Women’s 470 Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Team Selection Series To Be Decided in Palma



April 6, 2016

Palma de Mallorca, Spain – The second and final Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team selection event, the 470 Class European Championship (April 7-12), is set to begin on Thursday in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. Two strong US Sailing Team Sperry (national team) women’s boats are in contention for the right to represent the United States in Brazil this August, and the standings are tight heading into the determining regatta.

US Sailing Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Annie Haeger (East Troy, Wisc.) and teammate Briana Provancha (San Diego, Calif.) finished 6th overall at the first selection event, the 2016 470 World Championships (February 20-27) in Argentina, two spots ahead of U.S. 470 North American and National Champions Sydney Bolger (Long Beach, Calif.) and Carly Shevitz (Santa Barbara, Calif.). Bolger and Shevitz will need to beat Haeger and Provancha by two places or more in Palma to earn a place on Team USA.

Annie Haeger (left) and teammate Briana Provancha (right).
Annie Haeger (left) and Briana Provancha (right)

Haeger and Provancha have been the top-ranked U.S. Women’s 470 team since London 2012, and have consistently performed at the highest levels of international competition under the tutelage of coach Dave Ullman (Newport Beach, Calif.), a three-time 470 World Champion. The pair’s signature successes of the Rio 2016 Olympic cycle have come at the 2015 European Championships in Aarhus, Denmark, where they claimed bronze, and at the 2015 Rio Olympic Test Event in Rio de Janeiro, Brazil, where they won gold.

Haeger and Provancha’s impressive run of international success began at this same venue in Palma in 2013, when they won bronze at the Trofeo Princesa Sofia, their first podium result at a major event. “The fleet here at Europeans will be big, and the level will be very high,” said Provancha, a two-time medalist at the ISAF Youth World Championship. Haeger noted that sticking to their normal routine would be key to performing well over the next six days of racing. “We need to treat this like just another regatta, and rely on each other, as we always have,” said Haeger. “We’re confident in our ourselves, and in our strength as a team.”

WATCH: Annie Haeger & Briana Provancha (Uncharted Waters)

While this event may resemble other major 470 championship regattas, managing the pressure surrounding Rio 2016 selection will be key for the US Sailing Team Sperry athletes. “The Olympic selection series is an exciting time,” said Provancha. “Pressure is part of Olympic sports, but performing at the same level regardless of pressure is the goal. This will be another great test before the Olympics.” Haeger agreed, and said they had been planning for this for four years. “We embrace this environment, and if we can get past this, we’ll be even stronger as a team. We still have a lot to learn.”

SEE ALSO: Current Standings, U.S. Olympic Sailing Team Selection Series

Carly Shevitz (left) and Sydney Bolger (right)

Bolger and Shevitz have enjoyed a rapid improvement in their results since the middle of 2015. Their 8th place finish at the Worlds was a career-best, and Bolger described a recent run of strong racing as new phase of their campaign. “A big turning point for us was settling on a primary coach in the middle of 2015, (I420 World Champion and former 470 athlete) Michalis Mileos (Athens, Greece),” said Bolger, the 2012 Quantum Female U.S. College Sailor of the Year for Georgetown University. “Michalis helped us develop a training program that was optimized for our team’s specific needs, and we started improving rapidly. We were really able to start using our preexisting speed, which was good, in a racing setting. We are now keeping our heads ‘out of the boat’ more, while still going fast.”

SEE ALSO: McNay and Hughes (Men’s 470) Look to Defend European Title in Palma

Bolger said that they are excited to get started with the second Olympic selection event in Palma. “We have a lot of confidence in our abilities, and we know we can have a strong performance at the Europeans. We also feel that we’re a better team now than we were in February at the Worlds.” Shevitz said they know they have improved a great deal since coming together as a team, and are proud of the campaign they’ve undertaken together. “We’re going to go out and just have the best regatta we can,” said Shevitz. “We started this quad relatively late, since we only started full-time as a team after I graduated college in May 2014. We’ve been playing catch-up, but now we can compete with the best.”

The 470 Class European Championship will run from April 7-12 in Palma de Mallorca, Spain. All athletes selected by US Sailing for the Rio 2016 U.S. Olympic Sailing Team are subject to approval by the U.S. Olympic Committee (USOC).

Watch: Team Bolger/Shevitz Preparing for the U.S. Olympic Selection Series (Rising Tide)

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About the US Sailing Team Sperry

The US Sailing Team Sperry 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. US Sailing helps these elite athletes with financial, logistical, coaching, technical, fitness, marketing and communications support. The title sponsor of the team is Sperry; other sponsors include Gold-Level partner Sunbrella and Silver-Level partners Harken, Team McLube and Groupe Beneteau. 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 Training Centers. Chubb Personal Insurance and the Gowrie Group sponsors US Sailing’s National Team Tour, a nationwide presentation program for US Sailing Team Sperry athletes. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org/olympics

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. For more information, please visit www.ussailing.org

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Press Contact: Will Ricketson, Olympic Communications Manager, US Sailing. willricketson@ussailing.org, +1 (978) 697-2384.

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