Carmen and Emma both started learning to sail at age 9 at the Larchmont Yacht Club with the intention to become comfortable on the water. For three summers, they sailed and raced on the Long Island Sound in the Junior Sailing Association (JSA). In the fall of 2012, they began training and racing with LISOT to extend their training to the ‘off-season’ months. With coach Pepe Bettini and his team, they competed in various national and international Optimist events. Aging out of the Optimist class in 2015, Carmen and Emma transitioned into LISOT’s International 420s led by Steve Keen.

Being twins, naturally, they had to choose who would skipper and who would crew. Emma, ten pounds heavier and barely an inch taller, was the obvious choice to crew. Throughout the next three years, the twins continued to train and compete with LISOT. LISOT provided weekly training on the Western Long Island Sound against some of the top competition in the country and the world. In September 2018, Carmen and Emma transitioned into the 470 class and are now competing against the top 470 women in the world for a chance to race in the Tokyo 2020 Olympic Games. Outside of their accomplishments on the water, they are US Sailing’s 2018 Rolex Yachtswoman of the year winners, and finalists in 2017. If you still can’t tell them apart, Carmen wears a red hat and Emma a black one. Carmen is the skipper and Emma the crew. Emma is still about an inch taller and ten pounds heavier.


I get to sail with my best friend, my twin sister.

Carmen Cowles

Carmen Cowles is the skipper of The Cowles Twins. The way you can tell who she is off the water is that she wears the red hat. Born and raised in Larchmont, New York, she is two minutes older than her twin sister, Emma. Carmen, has a bubbly personality and loves learning. Languages and exploring new cultures are important to her as at home, she speaks French and Spanish with her family. Before sailing took precedence, she spent her summers in Belgium and Spain spending time with family. She also enjoyed skiing in the French Alps with her grandfather every year. As sailing success required a greater commitment, she also recognized how much more the sport had given her. Sailing taught her that organization is key, especially when toolboxes get bigger and heavier and what used to be missing a day of school turns into missing a week. Learning how to teach herself, either a lesson in school or a challenge on the race course, has made her realize how much she loves problem solving. Carmen is planning to attend Yale University in the fall of 2021 to study engineering and economics after deferring two years to campaign.


I love how people of all ages can enjoy the sport and can connect with their passion of being on the water.

Emma Cowles

Emma is the younger twin of the sisters by two minutes. She is the more reserved of the two and slightly taller (therefore slightly heavier and, of course, stronger). When not sailing, Emma loves to ski and travel to visit her family in Europe. To take her mind off of the stress during championships, she loves to listen to music. On the water you can tell her apart from her sister because she wears the black KO Sailing hat. The twins started the tradition of wearing red and black hats when they were in the Optimist class so coaches could tell them apart, and it stuck. Emma was raised in French and Spanish which has come in handy on the water in a few occasions. She can speak with her sister without anyone knowing what’s going on. Emma loves science and math and is planning on studying engineering and business at Yale University in the fall of 2021 after deferring two years.

%d bloggers like this: