Crewing: Good Living on the Wire

It’s a shame that many youth sailors shy away from crewing because of the lack of recognition that crews receive.

Briana Provancha, of San Diego, wrote to us with a complaint: There are no crews in Gary Jobson's All-Star Juniors. "Being on a trapeze is a liberating experience," says the 25-year-old 470 crew from San Diego. "It's arguably the most athletic skill required in our sport. I want other youth sailors to fall in love with crewing like I have. It's a shame that many youth sailors shy away from crewing because of the lack of recognition that crews receive." Simply put, she added, "I love what I do." What is it she does exactly? We asked. She shared.

“Picture this: It’s 20 to 30 knots, and the rumbling swells of the Mediterranean create a frothy, iridescent layer of mist over the water. Grabbing the trapeze disc, you leap out onto the side of the boat, feet planted on the one-inch rail. The immediate strength you feel at this moment, suspending all of your body weight as the water moves beneath you, is empowering. You clip in and the harness straps press into your back.

“Through the wire, you can feel the twist and bend of the mast. A puff hits and the rig loads up. You press for more speed by moving your shoulders and hips aggressively in unison. The boat accelerates, and the bow rhythmically chops through the water. Spray pelts your face, but you don’t really care because you’re flying.

“The breeze softens so you sneak a quick glance to check your jib trim then shift your focus to find the next puff, which looms ahead. In anticipation you roll your shoulders back to be as stiff as possible. You check over your shoulder to see how you’re going against a boat on your hip. Instinct tells you to ease the jibsheet just slightly. You’re absorbed in the feeling of acceleration. Then a splash of cool water hits your face and you’re back in the moment.”

Follow Provancha and skipper Anne Haeger on their path to Rio at www.teamHP470.com

Briana Provancha, Crew
Briana Provancha, Crew
"Spray pelts you in the face, but you don't really care because you're flying."Will Ricketson/US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider