Developing an Unbreakable Love for the Sport

Published on March 15th, 2016

After considerable success in 2015 with teammate Briana Provancha, Annie Haeger (left) was recognized as the US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year. But it was just a year earlier her childhood friend Stephanie Roble had won the same award. Annie’s acceptance speech offered a glimpse on how these two Midwest girls are toppling the sailing world…

For two years in a row, sailors from a little tiny pond in Wisconsin have won this prestigious award. People were joking when the award was announced: what’s in the water up there? Well, I’m here to tell you that there’s no secret, but just an amazing supportive environment that can only lead to success.

The atmosphere at little Lake Beulah – only 800 acres in size – provided us a platform to love sailing first as a lifestyle and then as a sport. In contrast to this beautiful club, which I am currently a member, LBYC (Lake Beulah Yacht Club) has one big room that combines the dining room, kitchen, and dance floor, plus Lake Beulah’s favorite room, the bar [chuckles].

There were no cooks but loving mothers and fathers making home cooked meals for youth nights, and cooked outs on Wednesday, and judging races on weekends. Learn to Sail classes are filled with laughing kids that can be found chasing greased up watermelons and practicing capsizing.

My drive at a young age was due to the countless local regattas and the desire to bring home the biggest trophy. I swear I am not competitive. For those of us in the ILYA (Inland Lake Yachting Association) who are developing into competitors, there needed to be a platform to continue to succeed. This is when MOST – the Midwest Opti Sailing Team – was created.

Out of the ten sailors on the team, we produced 15 All-Americans at the college level, six National Championship titles and most importantly, an everlasting love for the sport. The MOST team held a competitive atmosphere filled with love and encouragement.

The respect we held for our teammates, if they beat us fair-and-square, was not to get upset but to get them back next time. There is no jealousy but an amazing support system through parents, friends and coaches that brought success.

Perhaps the most important lesson I learned during that time was the importance of team work. Together as a team, the information sharing and being able to push each other with compassion and love helped to accelerate our learning.

My early development was a pathway to my future success. Morals and values instilled in me, sailing in the ILYA have morphed me into the sailor I am today. Let’s keep supporting our youth sailors not only through our words but also through our actions and help them develop an unbreakable love for the sport.

To watch the complete video of her acceptance speech…

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