Athlete Spotlight – Anna Weis

Give us a little background of your sailing experience? 

I started in the Opti following after my older brother. I loved being out on the water at an early age and made the most amazing friends that I’m still close with today. Sailing allowed me to travel and compete around the world at an early age, and I loved that aspect about it.

In highschool, I sailed lasers and at that time was when I really started working hard and saw my potential in the sport. This was when I really decided to pursue the Olympic dream and it seemed like something I could achieve with a lot of hard work. 

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What were some of the highlights of your youth sailing career in the radial? I attended two Youth Worlds in 2015 and 2016 where I was 7th and 8th respectively. I also won Women’s Singlehanded Nationals in 2016. I would say my 8th place finish at the 2016 Youth Worlds really gave me confidence to continue to pursue my Olympic sailing career. I was gutted after the event. Going into the last two races of a six day event, I was in a position to win the event. I made a mistake and got a black flag and it put me in 8th overall. Even though the final result wasn’t the best on paper, I deep down realized my potential and the fact that I really hated that feeling of losing.

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Going from the single-handed dinghy what was the transition like to the high performance Nacra 17? The transition is still ongoing! I’ve been sailing the Nacra for about a year now and I still find that I am transitioning. In the laser, all your thoughts and decisions are your own. Transitioning to sailing with someone else is a whole new world because now you need to put those thoughts into words and be part of a useful conversation.

As for speed of the boat and foiling,  Nacra sailing is extremely scary at times. Haha! Don’t get me wrong though, they are so much fun. It’s very rewarding when you crush a gnarly downwind. Especially in waves, I know Nacra sailing will probably never get less scary but I know the more work we put in the more comfortable we will get. There are so many aspects that are different that I’m still getting used to but there are also many skills from laser sailing that I found easier to translate over. At the end of the day slow boat or fast boat, sailing is still sailing!

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To get to the high-level in the sport takes a significant amount of personal sacrifice. After Europeans in Weymouth, UK last May you left the regatta because you were having issues with your grip grip, fast forward you and Riley won the qualifiers for the Olympics in Tokyo talk to us about sacrifice. 

Looking back on my life, I guess you could say I made a lot of “sacrifices” for sailing. I wouldn’t change any of it for the world however at the time, it was sometimes tough. I didn’t hang out with friends on the weekend. I missed prom, homecoming, and senior day. I ended up taking a leave of absence from University. Compared to a normal teenage life, one might say I missed out, but to me my life was sailing so I generally didn’t think twice about it.

I think of sacrifice as decisions, some bigger than others.

It’s like weighing out pros and cons. I did end up having to get surgery on my arms. It got to a point where I wouldn’t be able to sail unless I did have the procedure. We lost months of training but it was worth it. Coming back from surgery, however, we knew time was precious so we tried to take advantage of the time we had before the trials. Decisions and making sacrifices are scary because you never know if you’re going to make the right one. I always tell myself everything happens for a reason and it’s going to work out the way it’s supposed to. After giving up that time for surgery, we trained really hard and believed in our ability to qualify. It definitely wasn’t easy but it worked out for us. 

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You were on the rowing team at Boston University, I would assume you would’ve sailed in college, what’s that all about?

I sailed in college for about two semesters. I knew after college, I wanted to campaign in the Laser. Personally, I didn’t feel what I was learning in college sailing was translating to Olympic style sailing. I was also struggling to stay fit on top of school work and sailing practice. I know people disagree with me however, personally leaving sailing for rowing was something that I believed was the right decision for me, and it turned out to be true!

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Fitness and mental toughness is a huge part in being successful in sailing and I believed rowing would definitely improve my fitness but also my mental toughness. To this day, being able to walk on to the rowing team has been one of the most amazing opportunities and one the best decisions of my life. I’ve been able to translate so many lessons that I’ve learned from rowing over to my sailing. I owe so much to BU Rowing. Despite what so many people have been saying for years, you CAN make it to the Olympics without sailing in college! Many people doubted my decision but I’m glad I proved them wrong. 

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What are some things that you learned on a sports team outside of sailing?

 First off, I learned what it truly meant to be dedicated and committed even if you were having a bad day or weren’t feeling 100%, especially at 6am.

Something I will always remember, my coach would say “no matter what, just show up.”

I still to this day think about this because not every day will you feel ready to go and fully fired up but the act of showing up is better than not. Second, I learned what it meant to be a good teammate. I never got to appreciate the value of a team until I joined the rowing team. The team environment pushes you to give your best effort everyday because you know that’s what you’d expect out of your teammates in return. It’s a whole different level of respect that is something that I was lucky to experience and learn from. I don’t know where I would be and would not be the athlete I am today without rowing. 

How are you meeting your daily goals while under quarantine?

I’ve been focusing a lot on training and fitness during quarantine. It’s definitely different from a real gym but I’m making do with a bike and a couple of weights. I’ve also been taking part in US Sailing Team webinars daily with sailing experts talking about a whole variety of different topics. It’s been awesome to learn from so many amazing sailors. The main goal during this quarantine however is staying healthy and doing my part to flatten the curve. Quarantine has brought a lot of opportunity to better myself in a way I don’t usually get to, especially when I’m on the water all the time. It’s been nice and refreshing to focus on different things, but I do miss sailing A LOT. 

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