US SAILING had the chance to sit down with one of the most prominent sailors in the world today; from her Olympic gold medal performance in Qingdao, China to her US SAILING's Rolex Yachtswoman of the Year Award, 2008 was the year of Anna TUNNICLIFFE.
What's next for Anna TUNNICLIFFE
(USA), who is currently the #1-ranked Laser Radial sailor in the ISAF World Sailing Rankings
and also sits on top of the ISAF Sailing World Cup Standings
after winning both of the first two events?
US SAILING: You won a bronze medal at the 2009 ISAF Nations Cup last week and then hopped a plane to Palma de Mallorca, Spain to compete in the Laser Radial at the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE. Is it difficult making the transition from match racing to fleet racing? What about making the transition from skippering with a crew of three to a single handed boat?
AT: "It's not hard to switch from one type of racing to another. Both are very fun in their own way, so for me it's just a mental switch in my head. As for switching from a crew to no crew, I have a fantastic crew that I sail with, so when I sail with them, it's just as easy for me to focus on steering the boat as I do when I'm in my Laser. I do enjoy talking to my crew when I sail, so for that reason I like to sail with others, but I also enjoy the physical side of the Laser."
How have your match racing experiences/successes helped you develop as a Radial sailor and vice versa?
"My match racing has helped me in my fleet racing, as I have been in situations where I need to match race. It also helps with the one-on-one boat situations that you sometimes need when coming into marks."
Do you plan to compete at all seven ISAF Sailing World Cup events this year? If so, why?
"Yes. The plan right now is to sail all seven ISAF Sailing World Cup events. My goal is to win the Sailing World Cup this year. It's a lot of sailing, but I'm looking forward to it."
You have a busy summer competing at four ISAF Sailing World Cup events (Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE in Palma, Spain, Semaine Olympique Francaise in Hyères, France, Delta Lloyd Regatta in Medemblik, The Netherlands, Kieler Woche in Kiel, Germany) and the Laser Radial World Championship in Japan. What are your goals for the summer?
"My goals are to win the Sailing World Cup and to finish top three at the Laser Radial World Championship. I'm also planning on having fun when I sail. I have little goals that I am working on with my coach, too, that are just as important as results."
You're currently ranked #1 in the world in the Laser Radial class and #1 in the Sailing World Cup Standings by ISAF. How important are these rankings for you?
"Both rankings are good to have because although they say I'm the top sailor in the fleet, there are plenty of people that can beat me, so I know that I have to keep pushing myself very hard to stay on top. It also boosts my confidence a bit when I'm down and tired. I remind myself of the rankings and tell myself that I am good and that I can do this."
How do you train to constantly become better and continue to lead the fleet?
"The main ingredient to my training is to keep having fun. As soon as I stop having fun, I stop sailing. I think as long as I'm having fun, I'm always looking for little ways to get better and stronger."
The international Laser Radial fleet is very competitive. Who is your biggest international rival? Who will you watch this summer?
"I don't think there is one person who is my biggest rival. It will be an interesting year as some people have kept training since the Games and others have only just gotten back in the boat. I think after [the Trofeo SAR Princess Sofia MAPFRE] we will know who is where and who to look out for."
How do you handle the pressure during these competitive events?
"Again, I have fun. It sounds a bit repetitive, but that's the only way I can do it."
What are your strengths and what sets you apart from other athletes?
"I think that I am quite fit, so it allows me to focus on my sailing a lot."
Do you plan to compete in another triathlon? If so, what will you do to train for it?
"I do plan to compete in another triathlon, but I have to figure out when and where I can fit it in my schedule. When I find the time, I will follow my training guide that I have at home that tells me what to do and when."
You seem to be constantly travelling, training and competing. Do you ever rest? What do you do when you're not sailing? What do you do for fun?
"I do travel a lot, but I am fortunate that I get to travel with my husband, Brad FUNK
. He makes sure I take time off when we travel. When I'm at home, I have been trying not to do too much sailing as I know I'll do a lot when I'm on the road. When I'm not sailing, I like to read, but I love to run. I try and do road races when I'm at home to keep the competitive side of me satisfied."
You spend a lot of time on airplanes. How do you pass the time?
"When I'm on planes I do like to read and listen to music. But I must admit, I do fall victim to the movies they put on the TVs. No matter how bad they are, I usually end up watching them. If I can avoid it, however, I read and listen to classical music. I do Sudoku puzzles sometimes as well."
Find out more about the ISAF Sailing World Cup at www.sailing.org/isafsailingworldcup.