Briana Provancha along with her partner Annie Haeger will sail for Team USA in the Women’s 470 event at the 2016 Rio Olympic Games. The 470 has been an International Sailing Federation International Class since 1976. Briana captured her first title at the ISAF Youth World Champion in 2007. Standing on the podium that night in Canada ignited Briana’s Olympic dream. In 2015, Briana and Annie won gold in the Rio test event. Since then the two have frequently trained in Rio to get a feel for the course. We were able to catch up with Brianna before her Olympic race to learn a little bit about the sport, her involvement with Athlete Career and Education Program, and what she is looking forward to next.
Briana, tell us a little bit about the Women’s 470 and sailing as an Olympic sport?
The 470 is a two-person dinghy that is 4.7 meters long, has a trapeze and symmetrical spinnaker. The 470 is a physically demanding boat that requires precision teamwork and is technically challenging.
How did you initially learn to sail?
When I was growing up, we would go to the yacht club on Sundays with some family friends and sail. There was just something about being in the water that I loved. One weekend when I was eight, a yacht club member needed a crew for a bay race. He asked me back every weekend for the rest of the summer!
Your video “Uncharted Waters” portrays this sport is very demanding and challenging. What are some of the hardest challenges?
Sailing happens on a field that is constantly changing. To compare it, soccer fields are always the same no matter where they are. In sailing, the wind, the current and the wave state are all different on any given day. We are always adapting.
Sailing in an expensive sport. What are some of the most expensive aspects of sailing?
Sailing is an extremely expensive sport! One boat costs $22,000. Racing boats are challenging to transport and are only good for a year and a half before they become slow. In order to sail in the World Cup Circuit, we have to have four boats, one on each major continent.
In your lead up to Rio, you worked part-time in the ACE program. What was it like balancing a job with training?
Balancing a remote flexible job and a sport was rewarding, but definitely challenging. My training schedule is determined on day-to-day and wind dependent basis. I’m very glad I took on the challenge because I learned so much and got to work with an amazing company.
How was working with a career coach in the ACE program valuable to you?
This was an invaluable experience for me! Definitely, one of the best parts of the program. It gave me so much confidence in the application process and really set me up for success.
Good teamwork is crucial, what strategies do you use to work well with your teammate?
I am super lucky to have Annie Haeger as my teammate. Teamwork is a tremendous strength of our partnership and we work hard to build confidence in each other. I have the upmost respect for Annie and think so highly of her as a sailor and competitor. That makes it easy to trust and give her my all while we sail. Teamwork is most important when things are going wrong. So in those tough moments, we really support each other.
You have been spending quite a bit of time training in Rio. What has that been like and what advantages will it give you going into the games?
So far we have made eight trips to sail in Rio over two years. Guanabara Bay is known for it’s crazy current. We spend time there to become familiar with the wind and current patterns. We even mapped our training periods to match the tide cycle during the Olympics. We are confident this plan will help us in August.
Any concerns about Rio?
We are embracing the Rio experience and making Rio our second home. We even took a Samba class! The topography and landmarks we see from the race course are unlike anything you’ve ever seen before. It is truly an amazing place.
What are you looking forward to most in Rio?
I am most looking forward to the Opening Ceremony. I have dreamt about what it would be like walking into that stadium since I was little. It will be a really special moment for me and my family.
How can fans follow you in Rio?
During the Olympics, you can follow us via the US Sailing Team Twitter @USSailingTeam or website www.ussailing.org/olympics. Leading up to the Olympics, you can also follow our personal Facebook page: Team Haeger Provancha or twitter/instagram @teamhp470.
At Adecco we get fired up about connecting people with amazing opportunities. That’s why we are a proud sponsor of the USOC Athlete Career and Education (ACE) Program. Right now, 119 Team USA athletes participating in the ACE program are in Rio preparing to compete in the Olympic and Paralympic Games. Over the last four years, these athletes have dedicated themselves to representing the U.S. on the world’s largest stage. Not only that, but many of them have held part-time jobs to pay the bills and gain valuable career experience.
Over the next two months we will highlight ACE’s athletes competing in Rio as well as the benefits and challenges of what it is like to train full-time for a dream while working part-time.