“Measured, registered and ready to go,” reads the Team Haeger/Provancha Facebook page. The current leaders of the US Sailing Team 470 Olympic Trials, Annie Haeger and Briana Provancha have one more regatta to secure the berth over teammates Sydney Bolger and Carly Shevitz. That chance starts tomorrow, at the 470 European Championships in Palma de Mallorca, Spain.
Haeger and Provancha currently lead Bolger and Shevitz by two points in the Trials, the first half of which was the 470 World Championship in Argentina in February. During that regatta, much like in Palma last week, Bolger and Shevitz were nipping at the heels of their competition, at one point leading the American charge, only to finish 8 to Hager and Provancha’s 6. At the conclusion of Worlds, Bolger said, “We’ve put the pedal down, and we have no intention of letting up anytime soon.”
Through the quad so far, Haeger and Provancha have traded leads with Bolger and Shevitz throughout events, but almost every time Haeger and Provancha have prevailed. Both teams are strong internationally, which in the end is what will really matter in Rio, but their focus in Palma de Mallorca has to remain on the berth. Bolger and Shevitz will have to beat Haeger and Provancha in the overall results, and if one team makes it to the medal race and the other does not, it will be an automatic selection for the medal race team.
Both teams sailed in last week’s Trofeo Princess Sofia Regatta in Palma, Spain, ducking out of the competition two days early to recuperate and rest before Europeans. In the first two days of the Princess Sofia, Haeger and Provancha held a decisive lead over their countrywomen, ending their final competition day with a first and second overall before retiring from the regatta. While Haeger and Provancha are the favorite, it’s by a slim margin and there are no sure bets.
The 470 classes, both men and women, are two of the strongest the US Sailing Team Sperry has to offer for Rio 2016. Though McNay and Hughes have been sailing uncontested for the American spot, they’re still racking up significant performance milestones and have been consistently in the top of the international fleets for the past three years. This week’s regatta is their chance to defend their 2015 European title, which, if they succeed, will also be their third medal in 2016 (gold at the Sailing World Cup Miami in January, silver at the Trofeo Princess Sofia last week).
“In the 470, the Europeans is just as hard as the World Championship from a competitive standpoint, as all of the top teams are here,” said McNay in a team statement. “This is also typically a larger regatta than the Worlds, since so many teams are based in Europe.”
For McNay and Hughes, this event is another opportunity to prove their viability for a podium spot at the Olympics in August. “We have the ability to win here, and in Rio,” said McNay. “Though we are defending champions, the goal at the Europeans is to improve our overall regatta processes and put ourselves in position to perform our best any time we show up to race.”