Sailing community rallies for Amanda Clark’s Olympic dreams

03/18/2012 10:30 AM |

PAUL SQUIRE PHOTO | Amanda Clark (right) talks to two supporters outside her fundraiser at Hanff's Boat Yard in Greenport to raise money for her trip to the London 2012 Olympic Games

Amanda Clark doesn’t like to lose.

The lifelong Shelter Island resident, Olympian and sailing prodigy skippered a boat in the 2008 Beijing Games and finished 12th among the 19 boats racing.

Four years later, Ms. Clark has set her sights on bringing home a medal.

“[The 2008 Games] were a great base for this campaign,” she said.

Ms. Clark, who was named the number six top North Fork athlete of all time by Times/Review Newsgroup (parent company of The Suffolk Times and Shelter Island Reporter) in 2011, has earned countless awards at events spanning the globe. She has already qualified for the 2012 London Olympics.

But the Oympics aren’t cheap, and the sailing community has responded. Saturday she was part of a fundraiser at Hanff’s Boat Yard in Greenport with her crewmate Sarah Lihan to raise money for their Olympic run.

Dozens of supporters attended the event, which featured local beers, silent and live auctions and fresh food. Like most Olympic athletes, Ms. Clark and Ms. Lihan are not sponsored and must pay their way into the Olympics themselves.

They’ve estimated the trip will cost about $170,000, but only have an additional $50,000 left until they reach their goal.

Friends of Ms. Clark praised her work ethic and determination at Saturday’s fundraiser.

“We just adore her,” said Wooden Boatworks co-owner Donn Costanzo, who employed Ms. Clark when she was younger. “She’s a wonderful, wonderful person and she has all the right stuff.”

Mr. Costanzo said he sailed in boat races with Ms. Clark and instantly knew she was an Olympian because of her focus and drive. At one point during the “Whitebread” race around Shelter Island, he recalled, a man they were racing with stopped to bite into an apple for lunch.

Ms. Clark didn’t like that.

“He just went to bite it and she turned around and said ‘We don’t have time for that!'” Mr. Costanzo joked. “So he threw it down into the bilge, trimmed the line, and we all sat there for the rest of the race watching the apple bouncing around.”

Despite not medaling in her last Olympics, Ms. Clark said she was looking forward to reliving the experience and representing her country next year.

“Just seeing the other athletes, in all different sports, and just feeling that common goal of pushing yourself to be the best and to do so much more,” she said, “We were part of Team USA and we were winning with them.”

Those interested in learning about Ms. Clark’s Olympic run can find more information on their website at, and can donate to their cause by mailing donations to the Team Go Sail Foundation, PO Box 373, Shelter Island, N.Y. 11964.

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