No Stranger to the Grind
No Stranger to the Grind
Amanda Clark has spent nearly 15 years as a member of the U.S. Sailing Team Alphagraphics. But that won't make winning a berth on the 2012 Olympic team any easier, which is just fine by her. From our November/December 2011 issue.
But she draws strength from her home island. Shelter Island YC is always her first stop when she starts fund-raising. Clark is conscious of leaning too much on the Shelter Island community. But Cliff Clark, no relation, whose family has owned the South Ferry since 1714, says she shouldn’t worry.
“She’ll do everything she can on her own,” says Clark, a former Olympic-caliber distance runner, “and she would never ask for something unless she really needed it. I’ve never heard a person indicate they were weary of the number of the years she’s spent trying to make the Olympic team.”
Clark and Mergenthaler were back on the campaign trail in 2005. They handily won the U.S. Olympic Trials in 2007. At the 2008 Olympics, they were 12th. It was disappointing, though they were not a medal favorite.
Amory Ross/US Sailing
In 2009, Clark took her first extended break from Olympic-class sailing. But she kept her equipment. Clark’s usual fallback career was to work with her mother, who runs an executive search company. But she wanted to try something different, so she got a job on the shop floor at Wooden Boat Works in Greenport, N.Y.
“She was stellar,” says co-owner Donn Costanzo. “I don’t think I’ve ever seen anyone work at a such a pace. The nice thing about Amanda is a lot of people can work hard, but she worked intelligently.
“Everybody just adored her. She knows how to have a good laugh, knows when to crack a joke. You can take instruction from her.”
A late-season lap around Shelter Island in the 2009 Whitebread Race showed Costanzo, however, that her focus was still set on the Olympics. “There wasn’t one second that Amanda wasn’t telling somebody what to do or doing it herself,” he says. “She wouldn’t give us time to eat. It was follow the leader. Everybody started paying attention. We’d never seen anybody in such command.”
She and Mergenthaler returned to the campaign trail at the start of the 2010 season. It didn’t take long for them to regain their form. By May, they were the top-ranked American team. By August, they were eighth in the world.
But Mergenthaler’s heart wasn’t in another three-year commitment. After the Rolex Miami OCR in January, she left the campaign. “I was ready to start another chapter of my life,” she says. Thinking about sailing the 470 with Clark, however, still brings tears to her eyes.