by Dana Paxton
As the 470 World Championships commence in La Rochelle, France, among the fleet will be ISAF number one ranked team Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha. We caught up with the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider sailors as they prepared for the Worlds to talk about competition, travel, lucky charms and the 470.
Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha (USA) during the 470 European Championships 2013
You had a very full competition schedule this spring and early summer in Europe. How did you prepare over the winter and early spring?
Annie: Briana and I moved to Miami in September, 2013, to start training full time with Romain Bonnaud, US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider coach, at US Sailing Center and Miami Yacht Club. We worked hard sailing for an average of 15 days a month, dedicating ourselves to the gym and on the water. Our first event was the ISAF Miami World Cup in January where we finished fifth. Though we did not have the performance we were hoping for, it was great to get around other boats as we had been training by ourselves for almost three months!
Do you train full time or do you do anything else when you’re not training?
Briana: This year, our main objective was to get as much time in the boat as possible. With that goal, we definitely had a full-time training schedule. Last fall, I was a part of the Team USA career program that helped set me up with a part-time job as a sales associate at Cole Haan. This job was a great learning opportunity for me in terms of sales and allowed me to have a balanced lifestyle. Although, sailing was my first priority, having something else to focus on kept me fresh and motivated on the water.
Annie: When we are not training, I work at OCA Ventures, a venture capital firm based in Chicago. My work has been so gracious and extremely flexible with my intensive sailing schedule, and it provides a great outlet to keep me mentally stimulated. Briana and I are technically full time, and I am so thankful that my boss and associates are understanding of my time commitment to my sport.
In which regatta this past year did you have your best sailing?
Briana: This is so hard to answer. I think each regatta we sailed this spring brought its own challenges, but I am extremely proud of how Annie and I sailed during the Princess Sophia Trophy. I think we had our best and worst sailing at this regatta, and the comeback is what made this such a valuable takeaway for me.
We knew we weren't sailing to our potential after the first two days and we really came together as a team during the second half of the event under some tough circumstances. I cannot even put into words how important the last four days of this regatta was for our team and how much of an impact this had on the rest of our spring season and just my approach to 470 sailing in general. We actually ended up coming back from 18th to third, capturing our first ISAF World Cup medal!
The 470 is a very technical boat to sail. What advice would you give junior sailors about making the transition?
Annie: Be patient! Briana and I are still on such a steep learning curve even though the boat has been our main focus for 10 months now. Keep an organized notebook and an open mind. The boat is a blast, enjoy!
How many miles did you drive in Europe?
Annie: So far, we have traveled approximately 6,000 miles all throughout Europe. We have a team car that we have been trying our best to take care of, though we still have sand from Palma. The longest leg so far was traveling from Medemblik, the Netherlands to Formia, Italy. The drive was amazing, taking the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider all throughout the mountains of Switzerland and Italy. One of the only snags we ran into was entering a 30 kilometer long tunnel with limited amount of fuel… Thankfully we made it to a gas station, but we were extremely nervous watching the fuel gage dip below the red line for what it seemed like was an eternity. All of our trips so far have been uneventful so far, which we are extremely grateful for!
Do you travel with anyone else or by yourself?
Annie: It is only Briana and I on the open road. You would think after a while we would run out of things to talk about, but we are quite creative! During this past trip, Bri was doing her best to try to convert me into a country music fan
Favorite city you had a chance to explore?
Annie: Check out our Team Haeger/Provancha Facebook Page to see photos of our first European adventure! My personal favorite would have to be hiking in Formia, Italy. When we emerged from the woods we found ourselves at the top of sheer cliffs looking down at the beautiful aqua water. That same hike, we found a church that put us down closer to that water where we had great photo opps!
Do you have any lucky items you travel with or take onboard while racing?
Briana: Annie and I were given this painting from an old Spanish man in Palma and we have hung it up in our room at every regatta so far (photo of the painting). The painting has two birds on it, so we call them the 'good luck pajaros.'
Which town or city has the best food and did you find yourself going back to one place over and over?
Annie: I am 50% Italian, so I am totally biased, but Formia, Italy had the best food! Though we did not have one spot we kept returning to everywhere we tried was delicious. The town had fantastic seafood and how can you go wrong with Italian pizza??
Briana: I loved the food in Formia, Italy! The pasta was fantastic. It didn't matter where you went, everything was delicious!
What’s your schedule as you prepare for the Worlds?
Briana: We had three weeks before the regatta starts, so we had a lot of time to prepare and become familiar with the venue. Before that, I was home spending time with my family, doing some coaching at my local yacht club and, of course, preparing for our trip.
Annie: The regatta site is Romain’s home turf, so we are looking forward to getting some expert advice from him. Make sure to check out our blogs at teamhp470.com!