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Friday, July 22, 2011

Summer Update

  • Sail for Gold 2011 first part of US Olympic Trials—finished 11th
  • Amanda participates in BMW Drive Team USA and first sailing Olympic Day
  • Sarah coaches Kiel
  • Europeans 2011—Helsinki, Finland—finished 9th
  • Upcoming August training in Shelter Island, to celebrate 125th anniversary of SIYC

Dear Supporters,

We write to you from Portland Harbour, site of the 2012 Olympic Games, where we are about to begin our final training block of the 2011 European season. We’ve had quite a successful run over here this year, not just on the scoreboard but also as we grow together into a team. Since we joined forces in February, we’ve logged over 120 days together sailing, training, rigging, travelling, and racing, and we truly feel a unit, functioning as one towards our goals.

Since our last update (which was a long time ago, whoops!), we’ve competed in two major events, the first being the 2011 Skandia Sail for Gold, which served as the first half our US Olympic Team Selections. Our primary goal going into the event was to ‘keep it close,’ and to keep ourselves in the game for the ultimate showdown which will come at the end of this year at the Worlds in Perth, Australia. Going into this event, we knew we had lot of experience to gain in order to compete against not only our direct competition from the US but also the talented field of international sailors that this event welcomed. As a team in its infancy, we wanted to keep things realistic but also improve upon our prior finishes while still balancing the trials of the US selections.

Directly before the regatta started, we scheduled a two week camp with a private coach, Udi Gal from Israel, a highly successful 470 crew with three bronze medals at the 470 Worlds from 2006-2008 as well as two trips to the Olympic Games. This camp proved essential to pulling together what we’d already learnt as well as developing a new gear in the breeze, which has become one of our biggest strengths.

photo credit: Clive Mason

Racing in Weymouth/Portland Harbour is not for the faint of heart—air temperatures in the low 50’s, the water a balmy 60, and the breeze regularly gusting into the high 20’s is the hallmark of a typical summer’s day here. We completed six days of racing, during which we focused on our own boat and the skills we already had as well as building confidence in what we know as sailors and as a team. We recorded our first top five race finishes and put together a solid scoreline, just barely missing the medal race, which achieved our goals of keeping the points close. Finishing the event in 11th shows a drastic improvement over our last World Cup event in Hyeres, France where our final score was deep in the 30’s. We left Weymouth feeling quite accomplished that our hard work of the past four months had paid off but knowing that we’ve just begun to open the door to our full potential as a team.

From England, Sarah drove the rig to Kiel, Germany, where she went back to her roots coaching Catherine Shanahan, a young US hopeful in the Radial before taking an epic thirty hour ferry to Finland for the Europeans. Amanda flew back to Shelter Island, where she was busy coaching future LISOT superstars and a few other Opti and 420 clinics on Long Island as well as the next generation of US Women’s 470 sailors, Marlena Fauer and Carly Shevitz. Squeezed between bouts of coaching, Amanda made a few appearances on the US Sailing Roadshow with her former student and current Roadshow host Will Ricketson. Stops on the Roadshow included the first ever Olympic Day for Sailing, held in New Bedford, MA. Olympic Day is an opportunity for Olympians to promote the foundation of Olympic Spirit and patriotism and to help spread the word of the power of following your dreams both in sport and in life. Next, as a member of the 2008 Olympic Team, she represented sailing at the BMW Drive for Team USA event in Southampton, NY, where, yes, there was even time for a little test drive! It’s amazing how fast two weeks of ‘vacation’ goes by!

Team GO Sail then reconvened in Helsinki after spending our Fourth of July in the air (no fireworks from seat 26A, unfortunately!) where we set right to rigging the boat and getting out on the water for a USSTAG camp. We trained all together with the men’s and women’s teams led by our coaches, Zack Leonard for the ladies and Romain Bonnaud for the men. For training, we had drastically different conditions from England; Finland, despite being in the Arctic Circle, showed us 75 degrees and endless amounts of sunshine, but pitifully light breeze. Fortunately the breeze picked up a bit for the regatta, where we completed thirteen races spread over seven days in wide variety of conditions. In addition to the normal challenges of a top notch international fleet and the demands of simply sailing the boat, we had the pleasure of adding a bit of navigation to our repertoire—our course area was set in the midst of a field of rocks and islands! Unlike a normal course circle which is well offshore and clear of all such hazards, we often had to decide which side of the island we would go to, whether there really was a rightie off that one particularly tall rock, or if we’d completely lose our centerboard if we got too close!

The Europeans was an opportunity to compete in a non-peak event scenario, as it doesn’t count towards our Trials, but the bulk of the international fleet was in attendance. The regatta provided a final benchmark before we return home for three months of domestic training leading into the Worlds. Going into the event, our goals were less boathandling focused and more geared toward mental toughness and how each of us can bring our best tactical strengths forward to the team. We took these goals to heart, as we put together not only our first race win as a team but also another day where we scored a very consistent 2-2 to give us the title of overall day winner. Though we had a couple tough races, we proved that we have earned our spot in the top group with a solid series of scores in the top five. We qualified easily for medal race and finished the event in 9th and as the top American boat.

We are now back in Weymouth after a long drive from Finland to England with lots of ferries and are now preparing for one final European training camp with USSTAG Men and Women 470s. After this block, we have a few weeks off sailing before two weeks’ training in Shelter Island before moving up to Buzzard’s Bay for the month of September. Following that we have another few weeks’ sailing in Miami, and then it’s off to Australia for November and December as we prepare for the Worlds.

As we spend so much time away from home it’s always special to get a little love from our fans—we really couldn’t do this without you. Going into the final four months of preparation for the Worlds, financial support is critical for us to back our training. Please help us see this through, click here to visit the website to make a tax-deductible online donation or send a check to Team Go Sail Foundation c/o Amanda Clark, PO Box 373 Shelter Island, NY 11964. Stay tuned for more information about Team GO Sail schwag, coming soon!

Sail Fast,
Amanda Clark & Sarah Lihan


To make a donation please visit

Team GO SAIL would like to thank the US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics and all of the USSTAG sponsors: Title Sponsor AlphaGraphics, Gold level partners Rolex Watch USA and Atlantis WeatherGear, Silver partners Sperry Top-Sider LaserPerformance, Harken, Team McLube and Trinity Yachts, and Bronze partners New England Ropes, Group Experiential Learning, and Bow Down Training.
Team GO SAIL is also supported by The Shelter Island Yacht Club, The New York Yacht Club, The Sailing Foundation of New York and the Southport Sailing Foundation's Clever Pig Sailing Team.