To Amanda Clark & Sarah Lihan We use PayPal.

Thursday, June 21, 2012

35 days to go!

Good Morning Race Fans!

TGS is back in cold, rainy Weymouth for one last training camp before the Games.   It's mid-June and temperatures are in the 50's and the rain clouds never seem to stop, but we're here and making our final push towards a medal in August.  

As is the case with any big project, we have had our share of bumps along our journey to the Olympics.  Our result (19th) at the Worlds in Barcelona was less than ideal, but it taught us some critical lessons.  It's never easy to reflect on the tough times, but in this case they showed us how we can best communicate and interact within our three person team.  The way we transfer information from coach to athlete, athlete to athlete, and athlete to coach is of utmost importance, and we are confident that we have made great strides in determining what works and what doesn't for our team.  While the overall score wasn't fantastic, we did have some great peaks, namely a number of top three scores, especially in conditions that we have struggled with in the past, as well as a continued demonstration that when the breeze is up, our speed is unparalleled.  

Barcelona skyline in the background of the 2012 470 Worlds.
Photo Courtesy Thom Touw

From Barcelona we flew directly to Lanzarote, one of the Canary Islands, located 150 miles off the northwest coast of Africa.  There we rendezvoused with the entirety of the US Olympic Sailing Team for five days of activities designed to bring together all the people that we will be enjoying out Olympic experience with.  The island is very dry and scrubby, with an annual precipitation around five inches and persistently howling tradewinds blowing off the Sahara.  Every year it hosts an Ironman, and within triathlon circles, it's widely regarded as one of the most difficult races due to the extreme conditions.  Fortunately, while we were there, the weather was hot and windy, but not too harsh, as we spent some serious time outside!  Our first day involved a 10 km cliff walk, where the whole team traipsed over the tops of the tallest mountains on the island, enjoying the views and engaging in some fun team bonding activities along the way. 

2012 US Olympic Sailing Team atop a mountain in Lanzarote, Canary Islands.

Without a doubt, however, the highlight of the trip was the 'Amazing Race' we each completed.   Paired up with a member of the team we didn't know quite so well, we were tasked with figuring out a riddle that we had to windsurf, bike, run, hitchhike, flamenco dance and ride a camel to solve.  The whole race took ten hours to complete, and tested not only athleticism (40 km bike and 10 km run through some serious hilly terrain!) but also wit, charm, and a certain amount of creativity.  

Among the 14 Olympic team members, we were only allowed 10 feet on the ground!
Photo Courtesy Udi Gal

A short plane ride to London transported us to the opposite end of the weather spectrum-- they've no shortage of water and greenery here in the UK!  Our first mission of the two week trip was to rig and prepare our new boat, which was waiting for us back in Weymouth, still in the plastic from the factory in New Zealand.  After several days of aligning foils, switching control systems, measuring masts and matching the new boat to the way we've set up the old boat, we were ready to christen her.  A gaggle of US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider athletes gathered for the ceremony, with gold medallist Anna Tunnicliffe spraying 'Hello' with the finest champagne the British equivalent of a 7-11 had to offer.  

Christening 'Hello' with Gold Medallist Anna Tunnicliffe
Photo Courtesy Will Ricketson/US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider

Next up was Skandia Sail for Gold, held in Weymouth on the same waters where we will fight for an Olympic medal in just over a month.  We enjoyed Weymouth's never-ending rain and the seemingly unavoidable cold, but we didn't experience the epic local seabreeze until the final day of the event.  We had highs and lows throughout the week's racing, but made some important advances in decision-making that kept us in the top group. The crowning moment of the regatta, though, was winning the medal race.  Going into this final race, which includes only the top ten boats and counts double, we were sitting in sixth position with a shot at the podium if we won the race and the four boats ahead of us finished in exactly the right order.  Well, we went out with the game plan of winning the race and letting the chips fall as they would... and it worked!  We sailed a very clean race beneath the spectator hill on the Noethe Course (where the medal races will be for those of you coming to watch in August) and everything fell into place.  

Moments after winning the Medal Race, and a Silver Medal!  
Photo Courtesy Thom Touw

It was such an incredible feeling to cross the line and see Udi waving two fingers at us, realizing we'd actually done it--indescribable, really, but very, very motivating to keep pushing until we are on that podium when it counts, August 10.  

In other news, TGS has just won the Sailing World Cup, a circuit of seven regattas hosted all over the world each year.  This is particularly exciting, for it demonstrates the consistency we've shown in the final year of the quadrennium, firmly establishing our position at the top of the Women's 470 fleet.  We are also currently ranked third in the ISAF World Rankings.  It's all coming together....

Finally, we invite all of our friends, family and fans to join us for our final send-off before departing to London for team processing.  US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider is hosting a party presented by Maclaren and the Junior Sailing Association of Long Island at Larchmont Yacht Club on July 14 from 3-6 pm.  The event will be family-themed and is free and open to the public.  Please RSVP here.  

Never stop fighting!

Amanda & Sarah


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

Team GO SAIL would like to thank the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider and all of the US Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider sponsors: Title Sponsor Sperry Top-Sider, Gold level partners Rolex Watch USA and Atlantis WeatherGear, Silver partners 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 ALMACO The Shelter Island Yacht Club, The New York Yacht Club, The Lauderdale Yacht Club, The Sailing Foundation of New York and the Southport Sailing Foundation's Clever Pig Sailing Team.