Amanda Clark on Olympic medal hopes: ‘We are very much still in this’

COURTESY PHOTO | Shelter Island’s own Amanda Clark, background, is now through six of 10 races in the 2012 Olympics.

Despite a disappointing day in the Women’s 470 Olympic competition Sunday, Shelter Islander Amanda Clark and her crew, Sarah Lihan, want fans to know they’re still in the game and optimistic about making the medal race on Friday.

The sailing duo, which goes by the name Team Go Sail, dropped from fourth place overall to eighth place based on their 19th and 20th place finishes in races five and six Sunday. After a day off today, they will resume their quest to reach the medal race with two more races Tuesday.

“[Team Go Sail] had a rough day yesterday but we are taking the lay day to get our heads straight to fight through til the end,” they wrote on their Facebook page Monday. “Four more races and a medal race, we are very much still in this. Game on.”

In an interview with Dana Paxton, a spokesperson for the U.S. Sailing Team, the pair said there was “dying breeze” on the North Course that created very difficult conditions and forced the sailing committee to change the length of the course.

“It wasn’t conditions that suit their powerful sailing,” Ms. Paxton said.

Ms. Lihan elaborated further.

“The first race was in decent pressure, but it was dying the whole way through,” Ms. Lihan told Ms. Paxton. “We had a game plan to go left. There was a big cloud on the right side that we thought was going to kill the breeze. We got a persistent righty with more pressure than we had on the left side. We executed our game plan, but unfortunately it was incorrect. That put us back. It was difficult to gain places back the rest of the race because as the breeze died, there weren’t any lanes to pass. It wasn’t a speed issue, there just weren’t any lanes and not tactical gain to get around. And they shortened the course.”

Ms. Clark told Ms. Paxton that the day off Monday should help the sailors regroup.

“We are lucky to have some time to decompress,” Ms. Clark said. “We are going to have more of these days with four-lap races and on the Harbour Course, we have to change gears and get back on track. I believe we are capable of doing it and I don’t see today as foreshadowing of how the rest of the event will go.”

The 10-race series concludes with races 9 and 10 on Wednesday.

The team must be in the top 10 of the event standings after Race 10 Wednesday to qualify for the medal race on Friday.

Team Go Sail is nine points ahead of 11th place Japan, currently the top team out of the medal race. The Americans are now 20 points behind third place the Netherlands for the bronze position.

In Olympic sailing, points are awarded based on how you finish. Finish first, you’re awarded one point. Come in second, you score two points, etc. Each team’s worse race is thrown out before the medal round. The team with the lowest point total at the end of the medal race, when points double, is the winner.

Races can be viewed live at and results will be posted as soon as they’re available at

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