Worth the Wait

The last team to start racing puts together the best opening set of results for the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider. Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan are right in the lead group in the Women's 470.
Sailing World


Sarah Lihan and Amanda Clark were in great spirits after sailing themselves to a seventh and a third on the opening day of competition in the Women’s 470 class at the 2012 Olympics. They are fifth, but just three points off the lead. Stuart Streuli

It took nearly a week, but on Day 6 of the Olympic regatta the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider finally had a team start the regatta with two medal-contending scores, and come off the water smiling. The Women’s 470 team of Amanda Clark and Sarah Lihan put together a seventh and a third in their first action of the 2012 Olympic Regatta and find themselves just 3 points out of first and one point out of second.

Did you have to wait to get started in Qingdao? How as the wait been this time around?

AC: We were definitely in the first half of the Olympics the last time. I think [this time the wait] helped us because we had a chance to go to London to see Team USA compete and that was super motivating. That was something that at the end of China and the end of Bejing that got Sarah (Merganthaler Chin, Clark’s former crew) and I fired up and kind of brought the whole experience together again and to share that now with Sarah Lihan it was super cool


Ben Ainslie said the same thing, that watching the cycling and row got him excited.

AC: To see the victory ceremony and Team USA up there on the top of the podium and the flag going up, that’s just building that image at the end of racing.

What events did you see?


AC: We were moving around. We saw equestrian, fencing, boxing, basketball, swimming, and gymnastics. In two days. We were busy. It was Saturday and Sunday so there was low traffic and it made it quick getting around.

And which U.S. victory celebrations did you see?

SL: We watched Ryan Lochte win his gold medal in the 400 IM, we watched the swim and we saw him walking out after the swim and then we saw him get his gold medal, which we didn’t know at the time, was the first gold medal for the U.S., which was pretty cool. And then we went back the second night for swimming and saw Dana Vollmer set a world record in the 100 Meter fly, which is just like unreal, and she got the gold for that as well, which is pretty cool.


Sarah, what have you thought of your first Olympic experience. You’ve had a good guide in Amanda, who’s been here before. Has she been able to prepare you for it?

SL: Since we qualified we’ve been talking a lot about what happened last time and what to expect and how much clothing you’re really going to get—it’s kind of ridiculous. It’s been awesome and I wouldn’t have wanted to do it with anyone else.

Tell us about your first day of racing. A 7th and a 3rd. A good start, which has been tough to come by for the U.S. Sailing Team Sperry Top-Sider?


SL: We’ve got to watch the rest of the team struggle through some highs and some lows and that gave us a perspective on how easy it is to go out and have a bad first day, and how punishing that can be and how hard it is to come back. For us, we had a beneficial forecast, it was advantageous for us. It didn’t actually materialize, which was kind of disappointing but we were happy to go out and get two top 8s.

So you were hoping for a little more breeze, I suspect?

SL: Hoping yes. We’re always hoping. It was supposed to be significantly windier. We were a little bit too raked back, a little too depowered for the first race. We were spot on for the first race. It was definitely a good way to come back.

Amanda, this has to be a confidence building start. Is that something that can carry forward?

AC: We’re going to take it day by day. And in China we did start slower. The wind today was more wind that we could add up from every day’s total in China. It’s a totally different event and really a fresh fleet and everybody’s sailing really well, as you can see. We’re all almost in a tie in the top grojup. We’re just going to keep at it, it’s great to sgtart off in the top and we’re going to work on staying there.

Anything particular that worked well for you today?

SL: I think we were pretty confident in our abilities, particular in the stronger breeze, but in these conditions as well. We’ve done a lot of sailing over the last year and a half. We know what we can do; we’ve done it before. It was great to have the experience; we did it at Sail For Gold where we got the silver medal, knowing that we could do it here against the Olympic fleet and so recently. Our mantra for the games is to do what we know how to do, because that’s enough.