Haeger and Provancha win selection to Rio 2016
Published on April 10th, 2016
Palma de Mallorca, Spain (April 10, 2016) – Annie Haeger (East Troy, WI) and Briana Provancha (San Diego, CA), Women’s 470, have earned selection to the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team based on the results of the US Sailing Olympic Athlete Selection Series in the women’s two-person dinghy. Winners of the 2015 Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, Haeger and Provancha have been the top U.S. athletes in their class for the past three and a half years. This will be the first career Olympic Games appearance for both sailors.
Haeger said that while Rio 2016 qualification was a significant milestone, the journey will only intensify from here to the Games. “Step one is to qualify, step two is to keep the pedal down, and step three is to medal,” said Haeger. “We’re not going to stop here. We have so much work we can do.”
Haeger and Provancha have been dinghy teammates since 2008, and met at the 2007 ISAF Youth World Championship in Kingston, Canada, where both sailors medaled. After distinguished youth sailing careers, both attended Boston College in Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts, and formed the core of a highly successful women’s and co-ed sailing program from 2007-2012 under US Sailing National Coach of the Year Greg Wilkinson (Rockport, MA).
With Haeger and Provancha on the team, the B.C. Eagles won the Co-ed Intercollegiate Nationals (twice), the Team Race Nationals (twice), the Women’s Nationals (twice), the Sloop Nationals, the Match Racing Nationals, the Single-handed Nationals (three times, all by Haeger), Quantum Female College Sailor of the Year (Haeger), and three ICSA Fowle Trophies, awarded to the best overall college sailing team in the nation.
During their collegiate careers, Haeger and Provancha began to train in the 470, the two-person Olympic dinghy. Despite considerable success in the one-person Laser Radial as a youth athlete, Haeger opted to pursue a path towards the Olympic Games in a double-handed boat with Provancha, a Youth World Champion, by her side.
The pair graduated from B.C. shortly before the London 2012 Olympic Games, and embarked on a full-time campaign for Rio 2016 as part of the US Sailing Team Sperry (national team). They experienced success quickly, making the podium at their first major international event, the 2013 Trofeo Princesa Sofia in Spain. A year later, Haeger and Provancha joined up with full-time coach and three-time 470 World Champion Dave Ullman (Newport Beach, CA). Under Ullman’s guidance, the pair have medaled at top-level events around the world, including Sailing World Cup Hyères in France, The Delta Lloyd Regatta in The Netherlands, the 470 North Americans in the United States, and the 470 Europeans in Denmark.
Throughout their campaign for Rio, Haeger and Provancha have been notable for their consistency, and have earned top-ten finishes at the majority of their major regattas. This includes two top-ten results at the 470 World Championship within the last three years. The team’s signature win to date was their gold-medal performance at the 2015 Rio Test Event. On the same racecourse that will be used this coming summer, Haeger and Provancha came from behind in the medal race to beat the gold and silver medal-winning Women’s 470 teams from London 2012 Olympics.
In early 2016, Haeger was named US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year, given annually to the top female sailor in the United States. This honor was given in recognition of her outstanding Olympic-class racing record with Provancha in 2015.
US Sailing’s Rio 2016 Selection Series for the Women’s 470 consisted of two high-level international events. The first was the 470 World Championship in San Isidro (February 20-17, 2016), Argentina, in late February 2016. After trailing US Sailing Team Sperry teammates Sydney Bolger (Long Beach, CA) and Carly Shevitz (Santa Barbara, CA) for much of the regatta, Haeger and Provancha rallied and both American teams qualified for the medal race. Haeger and Provancha were able to rely on their extensive experience in pressurized scenarios, and submitted a strong medal race in Argentina.
Heading into the second selection event, the 470 Class European Championship (April 7-12) in Palma de Mallorca, Spain, Haeger and Provancha held a two-point lead in the selection series. Bolger and Shevitz needed to beat Haeger and Provancha by two positions in the regatta to qualify for Team USA. However, strong racing by Haeger and Provancha early in the event produced a 28-point lead over their U.S. teammates after five qualifying-round races. A slower start to the regatta for Bolger and Shevitz, in addition to a protest and disqualification in Race 4 (stemming from a close two-boat maneuver with Haeger and Provancha near a course mark) dropped the Southern California pair to 31st overall, and into silver fleet. This sealed Olympic Team selection for Haeger and Provancha.
With the opening races of the Rio 2016 Olympic Games only a few months away, there is little time for Haeger and Provancha to savor the milestone of earning a place on Team USA. “We hope to enter Rio as a team to beat,” said Provancha. “This is just step one. We want to put USA on the podium. We want to be singing the “Star Spangled Banner” on that day in August.”
About US Sailing
The United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for sailing, provides leadership, integrity, and growth for the sport in the United States. Founded in 1897 and headquartered in Portsmouth, Rhode Island, US Sailing is a 501(c) (3) non-profit organization. US Sailing offers training and education programs for instructors and race officials, supports a wide range of sailing organizations and communities, issues offshore rating certificates, and provides administration and oversight of competitive sailing across the country. This includes National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry, the national team for top boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics
Source: Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, US Sailing.