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Thursday, December 22, 2011

TGS 2012 Olympic Trials Wrap Up

WE WON! TGS is London-bound next summer!!!
Olympic Trials Results
Perth Worlds Regatta Website

Dear Supporters,

Today we write from the time zone warp of Sydney International Airport where we will split off to return to our respective homes after completing the World Championships in Perth, Western Australia. This event served as the final competition in our Olympic selections, and as most of you know by now, we won! Before we get into the details of the event, we first want to thank everyone who supported us—we are nothing without the people behind us. To all of you who wrote, called, crossed your fingers, prayed, stayed up all night watching malfunctioning GPS trackers and broke your diets with late night snacking and over-caffeination, here’s to you. Your love and pride is tangible, even from the other side of the world.

We went into the Worlds with one goal in mind: to win the Trials. To achieve this, we had to reverse the points that we had given to our American competition, Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving-Farrar, at the first half of the Trials, which was the Sail for Gold regatta in Weymouth last June. There, they placed 8th and we finished 11th, thus here in Australia we needed to put two boats or more between us in order to seal our Olympic bid (with the Australian event being the tie breaker). Though they had beaten us at the first half of the Trials, we had finished ahead of them at every regatta since, leaving us confident that though it would be a close race, we were more than capable of reaching our goal.

Leading up to the Worlds, the talk was all about the legendary Fremantle Doctor, allegedly pumping in every day at 25-30 knots. Throughout the fall, we sought out the windiest training locations we could find in order to best prepare for what was meant to be a blowing-dogs-off-chains-windy Worlds. We prepared physically and mentally for anything, but optimized for big breeze. Of course, as a result of all this prep work, ‘it’s never like this!’ syndrome was in full effect throughout the two weeks of racing in Perth. The most we raced in was 15-18 knots, but most races were around 10 knots. As is always the case though, the day we left, the Doctor finally returned from his holiday, taking over for the Fremantle Dental Hygienist/Nurse/X-Ray Technician that we had experienced during the event. (Yes, the jokes did get old after awhile.)

Despite the unexpected conditions, we raced a solid series. We’ve certainly seen where our weaknesses lie, and have a good grasp of what we need work on looking forward, but we are most proud of our response to competition under stress. Though we built a significant lead over the first two days, a disastrous 33-27 scorecard on day three left us deep in the hole with only four races left to regain our advantage. Here we owe massive credit to our coach, Zachary Leonard, for screwing our heads back on when we were in danger of losing it all. We came back after the layday with all guns blazing and didn’t lose another race to Erin and Isabelle. Even though we built back a 27 point lead in those final four races, the nature of the event left a lot of the overall positions up to the actions of other boats. The final race of the series, it actually didn’t matter so much that we beat them across the line as it did that we catch one of the other boats ahead of us. They engaged us at the start but we were free and able to sail forward about halfway up the first beat. We continued to gain places throughout the race, but much of our fate was in the hands of other boats. Only in the last 700 meters of the race did we cross ahead of the French boat that was directly ahead of us in the standings, and thus secure our 12th place overall. Erin and Isabelle remained in 15th place, with the French and Japanese teams between us.

It’s only been 48 hours since we sealed the deal, and the time has been a whirlwind of container loading and interviews and packing ourselves up to head back to America. It’s a dream come true for Amanda, who can now marvel over the title of ‘two-time Olympian’ and for Sarah, who has qualified to compete in her first Games only nine months after she first stepped in a 470. We owe so much to our event coach Zack Leonard as well as Udi Gal and US Sailing Team Alphagraphics 470 Men’s coach Romain Bounnaud for all their help over the last few months’ training. We wouldn’t be where we are now without the backing of the US Sailing Team Alphagraphics and its supporting sponsors.

Together we form a powerful combination, but we are nothing without the incredible network of supporters that we have from the Shelter Island Yacht Club, the New York Yacht Club, The Sailing Foundation of New York, The Clever Pig Sailing Team and many more. It will be your enthusiasm and belief that will bring us to the podium next August—we are nothing without you. Though we’ve already jumped a huge hurdle in winning the trials, we will need all the help we can get to see this mission through to the end. If you are interested in making a donation, please visit our website for a simple PayPal check out, or if you prefer to mail a check to the Team GO SAIL Foundation, please send it to Amanda Clark, P. O. Box 373 Shelter Island, NY 11964

Medals on our mind,
Amanda and Sarah

Saturday, December 10, 2011

Ways to Follow our Olympic Trials

Hello friends and family!

Here are a few links to follow if you are interested in watch our World Championships and Olympic Trials. The 470 Women are scheduled to race in Perth, Australia from December 12th – 18th. We will race in 1 fleet (totaling 47 entries) and each boat will carry a GPS tracking device.

The Schedule as of now (Great for all night owls):
Monday 1:30am EST Race 1 & 2
Tuesday 1:30am EST Race 3 & 4
Wednesday 1:30am EST Race 5 & 6
Thursday 10pm EST Race 7 & 8
Saturday 1:30am EST Race 9 & 10
Sunday 12:10am EST Medal Race

Team GO SAIL: our updates and pictures through out the event

GPS Tracking: Filter the race you would like to view by clicking filter by CLASS and choose 470 – W . What is nice about this site is you can review races after they have happened. Note that the trackers have been acting a little crazy, so all data may not be accurate.

Live Regatta Blog: This site is a nice timeline of results and race info as it comes in. It also will tell you if the racing has been postponed.


US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics coverage:

US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics Blog (updated daily):

ISAF video recap of all racing:


Amanda Clark & Sarah Lihan

Tuesday, December 6, 2011

TGS Winter Update: Australia Part 1

-       Arrival to Australia
-       Bronze medal at Sail Melbourne—First World Cup event of 2012
-       Team holiday on Great Ocean Road, arrival to Perth
-       Pre-Worlds training in Perth
-       Reflections on our development as a team from Sail For Gold to now
-       Ready to race at the Worlds—follow along at and regatta site

Dear Supporters,

After months and months of dreaming about and working towards this event, we have finally arrived—TGS is here in Perth, ready to finish the job.  We write today from a cafĂ© along the cappuccino strip in Fremantle, the seaside town that is hosting the Worlds.   It’s pouring rain and all fleets racing in the first half of the event are being held ashore to avoid the thunder and lightning—a first for hot, sunny Perth!  We’ve been in Australia for nearly five weeks now, arriving to Melbourne November 1, and we’ll be here another two weeks to complete the event and consequently the US Olympic Team selections.  A long trip for sure, pretty much as far away as we could be from friends and family, but we are glad for the time we’ve spent here, as it has given us the proper amount of time to acclimate and prepare for the main event.  We’re chomping at the bit, ready to sail, but we must remain patient until the 470 Men finish their event—we begin racing after them, one week from today, December 12th.

Our Worlds preparations began in earnest in Melbourne, where we raced for the first time since our Europeans in Helsinki last July. We competed in Sail Melbourne, the first ISAF World Cup event for the 2012 season.  After a fall’s worth of training with a private coach working within the USSTAG framework, we purposefully did the regatta without coaching support, wanting to focus on building our communication within the boat.  Though the fleet was smaller than that of most World Cups, it was of the highest quality, with half the boats competing ranked top ten in the world as well as several gold medalists.  Because there were so few boats, we were raced all together, men and women on the same line with the scores being separated out on land.  This provided an excellent, if unforgiving, fleet, and a great segue back into racing after such a long break. Port Philip Bay dished out a range of conditions, with everything from glassed off no wind to AP over A go-home-racing-abandoned windy!

Our first time in the ISAF World Cup leader pinnies as a team!
We sailed a solid series, sporting the red third place pinnies every day but one.  We are particularly pleased with the improvements we’ve made in the 5-8 knot marginal trapeezing conditions, which is an area that had previously been one of our greatest weaknesses.  In keeping with our mantra of improving our weaknesses without losing our strengths, we demonstrated excellent speed both up and downwind in the bigger breeze, an area in which we’ve historically been quite strong.  We took a second overall—first women’s team by over a minute—in the one windy race that was completed (the other was abandoned mid-race).  At the end of the event, we faced a medal race scenario in which we had a small enough point margin to be under pressure from the German boat in fourth place—essentially we needed to stay ahead of them but still finish in the top five in the race.   This meant that we had to balance sailing the race with match racing the one boat, a tricky task at best.  Unfortunately, we jumped the gun at the start and were over early and had to restart to avoid a disqualification.  Once up and racing, we were forced to split from the fleet on the upwind, but were able to put together smart beats and blazing fast downwinds to catch up to the pack.  In a nail-biter last run, we surged past Japan and Ukraine to cross the line in third, which was enough to secure the bronze.  It was a pivotal moment for us, our first medal as a team, and a great confidence boost leading in to the Worlds.  Looking out over the crowd from the podium… well, let’s just say it’s an experience we’ll be looking to repeat.

Bronze Medal at Sail Melbourne
After packing up the boats to go to Perth via container train, TGS took a few days’ holiday along the Great Ocean Road, a windy coastal road through the mountains and cliffs of southern Victoria.  We spent three days hiking along the dunes and beaches, exploring waterfalls, and checking out other various natural attractions along the way.  At the end of the road, we enjoyed a stunning sunset over the Twelve Apostles, a series of sea stacks worn away from the mainland cliffs by the powerful, ceaseless waves of the Indian Ocean.  All in all, one of the most incredible trips— if you ever make it to Australia, it’s a must-do!   The vacation gave us a nice opportunity to unwind and not think about sailing for a few days, which is just as important a preparation as any leading up to a peak event.  Finally, before ending our report from the east side of Australia, we would like to thank our host family Caroline and Guido, for welcoming us and making us feel at home during our stay.

TGS takes some time to see the sights

We flew directly to Perth after our Great Ocean Road adventure, where we have set up camp for a month leading up to the Worlds.  After unpacking the boats we went straight into a coaches regatta for five days of combined men’s and women’s racing, this time with a slightly larger and even more talented fleet.  We used this event as an information-gathering opportunity, to learn about the venue and the breeze.  We saw two days of the infamous ‘Doctor’, the local seabreeze Perth/Fremantle is so well-known for, but the rest of the event saw a variety of different breeze directions.  All of these different conditions provided an excellent training ground for what we could have here, outside of the expected pumping seabreeze.  Following an intense month of racing, we returned to more of a boat-handling, speed-tuning mode of training, which was a nice change of pace.  We continued our pattern of training with the USSTAG men’s teams, this time with the addition of our own USSTAG coach, Zack Leonard, who we will work with through the event.  We’re going wicked fast and our communication and teamwork is better than ever before—we feel more than ready to race.
On-board camera, catching some of our training in Perth
It’s been a crazy road since we teamed up this past February—a long journey for sure, but one we feel we’ve put a lot of soul into.  Going into the first half of the Olympic Trials back in early June, our goal was to keep it close, to maintain enough of a point margin as to have enough time to properly train.  We met that goal—the difference is a mere three points between us and the other American boat—and we are now reaping the benefits of another six months’ training.  We have grown so much as a program, and what’s really incredible is that we still feel, each day, that our learning curve is still so steep.  Which is not to say that we haven’t learnt enough, but rather a testament more to the fact that we are strong.  Strong enough to win, strong enough to bring a medal home next summer.  We have beaten our competition at every event since the first half of the trials, and we are ready to put that difference on paper where it matters most—here, next week, at the Worlds.  Follow along with us as we complete this part of our dream, it’s going to be great.

Sail fast!

Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan

Enjoying the parade at the Opening Ceremonies at the Worlds

Click Here to make a donation to Team GO SAIL. We use PayPal.

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.