participate in the men’s and women’s singlehanded nationals.

The Women’s PCC’s went better, as four Cardinal boats ended in the top five through a series of impressive individual performances. Freshman skipper Maria El-Khazindar and sophomore crew Sarah Lucas won the title, riding victories in seven of the 15 races and narrowly topping teammates freshman skipper Martina Sly and crew Maggie Schult.

Freshmen skipper Cassie Obel and crew Lauren Block succeeded in taking the final spot on the victory podium after a series of consistent finishes landed them in third.

Sophomore skipper Elena VanDenberg and freshman crew Meg Gerli rounded out Stanford’s entrants with a steady fifth-place showing. VanDenberg and Gerli were virtually tied with Sly and Obel for much of the regatta, but a late charge by Santa Barbara’s Olivia Godfrey prevented an even stronger sweep by the Cardinal.

Stanford was by far the most youthful team at this event, and the success by many young skippers across different competitions bodes quite well for the team going forward.


Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

]> 0 Stanford Sailing Stanford Sailing at the Stanford University Rowing and Sailing Center in Redwood Shores, CA on April 2, 2015
Sailing underclassmen dazzle early in season Tue, 13 Oct 2015 07:51:25 +0000 Stanford sailing has seen its youth shine in many events across its first three weeks of competition.


Stanford sailing continues to be strong on the water, with sophomore Luke Muller (above) capturing his second-straight conference title at the PCCSC singlehanded championships. (KRISTEN STIPANOV/The Stanford Daily)

Underclassmen impressed for the Cardinal in the PCCSC conference singlehanded championships, dominating both the men’s and women’s events and securing three spots at singlehanded nationals, held Nov. 6–8 in Norfolk, Virginia. Sophomore Luke Muller led the charge in the men’s division, riding six wins in 16 races to best a decent late challenge from Cal’s Richard Didham and capture the conference title for his second straight year.

Like in 2014, Muller led the regatta from the first race to the last, a testament to the consistency and talent that should land him in contention for the national men’s singlehanded title for years to come.

In the women’s event, sophomore Haley Fox and freshman Olivia Gugliemini grabbed the top two positions to reach nationals for the first time each. Fox and Gugliemini cemented their victory with one-two finishes in each of their final four races, opening up a large lead over their competition in the seven-boat event.

More strong performances against other PCCSC teams came in the doublehanded Trojan Women’s Invite. Freshman skipper Cassie Obel and her crew sophomore Haley Fox were narrowly edged into second in the event after UCSB’s Ginger Luckey took first in the final five races, while sophomore skipper Elena VandenBerg and her crew, Gugliemini, finished just 7 points below in fourth.

The Cardinal’s women’s team had a bit of a harder time in the Navy Fall Women’s Interconference, finishing in seventh place. Nevertheless VandenBerg (this time sailing as a crew) and freshman skipper Maria El-Khazindar did acquit themselves nicely with a tiebreaker victory in the regatta’s Division B.

Stanford’s excess of young but talented female skippers should put them in contention for the women’s title in each of the next four years, and early indications suggest that they have the potential to take home the Cardinal’s first doublehanded national championship in program history.

Stanford hasn’t achieved quite the same level of success in coed divisions yet, but many of its results have been strong, considering the infrequent use of senior skippers Antoine Screve and Axel Sly and the comparatively late start to Stanford’s season. Skippers sophomore Will La Dow and freshman Russell Clarida, along with crews senior Yuki Yoshiyasu and freshman Kathryn Booker, managed a seventh-place performance at the Hood Trophy regatta on Sept. 26–27, besting young squads from top-ranked programs like Yale and Fordham.

Stanford will look to continue to tune its performance across the country until its fall season wraps up in early November.

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

]> 0 SPO.101315.lukemuller
Stanford sailing seeks strong start in individual events Thu, 24 Sep 2015 06:56:36 +0000 Stanford sailing is set to kick off its 2015-16 season with a number of familiar obstacles in front of it.

As in most years, the team faces the daunting challenge of replacing some of the best talent in the country. New names will have to step up in order to fill the shoes of skippers like Kieran Chung and Hans Henken and crews like Haley Kirk.

Also like in other years, the Cardinal will have to fight their geographic disadvantage. College sailing remains an East Coast-dominated sport, and Stanford will likely get fewer chances to race against top-tier competition than some other schools in the country.

Yet even though the Cardinal may not have magically dodged the barriers in their path, there is plenty of reason to be optimistic about the team’s chances of reaching its perpetual goal of bringing home an elusive national title to The Farm.

For one, Stanford is still probably the best-placed program in the country to qualify for these championship events. The team astoundingly hasn’t fallen from the top spot in the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference since 2005, and there’s little to suggest any massive upheaval is presently in the works.

Similarly, the athletes returning to Redwood City this season appear as prepared as ever to lead the team to impressive accomplishments. Stanford coach John Vandemoer has continually brought top classes to The Farm, and many of the team’s younger members have already begun making an impact.

Much, of course, will need to happen for any big dreams to be realized. But with five seniors on the team’s roster and the major national championships – women’s fleet racing, coed fleet racing and team racing – set to take place in San Diego, this year may present a prime opportunity for the team to build upon its status as one of the top programs in the country.

The season technically started last weekend, with three boats competing at the Hatch Brown trophy on the Charles River in Boston, Massachusetts. The team came in seventh out of 18, anchored by a strong Division C performance from junior Lily Katz that landed her just two points off the lead.

The most important races kick off in a few days, however, beginning with the men’s and women’s conference singlehanded championships. These determine which boats get to represent the school at the national singlehanded championships in Virginia this November.

Sophomore Luke Muller won the men’s event as a freshman last year and will likely look to repeat his success in Long Beach this weekend. Meanwhile, sophomore Haley Fox should hope to edge her way into qualification after landing just outside the top two in 2014.

These events are not “team” events, and victory is typically more of an individual honor than a reflection on the program at large. Still, an impressive showing by Stanford’s skippers could allow the Cardinal to demonstrate their depth and set the tone for races to come.

The team has a long way to go before it can even begin thinking about its major national championship qualification campaign next April. In the meantime, however, sailing should continue to quietly impress and put itself in a good position to make headlines this spring.

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

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Women’s sailing wins conference champs, nationals on the horizon Fri, 01 May 2015 09:30:39 +0000 Despite starting the season outside of the top 10 in the Sailing World Poll, the Stanford sailing team has staged a strong comeback throughout this year, most recently jumping to fifth in the rankings after a successful spring season.

“The biggest difference between the fall and the spring was just execution down the stretch at regattas and some maturity from our younger guys,” sophomore crew J.P. Cannistraro said.


Despite losing 11 seniors last season, the Cardinal has had an impressive season. Despite starting off outside the top 10, the team is now ranked as fifth in the nation and looks to leave its mark during the Spring National Championships. (GANI PINERO/

The Cardinal graduated 11 seniors last season and eight new freshmen came in to replace them. The women’s team in particular graduated 100 percent of their starting players last year.

“We had some sophomores that needed to step up right away and they really did,” head coach John Vandemoer said.

Because there was such a big incoming class this year, there was more switching around between skipper and crew combinations in the fall, explained freshman crew Kennedy Placek. Now that the individual teams are more settled in, the team as a whole has been able to progress more quickly.

Although the team has made progress in the polls, the sailors still try to not let the World Sailing rankings get to their heads.

“If you’re at the bottom or if you’re at the top you really have to take it with a grain of salt,” said senior skipper and team captain Kieran Chung.

Chung explained that because sailing is such an open-field sport, it’s hard to rely just on the rankings. If you aren’t on the favored side of the starting line or you don’t hit the right wind shift, then it doesn’t matter what your team is ranked.

But being one of the best teams in the country isn’t easy for the Cardinal for a number of reasons.

Almost every weekend, the team has to travel to a sailing regatta on the east coast, and dealing with a three-hour time change can be tough. But the team makes it work. The coaches stagger who is racing when to make sure that the athletes are not flying to the East Coast on back-to-back weekends.

“We are actually giving our players more time off than the East Coast teams are,” explained Vandemoer.

On the East Coast, the best sailors sail every weekend without a break and that is not the case at Stanford.

Also, practicing for sailing is very different than practicing for other sports. For example, most basketball teams have at least 10 players, so in practice they can scrimmage five on five. When the sailing team travels to fleet races there are 18 boats on the line.

“We don’t have 18 boats ever on the line at practice,” Cannistraro said.

It’s also impossible to know what conditions the team will be dealing with at any given regatta.

“It keeps you on your toes; it keeps you thinking all the time,” Cannistraro added. “You have to be ready for anything.”

The women’s sailing team competed in its conference championships on April 19, finishing first out of 12 teams, earning its ticket to nationals at the end of May. The Stanford team finished with 34 points, 36 points better than second-place UC Santa Barbara.

Sophomore skipper Maeve White explained that at their conference championships, they were focusing on not sailing down to the level of the fleet.

“It’s really easy to just sail down to their level and get trapped in the dumb stuff that they might do,” White said.

The co-ed team hopes to earn its trip to the national championship as well this weekend. The conference championship is taking place this weekend at Stanford’s boathouse in Redwood City. Fleet racing will be held on Friday and Saturday with the Carter Ford Team Race Conference Championship finishing off the weekend on Sunday.

But the competition will be a little stiffer this weekend than it was for the women’s team in Santa Barbra.

“For the co-ed side I think the fleet is better,” Vandemoer said.

But he hopes the team racing portion on Sunday will be an easy win for the Cardinal. Vandemoer wants the team to focus on sailing away from the other boats, and rely on speed and boat handling to win races.

However, the Stanford team is already looking past this weekend at bigger regattas coming up soon, namely the Spring National Championships hosted by New York Yacht Club from May 25 – June 4.

In sailing, there are six national championships: three in the fall and three in the spring. The team with the best total at the end of the year wins the overall trophy. The Spring National Championships will conclude this package.

“We really have a chance to win the final trophy,” Vandemoer said. “We are hoping that will be a big win for us at the end of the season.”

Contact Laura Stickells at lauraczs ‘at’

]> 0 Stanford Sailing fadsfaifja
Sailing team poised to impress at championships Thu, 09 Apr 2015 07:17:29 +0000 Stanford sailing is supposed to be in a rebuilding year. The Cardinal graduated one of the top collegiate recruiting classes of all time at the end of last season, and was predicted to drop considerably from the No. 1 ranking it earned during the 2013-14 season in the face of strong competition from a number of East Coast programs.

The fall was expected to be so precipitous that Stanford was ranked outside the top 10 in Sailing World Magazine’s first set of national rankings for the season, the first time that that had occurred in recent memory.

Despite losing a number of key team members to graduation, the Stanford sailing team is poised to produce solid results with Team Race Nationals, Coed Nationals and Women’s Nationals still to come.

Despite losing a number of key team members to graduation, the Stanford sailing team is poised to produce solid results with Team Race Nationals, Coed Nationals and Women’s Nationals still to come. (KRISTEN STIPANOV/The Stanford Daily)

These lowered external expectations certainly did not impact the high standards of the Stanford sailing team, however. After a strong fall season, the Cardinal are back up to No. 5 and are now ranked No. 3 in the team race standings, an impressive mark for a team that just lost many of its starting skippers.

Stanford earned high finishes at both of the national singlehanded championships as well, with senior Sally Mace placing sixth in the women’s division and freshman Luke Muller just barely getting edged into second in the men’s division last November. Muller is one of the top singlehanded sailors in the country at any level, and should be a force for the Cardinal for years to come.

The most important championship regattas, namely the Team Race Nationals, Coed Nationals and Women’s Nationals, are still to come, however. These events will take place in late May and early June, and Stanford will spend most of the time between now and then practicing and qualifying for these ultra competitive events.

These championship regattas are differentiated from other title-carrying events by the types of boats in which the contestants compete. All of the remaining events take place in two-person dinghies. The exact boat types and schematics vary from venue to venue, but all of them have two primary sails, one operated by the boat’s “skipper”, or driver, and the other operated by its “crew.”

The team race event also features a format relatively unique to sailing, which stresses both offensive and defensive sailing skills. While the coed nationals and women’s nationals are relatively analogous to a track race in which contestants from one school face off with contestants from all the others, a team race is more like a direct dual between two different programs, each fielding three boats per race. Contestants can help their side in these events either by breaking out to large leads or by knocking back their opponents so that their teammates can build advantages of their own.

In order to qualify for these all-country regattas, Stanford first must finish near the top of its conference, the PCCSC. Fortunately, the Cardinal are well-positioned to dominate in this division. Stanford hasn’t slipped in the conference championships since 2009, and the team has looked a cut above the competition so far this season.

UC Santa Barbara and Hawaii have made things interesting in phases, but both schools lack the Cardinal’s consistency and depth. In a team race tune-up that the Cardinal hosted in late February, neither Santa Barbara nor Hawaii could win a single race against either Stanford’s A or B team. The Cardinal’s skippers rolled to a 1-2 finish in the event, a strong performance against some of the conference’s top talent.

East Coast competitors offer a whole other caliber of competition, however. Many of the sailors at these schools expect to go on to Olympic campaigns and world championships after they graduate.

Early indications have shown the Cardinal can hang with even the best of these programs, although the most important tests are still to come. Stanford’s sailors have to spend hours on planes in order to face off against these top-level opponents, an unfortunate geographic disadvantage over many of the other programs that have quality competition a short drive away.

This weekend, however, the Cardinal get to stay close to home. Stanford will sail against a number of conference opponents as it hosts the Cardinal Invite and Bryson Women’s regattas. Pride is mainly on the line this weekend, although the event will also prove a key chance to practice against the competitors it will have to face in the conference championships in early May.

Look to see the Cardinal at the Stanford Sailing Center in Redwood City this Saturday and Sunday as they continue their campaign to earn their first major national championship.

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

]> 0 SPO.040915.sailing Despite losing a number of key team members to graduation, the Stanford sailing team is poised to produce solid results with Team Race Nationals, Coed Nationals and Women’s Nationals still to come.
Stanford graduate Scutt sets eyes on Olympics Thu, 04 Dec 2014 05:20:57 +0000 Sailor Helena Scutt ’14 was born an aspiring Olympian. Ever since her earliest years, she has always dreamed of having the chance to represent her country in the world’s greatest sporting competition.

“When I was young, I really wanted to go to the Olympics for soccer. I had a book about the Games, and I must have read it all, cover to cover, twenty times.”

Plenty has changed since Scutt’s childhood. Many obstacles have temporarily derailed her, and she even underwent a change of primary sports in high school. But the British-born Washingtonian has risen above the challenges and continuously pursued her early fantasy.

Just under two years before the world’s top competitors head to Rio de Janeiro to compete in the 2016 Olympic Games, Scutt is finally well-situated to achieve it. She and teammate Paris Henken have fought their way through many challenges to become America’s top-rated team in their class. Now, the remarkable duo is out to prove that they are the best in the world.

A champion from the start

Scutt has not always been an incredible sailor, but she has always been a top-notch athlete. As she grew up just outside of Seattle, she spent her time becoming a competitive soccer player before taking her talents offshore and beginning to compete on the water.

“I was obsessed with soccer,” said Scutt. “I was on the travel team and all that, but I eventually burnt out. My dad put me in sailing camps and I actually remember dreading them. He would ask ‘what do you think about sailing next summer,’ and I always thought ‘oh no.’ But once I truly started it, I loved it.”

It did not take long for Scutt to become proficient at this new sport. After learning the ropes in classes taught by a local nonprofit, she began to sail 29ers — an extremely fast, high-performance boat — at Seattle Yacht Club. She focused on becoming a crew, a position which required her to master flying two of the boat’s three sails and to operate a trapeze that suspends its user over the water to counteract the rotational force put on the boat by the wind. Scutt was a natural. By her senior year of high school, she had been named to the U.S. Olympic Development Team, and Stanford recruited her as part of what is considered by some to be the top collegiate sailing recruiting class of all time.

Helena Scutt (right)

Born in the U.K. but raised in Washington state, Stanford sailor Helena Scutt (right) was a talented soccer player before she turned her focus to the water. A graduate student, Scutt is pursuing a master’s degree and a berth in the 2016 Olympic Games, set to be held in Rio de Janeiro. (JOHN TODD/

College sailing presented a new set of challenges for Scutt.

“I had a lot to learn,” she admitted. “Even though I was coming in with quite a bit of experience, college sailing boats are very different from the 29er. Fortunately, the crew in the 29er is a very active and important role, and all the skills translated very well.”

It certainly did not take long for Scutt to rise to the top in this new level of competition. At the end of her freshman year, she was voted captain by her teammates, a position that she would hold for two years before voluntarily stepping aside to open the opportunity to others. She elevated her abilities along with her highly touted classmates, and before long she was frequently competing in national championship regattas.

“My favorite experience was when we had nationals in Florida during my junior year,” Scutt recalled. “I sailed with [my classmate] Oliver Toole, and we won close to half the races we raced. It was really cool to see our hard work pay off.”

Scutt experienced an unfortunate setback at the beginning of her senior year when she was hit by another boat at high speed while racing at a world championship regatta. She suffered a spinal fracture, broken ribs and  internal bleeding in her kidneys. Instead of using the horrific accident as an excuse to slow down, however, Scutt redoubled her efforts. She made a miraculous recovery, and returned in plenty of time to help Stanford to third and fourth place finishes in the two co-ed national championship regattas earlier this year.

“The [injury] only increased my desire to continue sailing,” said Scutt. “Everything can change in an instant, so you better be doing what you love and living what you love.”

Living what she loves

Even as she excelled in the slower, less technical boats utilized in the collegiate ranks, Scutt did not forget her love for high-performance racing. When 49er FX was named as a woman’s Olympic class for Rio de Janeiro — the first time that a high performance woman’s boat has featured in the Games — Scutt jumped at the opportunity.

“The Olympics weren’t so much on my mind during my freshman and sophomore years. When the 49er FX was chosen, I realized I am one of the best crews in the United States for this type of boat and decided to go for it.”

Scutt became particularly competitive when the U.S. Olympic coaches paired her with Paris Henken, a long-time acquaintance of hers who was still in high school at the time. Henken also had a good deal of experience racing high-performance skiffs, and it became immediately apparent that the pair had extremely good chemistry on the water.

Helena Scutt (above)

Scutt (above) has persevered through significant obstacles, including the transition from soccer and a horrific in-competition accident, to become one of the nation’s best young sailors. (NICK SALAZAR/The Stanford Daily)

“Our sailing styles really compliment each other,” said Scutt. “[Paris] sails a lot by feel, and I have a little bit more of a calculated approach. Those are our tendencies; when it comes together, it is really powerful.”

The team did not take long to start topping their domestic competition. Even as Scutt began to pursue a fifth-year master’s degree at Stanford and Henken became a freshman at the College of Charleston, they managed to hold off their foes and become the top-rated team in the United States.

Their biggest competition for this title thus far has come from a team led by, of all people, the Stanford sailing head coach’s wife. The teams have gotten along well, and have tried to use each other to get better in training sessions.

“She’s awesome. It has been really great to be training with her,” said Scutt.

Unlike many Olympic sports, however, being the top team in a particular country does not necessarily guarantee a chance to compete in the games. Only twenty different countries are given an opportunity to field a boat in the pair’s class, and teams must qualify with a top-level finish at either the 2015 or 2016 49er FX World Championships to secure their spot. This may be Scutt and Henken’s biggest obstacle, and one that will ultimately determine their success or failure in this quest.

Going for Gold

Scutt and Henken will put their academic careers on hold after this quarter in order to get as much practice time as possible. In order to better understand the conditions in the venues at which they will have to compete, they will travel to many different parts of the world to observe the wind and tidal patterns and improve their speed.

“I finish a final at 10 p.m., and I’ll be on an airplane [to Rio] by 7 a.m. the next day,” Scutt said.

After that, they will spend a month in Miami, followed by a tour to many parts of Europe and South America in order to compete in as many top-level events for their boat as possible. Raising funds to execute this vital campaign is another one of the greatest obstacles faced by the team, and they are counting on many generous donations to make it possible.

Scutt believes that the dream of competing in this historic event will keep her and Henken motivated. Now that her childhood goal is in reach, she is cautiously excited for what the future holds.

“[Getting the chance to compete in the Olympics would] be the biggest event of our lives so far,” said Scutt. “We want to make everyone [we] know proud. And, of course, above all, we want to make ourselves proud.”

If you’d like to support the Henken-Scutt Olympic campaign or follow their progress, please visit

Contact Andrew Mather at amather ‘at’

]> 0 Richartz_Scutt Helena Scutt (right) SPO.120314.wsailing-2 Helena Scutt (above)
The Big Sail Wed, 19 Nov 2014 20:24:58 +0000



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Stanford completes decade-long dominance in Big Sail Wed, 19 Nov 2014 07:31:52 +0000 With the Golden Gate Bridge and Alcatraz as the back drop enclosing the racecourse, the Stanford sailing team enjoyed its 10th consecutive Big Sail victory at the St. Francis Yacht Club in San Francisco on Tuesday . The competition, involving both alumni, young and old, and current varsity athletes, allows for older generations to relive the rivalry, while the younger sailors are able to compete with the rivalry fresh on their minds.

“It’s cool finally being able to participate in Big Sail. Most of the seniors have done it in past years and that leaves the underclassmen out so this is my first time at the event and it’s pretty cool and a special little memory for sure,” said senior Kieran Chung. “This is unique going head-to-head with a rival school so it kind of raises pressures a little bit.”

With the sounds of the Leland Stanford Junior Marching Band mingling with that of Cal’s Straw Hat Band in the background, the Golden Bears and Cardinal went head-to-head in match racing style in an annual race as part of Big Game week, an event that was made all the more entertaining for all Cardinal spectators when a Cal young alum sailor fell overboard in the middle of the race course while his boat was trailing.

Four divisions competed for each school in a best-of-three racing series around the Bay, with the Big Sail trophy waiting to be claimed back at the festively-decorated Yacht Club. Although collegiate sailors are typically accustomed to sailing in smaller, two-person boats, and usually race in team or fleet style as opposed to match racing, the teams used J-22’s, intermediate small keel boats, that provide for quick acceleration and allow for three to four sailors. The races started just seven minutes apart from each other, so generations of Cal and Stanford sailors crossed paths in a whirlwind as they battled to win their respective races.

Stanford sailing (center)

Stanford sailing (center) won its tenth consecutive Big Sail in San Francisco on Tuesday afternoon, defeating Cal at the St. Francis Yacht Club. (KRISTEN STIPANOV/The Stanford Daily)

The young alumni teams (39 years and younger) kicked off Big Sail first, with the masters (40-59 years) and grand masters (60+ years) following and the current varsity sailors finishing off the day. Despite imperfect wind conditions, with breezes blowing inconsistently throughout the early part of the day before picking up after the races had already concluded, the sun was shining and the temperatures were more than bearable from the umpire’s boat.

Although the Card took home the trophy with wins in the varsity and young alumni divisions, concluding another decade of Stanford dominance over Cal on the water, the Cal masters and grand masters held their own for the Golden Bears and officially ended Big Sail in a split. The stronger boats were evident from the start, as neither division made it to a third race and instead were able to sweep.

The Stanford varsity boat was comprised of all seniors, including co-captains Chung (trimmer) and Haley Kirk (pit), with skipper Hans Henken and bow Max Kohlman. Whereas the Cardinal compete on the east coast against the best crews in the nation, and only marginally prepares for the rivalry regatta, Cal fields a team that operates as the school’s second-oldest club sport. The advantage in experience in terms of training and competition for the Card was evident from the get-go, as Stanford was able to beat the Cal varsity boat handily in both races, appearing to move faster and tack crisper. Though both teams battled equally in the pre-start, vying for position and playing with fire by attempting to trap each other away from the start line, it was the Card that pulled ahead early on after the start and never looked back.

In the first race, Kirk explained that, “Hans [skipper] was steering the bow really well so we were able to get on top of them just based on where the wind was coming from. We just trimmed the sails a little more correctly and plowed over them.”

In the second varsity race, Cal’s skipper got aggressive with trying to hold Stanford out in the pre-start, but Stanford was able to get out from underneath Cal and avoid the hold-off. After the start, it appeared that Stanford was just the faster crew, and mid-way through the race, Cal was rounding the leeward mark at the bottom of the course as Stanford approached the windward mark on its way back to the finish line.

“About halfway through the start we made a small error that put us to the port side of [Cal] which gives them the starboard advantage and we just couldn’t really find our way over their bow,” Chung explained. “After the start, I’m not sure why they tacked off the line because they had us but they definitely made a small mistake that opened up an opportunity that we took and capitalized on.”

The Big Sail trophy, after being passed around, figuratively and metaphorically, since the 1940s, will remain at the Stanford boat house for another year. Now it’s up to the Stanford football team to ensure that the coveted Big Game Axe remains on the Farm as well.

Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’ 

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Sailing sweeps PCCSC Championships Tue, 06 May 2014 07:02:22 +0000 Stanford sailing, ranked first in the nation in co-ed fleet and team racing and fifth in women’s fleet, finished conference championships this past weekend with a first place finish in the team event, sweeping all nine races and qualifying for nationals in the team event in one month.

Stanford has finished first in the PCCSC Championships for all three sailing events, including the co-ed and female fleet events, in addition to team racing.


Top-ranked Stanford sailing qualified for nationals by sweeping all nine races in the PCCSC Championships. (SHIRLEY PEFLEY/

Fleet racing is what most would consider “traditional sailing,” with each sailor competing as an individual against 17 others to get through the course as quickly as possible.

“The goal [of team racing] is to work together to get in the best combination to win, so to do that we have a whole playbook. Let’s say I’m sailing and my teammate is behind, I can trap the competitor and let my teammate pass to get ahead and get into a better combination,” said senior Tally Buckstaff. “It really involves working together and talking and figuring out how to get our team in the best situation possible. So it’s very dynamic and you have to work well with your teammates, so that’s why it’s our favorite event.”

Team racing involved three Stanford boats, each with two sailors, going up against a group of three boats from its competitor. The goal is to get all three boats into the best sequence so that they all finish near the top. It boils down to using the rules and concepts of fleet racing in combination with coordinating and working with two other boats to maximize their score at the finish line.

“It’s kind of like chess but with an athletic component,” said senior Kelly Ortel. “It’s very tactical, but you’re also having to work hard and it can be physically exhausting. There’s a lot of inter-boat communication and making sure the boat handling is in sync with everything else that is happening. It can be stressful if you don’t trust your teammates but we’re at a good point where we are on the same page and we can trust each other to do our jobs.”

This year Stanford has an experienced roster with 11 seniors, six of which make up the core group of starters for team racing. At the start of their collegiate careers, Stanford was ranked just 16th in the nation and was not considered to be a viable team for nationals. Four years later, the current senior class has seen the program progress into the powerhouse it is today. The seniors now have a month to prepare for another shot at the national title, which the team missed out on last year.

The Card, however, are at a disadvantage heading into nationals. Since most other schools are finished with the academic year, they are able to dedicate all of their time on campus to sailing and don’t have to contend with finals the week of competition. In addition, the top sailing schools in the nation are all on the East Coast within driving distance of one another, and so are able to practice against the top competitors during the month-long drought of formal competition. Stanford, however, is isolated from those top schools because of its West Coast location.

“We’ve done really well in our regular season and we’ve pretty much won everything, but they are going to get better so we need to get better,” Buckstaff said.

While West Coast schools have historically not been as competitive in sailing as East Coast schools, Stanford’s budget allows it to travel to the East Coast regularly during the season to race against the top schools before nationals. This advantage creates a disparity between Stanford and other PCCSC schools that do not have the caliber of Stanford sailing.

“We are lucky in the sense that our second team is really, really good so the team that we’ll be practicing against could go and win a national championship in team racing so we can go up against those guys who are really good,” Buckstaff said.

Another disadvantage that Stanford faces in the next month is emulating race-day conditions. The West Coast is typically much windier than the nationals venue in Maryland, so East Coast schools have the advantage of practicing under more race-like conditions.

History has also proven to the Card that it is easy for the team to peak at the conference championships and then become complacent in the month preceding nationals. Thus, it will be imperative for Stanford to keep up its competitive spirit and maintain its current drive.

“The biggest challenge ahead of us right now is just staying motivated and on top of our game at practice to make practices as nationals-like at possible,” said Ortel.

ICSA National championships begin on May 27 and conclude on June 5 in Maryland.

Contact Ashley Westhem at awesthem ‘at’

]> 0 Scott Buckstaff, Kelly Ortel, Sally Mace, Molly McKinney hello
SPORTS BRIEFS: Jahn leads Pac-12 award winners in men’s soccer, Howard named Pac-12 Defensive and Freshman Player of the Week after career game and sailing caps fall season with a pair of wins. Wed, 14 Nov 2012 08:05:15 +0000 Jahn leads long list of Pac-12 award winners in men’s soccer.

With a hat trick against cross-Bay rival California last Friday and the Pac-12 Player of the Week award, senior forward Adam Jahn finished his collegiate soccer career in style. The El Macero, Calif., native’s goals helped Stanford to a 6-1 defeat of Berkeley in the final game of the season and its second victory over Cal this year. The performance also brought Jahn his second weekly honors, the first coming just two weeks ago on Oct. 30.

Senior Adam Jahn was named to the All-Pac-12 First Team on Tuesday, one of six Stanford players honored with an all-conference award. Jahn scored a career-high 13 goals (Stanford Daily File Photo).

When the Pac-12 awards were announced on Tuesday, six Stanford players were honored, with Jahn leading the list as a member of the All-Pac-12 first team. Named to the All-Pac-12 second team were senior Hunter Gorskie and freshman Aaron Kovar, with senior Dersu Abolfathi, junior J.J. Koval and sophomore Zach Batteer receiving honorable mention.

Jahn finished his career with 24 goals and 12 assists, while Gorskie led the Stanford defense to six clean sheets as the captain and central defender. Kovar, who also became just the second Cardinal player to win freshman of the year honors, scored three goals and had two assists out of the central midfield for Stanford.

Batteer broke out in his second year on the Farm with six goals, all coming in the last 10 matches of the year. And Abolfathi and Koval were both key cogs in the Cardinal midfield.

The season-ending win over Cal ensured Stanford finished the season with a winning record in both the Pac-12 conference (5-4-1) and overall (9-8-1), and was the Cardinal’s largest victory since a 6-0 result over Richmond in 2002. It was also the first hat trick for a Stanford player in 11 years, dating back to the three goals scored by Matt Janusz ’05 against Santa Clara in the second round of the NCAA tournament in 2001.

Freshman Howard named Pac-12 Defensive and Freshman Player of the Week after career game.

Stanford’s Brittany Howard was rewarded for her career effort in Stanford’s wins over Washington and Washington State with two conference honors on Monday, earning both the Pac-12 Defensive and Freshman Player of the Week awards.

The Los Altos, Calif., native had 22 kills and 43 digs in the two-game sweep of the Huskies and Cougars, including a career-high 31 digs in the four-set win over Washington that tied for the third most in a single match in school history and the most ever by a non-libero.

An outside hitter, Howard has been coming on strong in recent weeks as head coach John Dunning continues to rely heavily on the freshman core, with No. 1 Stanford currently on a 22-match winning streak and sitting atop the Pac-12 with a 24-2 record.

Sailing caps fall season with a pair of wins.

Stanford returned home from the Pacific Coast Collegiate Sailing Conference Championships in Santa Barbara, Calif., last weekend with first place in both the co-ed and dinghy competitions.

In the 21-team co-ed event, the Cardinal comfortably led the field with just 77 points, with the closest challenger, Long Beach State, with 124. The team’s score was split between 49 points for the A-Division and 28 for the B-Division. Meanwhile, in the 20-team dinghy competition, Stanford took first place with 14 points, ahead of second-place Hawaii (28) and third-place Long Beach State (38).

In Sailing World’s most recently released college rankings, Stanford’s co-ed team was placed seventh, and the women’s team was 15th.

The sailing teams will next be in action at the Rose Bowl Regatta in Long Beach over the first weekend of 2013.

]> 0 Adam Jahn Senior Adam Jahn was selected by the San Jose Earthquakes in the first round of Tuesday's MLS Draft. (Stanford Daily File Photo).
SPORTS BRIEFS: Wopat and Howard win Pac-12 honors, sailing third and sixth in ICSA Singlehanded Championships and men’s crew at Newport Autumn Rowing Festival. Wed, 07 Nov 2012 21:16:25 +0000 Wopat and Howard take weekly Pac-12 volleyball honors.

After hitting a stunning .700 in two Stanford victories over the weekend, junior middle blocker Carly Wopat was named Pac-12 Offensive Player of the Week. Freshman Brittany Howard was also selected as the freshman of the week, as the Cardinal solidified its No. 1 ranking and extended its winning streak to 20 matches.

In the road victories over Oregon State and Oregon, Wopat notched 22 kills and an impressive 13 total blocks<\p><\_><\p>nine against the then-No. 2 Ducks. She also improved her hitting percentage for the season to .405, which leads the Pac-12.

Outsider hitter Brittany Howard won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after helping her team to a sweep of the Oregon schools, extending Stanford’s winning streak to 20 games.

Howard also came up big for the Cardinal, posting a career-high 14 kills against the Beavers and chipping in 13 digs. Overall, the outside hitter finished the weekend with a .328 hitting percentage and 22 kills.

It was the fifth time this year a Stanford player has taken home the freshman of the week award, and the second time Wopat has taken home player of the week honors this season.

Sailing takes third and sixth in ICSA Singlehanded Championships.

Stanford’s sailing program earned its best finish at the ICSA Singlehanded Championships since 2006 with two men finishing inside the top six spots at last weekend’s regatta.

Sophomore Kieran Chung-Wolf finished third overall with 107 points, and junior Oliver Toole took sixth in the 18-person field at the U.S. Sailing Center in Long Beach, Calif.

Head coach John Vandemoer was particularly pleased with their performances given the quality of the field at the event this year.

“This was the deepest field I have ever seen at this regatta,” Vandemoer said. “Both Kieran and Oliver sailed extremely well and were in the battle from start to finish. Kieran ended up holding off last year’s champion for third, and Oliver beat last year’s runner-up for sixth and was very close to finishing fifth.

“To have both men in the top six is an amazing testament to our program’s depth and talent. Realizing that both Kieran and Oliver will be back next season makes it that much better.”

On the women’s side, junior McKenzie Wilson finished 13th and senior Rebecca King right behind in 14th.

Stanford will compete at the Pacific Coast Collegiate Conference Championships next weekend in the league’s dinghy competition in Santa Barbara, Calif.

Stanford men’s crew in action at Newport Autumn Rowing Festival.

The men’s varsity eight and frosh eight boats took to the water on Sunday at the Newport Autumn Rowing Festival in Newport Beach, Calif., with the frosh boat taking first place in its class and the varsity eight taking third.

Cal’s “A” entry won the varsity eight class, finishing the course in 13:11, with the Cardinal’s “A” team crossing the line just four seconds later. Stanford’s “B” entry took sixth in 13:49 and its “C” team 19th in 14:59.

“The focus of the Newport trip has always been on team. Being a good teammate and working together to put one another in the best position for success is paramount on this trip,” said Stanford head coach Craig Amerkhanian. “The racing went well with the varsity eight finishing just four seconds back of Cal. The frosh raced even with Cal also. All in all a strong team building experience for our young squad and a great chance to uphold one another on the road.”

Stanford will compete in the final race of the fall season next Sunday in the Head of the Lagoon event from Foster City, Calif.

]> 0 Brittany Howard Outsider hitter Brittany Howard won Pac-12 Freshman of the Week after helping her team to a sweep of the Oregon schools, extending Stanford's winning streak to 20 games (IAN GARCIA-DOTY/The Stanford Daily).
SPORTS BRIEF: Stanford sailing breezes past Cal 2-0 Wed, 17 Oct 2012 22:29:31 +0000 Competing at the St. Francis Yacht Club located between Alcatraz and the Golden Gate Bridge, the Stanford sailing defeated Cal 2-0 in the annual Big Sail on Tuesday.

“The Big Sail is a great tradition and it’s great for the alumni to come and watch both teams compete,” Stanford head coach John Vandemoer told “This was a big year for Stanford as our young alums snapped a skid to Cal with their first win since 2005.”

Winning two out of the three events that were competed, Stanford was led by Kevin Laube (skipper), Antonie Screve (tactician and main trimmer), Jack Ortel (jib and spinnaker trimmer), Katie Riklin (mid-bow) and McKenzie Wilson (bow).

“Our varsity was able to keep its winning streak alive,” continued Vandemoer. “There was some quality racing, which is a good testament to all the crews considering the big breeze.”

Next up for the Cardinal is the three-day Pacific Coast Collegiate Conference Championship in Long Beach, Calif., beginning on Oct. 19.

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Sports Briefs: Fencing schedule, Women’s crew wins, Sailing 16th at Danmark Trophy Tue, 02 Oct 2012 09:30:25 +0000 Women’s four wins Head of the Oklahoma

Stanford’s women’s four placed first at the Head of the Oklahoma with a time of 16:12.96 — a half second better than second-place Clemson but almost 15 seconds ahead  of third-place Oklahoma — before coming in a close second at the OG&E Night Sprints this weekend.

“It was a gutsy effort from stroke one that paid off,” women’s rowing head coach Yasmin Farooq told “We won’t be doing racing starts until our spring championship season, but it’s an awesome reminder of what’s ahead when we hit 2K season in March.”

The women’s eight also had a strong showing, finishing second out of 21 crews in the Head of the Oklahoma and later tying for second at the night event.


Sailing comes in 16th for Danmark Trophy

Stanford finished 16th at the Danmark Trophy over the weekend. (Stanford Daily File Photo)

The Cardinal sailing squad traveled to New London, Conn. for the Danmark Trophy over the weekend and finished 16th of 20 teams at the event.

Stanford’s 229 points — a far cry from first-place Brown’s 119 — were comprised of an 11th-place finish by sophomores Kevin Laube and Helena Scutt in the A-Division and a 20th-place finish by freshman Michael Dahl and junior Rebecca King in the B-Division.


Fencing releases schedule

On Monday, Stanford fencing announced its two-meet schedule, which will consist of the Western Invitational (Jan. 12) and the Midwest Invitational (Feb. 2-3).

With six of last year’s top 15 NCAA Championship finishers participating in those two meets, the Cardinal hopes to use them as preparation for March 9th’s NCAA Regionals. The 2012 NCAA Championships will take place from March 21-24.

]> 0 Sailing Stanford finished 16th at the Danmark Trophy over the weekend. (Stanford Daily File Photo)
Stanford sailing comes up just short at Rose Bowl Regatta Mon, 09 Jan 2012 09:30:45 +0000  

Despite a strong showing on the final day, Stanford’s sailing team finished in second place at the Rose Bowl Regatta over the weekend, ending the two-day event 11 points behind Navy.


Just seven points separated the second- and fifth-place finishers, and the Cardinal was hard-pressed to hold onto its position as St. Mary’s College of Maryland ended the regatta only five points behind Stanford, which dug itself an early hole against the Midshipmen on day one.


The Cardinal was four points down after day one and could not come back in the final day of racing, ending the seven total races with 72 combined points—Navy finished with 61.


St. Mary’s, Georgetown and the College of Charleston closed out the top five, and Stanford’s “A” Division team of Kieran Chung-Wolf and Yuri Namikawa finished with 29 points, second in the division after placing between sixth and ninth over the three races on Sunday. They finished in the top nine in all seven races.


The “B” Division team of Sally Mace and Haley Kirk finished with 43 points, fifth-best in the division after finishing from first to 11th through the five second-day races.


The Cardinal will return to the water on Feb. 11, when it will host the first of two regional regattas at Redwood Shores.

 – Miles Bennett-Smith

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Sailing recruit takes lead in championships Thu, 05 Aug 2010 07:23:03 +0000 With nine top-five finishes in 10 races, Stanford sailing recruit Mateo Vargas is currently in first place at the U.S. Youth Championships in Los Angeles with one day of racing left.

Vargas is at the top of the field of 27 in the Radial Division, having finished seventh or better in each race. His performances include a race victory and four second-place finishes over three days of sailing. Vargas moved into first in the standings after third and second place performances in the day’s two races, while prior leader Mitchell Kiss finished 11th and seventh.

Other Stanford recruits in the event include the 29er-Division team of Helena Scutt and Katy Cenname, in fifth place, and Laser-Division sailor Kevin Laube, in 10th place. Joining Vargas in the Radial Division are Molly McKinney and Sally Mace, currently in 22nd and 24th place, respectively.

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