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Keeping Up With Anna Tunnicliffe

Published on August 6th, 2013

Best known for her succes as an Olympic Gold Medalist, world class Laser Radial sailor world class women’s match racer, Anna Tunnicliffe is mixing it up in 2013 with a few new pursuits, like the 49er and … CrossFit. Here Dan Cooney, former Associate Executive Director of US Sailing, chats to Anna about her latest passion, CrossFit…and where it all fits with sailing.

DC: Anna, congratulations on finishing 9th in the CrossFit Games. You are arguably the 9th fittest woman on the planet. What does that result mean to you?

AT: Thanks Dan. It was an amazing experience. Our goal was to qualify for the Games and then we made a goal of top 15 once we were there, so to finish 9th was an amazing end to 9 months of hard work.

DC: Is there a lesson that you have learned from sailing at a world-class level that helped prepare you for the CrossFit Games?

AT: I think the biggest lesson was to just move on from event to event. No matter what the result was, it ultimately doesn’t matter until the end, so we just focused on the workout of the day (WOD) at hand and let the results sort themselves out. Also, we focused on having fun, definitely a lesson I learned from sailing!

DC: How about the other way around, beyond the obvious physical advantages that you bring to the 49er is, do you think there is a mental edge or mindset that influences your sailing?

AT: Besides the physical aspect, I think CrossFit has helped me push my pain limits and mental toughness. But mostly it allows me to stay mentally focused on long days.

DC: OK, consider this just a beer tent question — give me the sailor versus CrossFit stereotypes?

AT: Pass.

DC: Strong and smart. Ok, what’s harder — sailing a Laser naked for an ESPN photoshoot or walking 80 feet on your hands at the end of a full-on WOD?

AT: Well, one turns my brain upside down and the other turns everyone else’s upside down.

DC: So true. Will you try to get back to the CrossFit Games next year?

AT: We will see how training goes. I committed to working towards a Gold medal in Rio 2016 and this year was a planned light year for sailing. So that said, I will continue training hard in CrossFit, I will compete at the Opens, Regionals, and hopefully I qualify and then yes, I’ll go to the Games next year. But we will see, I would love to go back!

DC: For those of us just trying to get to the gym on a somewhat regular basis, can you give us some insight on how you stay focused and motivated. Is it ever hard for you to get to workouts? What does the self-talk sound like?

AT: The great thing about CrossFit is the community and the constantly varied factor. You go to an hour long class, and you build relationships, that eventually gives you the guilty feeling if you don’t attend. Also, you never really repeat anything, so every day is different. That’s how I love to go back day after day. But mid-WOD when things get hard, my self-talk goes something like, “It hurts for everyone, and the faster you go, the sooner it will be over.”

DC: Will you and Molly Vandemoer be gearing up for a full-on sailing schedule in 2013-2014?

AT: Yes, we will have a much busier schedule starting in December.

DC: I know you guys are still new to the boat and learning a lot, but what’s an area of strength (other than fitness) in the 49er right now?

>AT: I think our starts are quite good. We do a good job holding on the line and getting great lanes…it’s just shortly after that that we run into problems at this point.

DC: Finally, as a former sponsorship guy, I’m interested. Who are your main sailing sponsors right now?

AT: We are supported by The US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. We also have Carmeuse signed on again with us for another quad. They have been an amazing sponsor over the last two quads and we are so excited for them to be with the team once again. We are also looking for additional companies to join the team. Interview

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