ISAF Sailing World Championships 2014: USA Preview


Pictured: Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha, Women’s 470

US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider to Compete at ISAF Sailing World Championships

September 10, 2014

Santander, Spain – The best talent in the sailing world has gathered in Santander, Spain for the most significant regatta in advance of the 2016 Olympic Games. Combining the peak events for all ten Olympic sailing disciplines into one regatta, the ISAF Sailing World Championships in Santander is a flagship event for the sport, and one that only occurs once every four years. In Santander, over 1,250 sailors from 84 nations will compete, including 53 Americans and 29 members of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, the US national sailing team. Racing runs from September 12-21.

“For the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider, this is our peak competition for 2014,” said Josh Adams, Managing Director of US Olympic Sailing. “Every athlete in our Olympic program has been working hard toward this event for a long time, and has mapped out a 2014 schedule to conclude here with their top performance.” 

With half of the country berths for Rio 2016 set to be awarded at the conclusion of the 2014 ISAF Worlds, Adams noted that qualifying the country in as many classes as possible was an added focus. “There is definitely additional significance to this Worlds because of the Rio 2016 country qualification process,” said Adams. “Our goals as a team for this event are quite clear. We want to perform, and we want to qualify the country for the 2016 Olympic Games.”

In the two-person Women’s 470 class, Americans Annie Haeger (East Troy, Wisc.) and Briana Provancha (San Diego, Calif.) enter Santander hungry to reach the top. After a string of top-5 performances at ISAF Sailing World Cup events in Miami (USA), Palma de Mallorca (Spain) and Hyères (France), and a 4th at the Rio Olympic Test Event, the duo are considered to be strong contenders for a podium finish. “We took 3 weeks off after the Rio Test Event in August, and have been focused since our break on getting back into the swing of things,” said Provancha. Helm Annie Haeger noted that the process of making sure they are ready for a World Championship is different from what is required for any other event. “The main difference in how we prepare for something like this is on the mental side. There is a lot of emphasis on this regatta since it’s a peak event. Some feel added pressure, but we view the Worlds as another important stepping stone towards the Olympics.” Provancha also noted that the venue is ideal for world-class racing. “It is clear that the city put a lot of effort into this event, and for the athletes here that is pretty cool.”

On the men’s side, the 470 team of Stuart McNay (Providence, R.I.) and David Hughes (San Diego, Calif.) have been consistent finishers in the top-10 all year, and have both the speed and experience to perform well on this stage. The 2013 470 Worlds in La Rochelle, France was a career-best result for both athletes (6th overall), and they will look to improve on that in Santander. “We are absolutely looking forward to this event,” said McNay. “Santander features beautiful ocean conditions that are perfect for the 470. Because of the great weather here, we think that 90 percent of the results will be based on how well teams sail their boat, as opposed to other factors out of our control. It will be a high-quality regatta.” Hughes added that that the team felt fast, and were happy with how their speed-building efforts in all conditions this year had progressed in the highly technical 470 class. “We are not hoping for any one kind of condition, and will be happy to face a variety of weather during the event,” said Hughes.

Finn class athlete Caleb Paine (San Diego, Calif.), a previous ISAF Sailing World Cup series champion in the men’s heavyweight dinghy, said that his yearlong effort to prepare for Santander is right on schedule. “I’ve felt fast in the practice racing leading up to the Worlds,” said Paine, who with the help of the team’s technical staff has focused on refining his equipment to a high level. “I feel really good about my speed. I have a new boat and a new mast, and I’m excited to give it a shot.”

The US is also well represented in the one-person Laser and Laser Radial classes. Charlie Buckingham (Newport Beach, Calif.), the top American finisher at the last two Laser Worlds, said that even with a few days left until racing begins he is already in “race mode” both mentally and physically. “The Worlds is always the main focus of the year. I had a great 10-day training camp beforehand, which really helped me get comfortable,” said Buckingham. “You need to make sure your energy reserves are full before an event like this. My coach Mark Littlejohn and I are learning more about each other all the time, and are much more advanced as a team then we were a year ago.”

In the Laser Radial, Erika Reineke (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) is coming off a career-best performance at the Rio de Janeiro Olympic Test Event, where she finished an impressive 6th overall. The ISAF Youth World Champion is also no stranger to the adult-level Worlds, where she finished 8th in 2012 in her last appearance. After her strong showing in Rio, few would be surprised by an excellent showing by Reineke in Santander. Due to a recent injury, 2012 Olympian, Laser Radial World Champion and ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Paige Railey (Clearwater, Fla.) will not compete at this event.

American skiff sailors are here in force, and Brad Funk (Ft. Lauderdale, Fla.) and Trevor Burd (Marblehead, Mass.) are feeling confident after recently making the medal race during the Rio Test Event. “Brad and I have been together for a year now, and it’s going well,” said Burd. “It takes time to figure a person out and how they communicate. He’s got a great feel for the boat and how to make it go fast. It was a positive step to make the medal race in Rio at the Test Event, and get some close combat with the best guys.” The pair also narrowly won the US 49er Nationals in August over fellow US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider teammates Fred Strammer (Nokomis, Fla.) and Zach Brown (San Francisco, Calif.). Strammer and Brown were the top American finishers at the 2013 49er Worlds, representing the US in the gold fleet at that event. “We feel good and are racing better,” said Brown, whose team had been sidelined for part of 2014 due to injuries. “We’ve been working hard on boat handling in our recent training, and now are focused on the racecourse. This event is going to come down to execution.”

In the women’s 49erFX the top-ranked US boat of Kristen Lane (San Francisco, Calif.) and Maggie Shea (Chicago, Ill.) felt that their plan for making big improvements in 2014 was coming along nicely. “The training we did as a team in Long Bach, California is very relevant to this venue,” said Shea. “We’re happy we spent a bunch of time out there.” Lane noted that this would be a big test for the still-new team. “This regatta is an opportunity to get a benchmark for where we are. We feel like we’ve improved a lot since last December, when Maggie and I teamed up.” The US 49erFX fleet will also feature US Sailing Development Team athletes Paris Henken (Coronado, Calif.) and Helena Scutt (Kirkland, Wash.), the top US finishers at the European Championships in 2014. “Our main goal here is to qualify the USA and try to get into the top-10 countries overall,” said Scutt. “At the Europeans this year, and at other events, we’ve consistently been within the top 12 countries, so we are aiming to make a jump. We feel like we are on the cusp.”

In the Nacra 17, North American Champions and US National Champions Sarah Newberry (Miami Fla.) and John Casey (Miami, Fla.) feel that they have made significant strides since the 2013 Worlds. “We are feeling good, and vastly improved,” said Casey. “We feel like we are among the fastest boats, but have been working on improving our boat handling and staying clean around the course.” 

In the RS:X fleet, 2012 Olympian Farrah Hall (Annapolis, Md.) is a veteran competitor at this level, and has enjoyed a career-best year in 2014. “The [Spring] European racing season, centered around the World Cup events, was my main lead up to the Worlds,” said Hall. “This is the best I’ve felt before a World Championship since I’ve been campaigning. At this event, things can get tense, but it’s a great chance to test yourself against the best.” Another name to watch in the RS:X women’s fleet is Marion Lepert (Belmont, Calif.), who finished 4th at the 2013 ISAF Youth Worlds. In the men’s fleet, Carson Crain (Houston, Texas) and Jonathan Rudich (Clearwater, Fla.), who represented the US at the Rio Test Event, will race in Santander as well. 

Josh Adams will serve as US Team Leader for Santander 2014, and noted that American sailors here are excited to start racing. “The athletes are upbeat right now. We have been training in Santander for over a year in some cases. This is a beautiful venue that has been serving up fine sailing conditions, and it is a great environment for the highest level of competition. We will be looking at how our athletes peak on this stage, and at how we are progressing towards our ultimate goals in Rio de Janeiro two years from now.”


Pictured: Charlie Buckingham, Laser

Coaches supporting US athletes at the 2014 ISAF Worlds in Santander:

  • Charlie McKee, High Performance Director
  • Luther Carpenter, US Senior Olympic Coach, 49erFX
  • Brian Ledbetter, Finn
  • Mark Littlejohn, Laser and Laser Radial
  • Michael Gebhardt, RS:X
  • David Ullman, Women’s 470
  • Morgan Reeser, Men’s 470
  • Jonathan McKee, 49er
  • Ramon Oliden, Nacra 17

Santander 2014 Media Guide:

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RSVP Today for the Golden Spinnaker Regatta and Gala, September 27th: 

Come sail with the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider in Newport, Rhode Island at New York Yacht Club’s Harbour Court! Enjoy cocktails, dinner and an auction for items such as a VIP trip to the 2016 Olympic Games in Rio and Olympic flags signed by the 2016 Olympic and Paralympic Sailing Teams. – See more at:

About the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider

The US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider is managed by the United States Sailing Association (US Sailing), the national governing body for the sport of sailing and sailboat racing. The top boats in each Olympic and Paralympic class are selected annually to be members of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. US Sailing helps these elite athletes with with financial, logistical, coaching, technical, fitness, marketing and communications support. The title sponsor of the team is Sperry Top-Sider; other sponsors include Harken and Team McLube. Yale Cordage is a team supplier. The US Sailing Center Miami is an Olympic training site. Oakcliff Sailing and Clearwater Community Sailing Center are US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider training centers. Chubb Personal Insurance sponsors US Sailing’s National Team Tour, a nationwide presentation program for US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes.

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, including National Championships and the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. For more information, please visit

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Press contact: Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, US Sailing., +1 978 697 2384