For some people, even the mere thought of being confined to the 14 feet of a small sailboat out on the rogue waters of Puget Sound is enough to bring about the symptoms of sea sickness. Yet for Gig Harbor native Hanne Weaver, the boat’s close quarters and the riptides of any ocean are where she feels most alive.
“I’ve always liked being in the water, especially here in the Pacific Northwest. … Being on the water; it’s just a freeing feeling,” she said. Then again, Weaver’s love for sailing is more than just a hobby or lingering childhood interest: It’s her job, and she’s hoping it will take her to the roster of the U.S. 2020 Olympic Sailing team.
The dream to wear the red, white, and blue and sail her Laser Radial boat for Team U.S.A. really began for Weaver as an 8-year-old watching her grandpa sail around Gig Harbor. It was on his boat she realized her love of being on the water. Her interest piqued when her older brother was enrolled in the Learn To Sail program, and she would go with her mom to pick him up. Seeing her brother out on the glassy water compelled her to give it a try.
Weaver rose through the ranks of local regattas before moving on to state and later national competitions, where she found the more she competed in bigger races, the further she fell in love with sailing. Today, Weaver continues to compete, only now her competitions take her across the world. One that is forever imprinted on her was when she won her first Women’s Singlehanded Junior Championship in Chicago in 2012. It was her third national race to date.
While Weaver loves the opportunity sailing has provided to travel across the country and world, she acknowledges that the endgame for her sailing career has always been to make it to the Olympics — a goal that requires an immeasurable amount of dedication, focus, and prioritizing.
To prepare for the Olympic trials, Weaver has been working for the past three years on her body and mind. She trains at a gym five days a week for about an hour to an hour and a half. Her workout is specifically designed for sailing, with a focus on building strength in her legs, core, and upper body in addition to endurance training. Of course, Weaver also spends time training on her boat, but it’s harder to schedule training time on the water because of its dependence on the wind and her availability.
Weaver’s devotion to reaching the Olympics is highly admirable, but it does come at a price. After high school, Weaver forwent attending college to focus exclusively on her sailing career. She doesn’t regret the decision but does admit there are times she’s questioned whether sailing is what she truly wants. In the end, though, those thoughts are fleeting.
“This is who I am,” she said. “This is my dream. Everything else can be put on the side burner, because this is more important.”
Her hard work has already begun to pay off as she heads into the 2020 team trials with the invaluable advantage of experience. Weaver competed in the 2016 team trials and came in third, but didn’t go to Rio, because her event only takes one sailor.
“The trials are more intense, and (you’re) more anxious, just because the goal that you’ve been working toward is right here in front of you,” Weaver said, adding: “I feel like I know what to expect more going into it now. … This time, I know how to arrive at the event mentally prepared for it and what to do (in certain) situations.”
Weaver has the commitment and skill of a potential Olympian, but she’s also quick to credit her parents’ role in her sailing journey. At the start of her career, Weaver’s parents were her support system — emotionally and financially. “My parents have supported me with everything that I do. I don’t’ think I could be here today without them and their support.”
Now, Weaver has a major sponsor, CHI Franciscan Health; priceless experience heading into the Olympic trials; and more certainty in herself. “Sailing’s given me a lot, especially in confidence and being able to do things on my own,” she said.
This dream demands steep sacrifices of time, money, and body. But for Weaver, a trip to Tokyo for the 2020 Olympics would further cement the fact that every early morning workout, and extra minute out on the water would have been completely worth it.
Follow her journey at weaversailing.com.