Thursday, August 28, 2008

Experience of a lifetime...

Olympic Games Final Report
From: Amanda Clark & Sarah Mergenthaler USA 470 Women's Team
Dear Supporters,

We’ve just returned home to the USA from the Olympic Games. The last four weeks in China was the experience of a lifetime. We finished the Olympic regatta in 12th overall. This was not the position we had hoped for heading into the racing, but we can safely say we gave it all we had and left everything on the waters of Qingdao. The 470 racing took place in the earlier part of the sailing competition, which turned out to be the light wind week. We had flashes of brilliance with 5 finishes in the top 10 during the ten-race regatta but we had difficulty putting consistent results on the board.

The highlight of our racing was undoubtedly day #4 (races 7 & 8). We launched at 11am for a 1pm start (it was a 45 minute tow to our race area). The day looked promising with surprisingly clear skies and even a little cumulus developing on shore. Perhaps a meaningful thermal would bless they day’s racing? But alas, when we finally arrived at the start, there wasn’t a breath of wind. We bobbed around until 4pm when the evening land breeze began to fill. The race committee was quick to start us, hoping to keep the fleet on schedule. Because all of China is on one time zone and Qingdao is on the eastern frontier, dusk comes early, even during summer! We had a wonderful 8-12 knots for both races and even got to pump downwind. We rolled two consistent scores: 7, 6, which was good enough to boost us into the top 10. By the time we reached the ramp in the Olympic Harbor it was 7:30 and pitch black. Thankfully, US Team Leader Dean Brenner was there to meet us, trolley and American flag in hand. We were exhausted but thrilled to turn in a consistent day.

We spent August 21-24 in Beijing at the Olympic Village. It was incredible to live and meet with U.S. athletes from other teams. We also got the chance to attend a few events including the gold medal games for volleyball, men’s basketball, women’s basketball and handball. On August 24th we capped our Olympic experience by marching in the Closing Ceremony and what a show it was! China has set the bar extremely high for all future Olympic host cities.

It has been a pleasure and a privilege to represent the United States at the 2008 Olympic Games. The Olympic ideal has had a profound effect on our lives. Competing in the Games has made us better sailors, better sportswomen and better people. The Olympic movement is humbling and awe-inspiring. We hope use our momentum to give back to sailing as it has given so much to us. We would like to thank each and every one of you for your support, enthusiasm, good wishes, emails, phone calls and ongoing interest in our sailing. We truly believe we would not have made it to the Olympics without such an incredible support system behind us. Thank you, Thank you, Thank you!

We would especially like to thank: Our Families, US Sailing Team AlphaGraphics (especially Dean Brenner, Katie Kelly, Gary Bodie & Sarah Hawkins), Coach Bunny Warren, Gill, Kaenon Polarized, Snapper Rock, Mills Sails, SeaMar Gloves, New England Ropes, Kinesys Performance Sunscreen, Shelter Island YC, Surf City YC, New York YC, Seawanhaka Corinthian YC, Shrewsbury Sailing & YC, NJYRA, the Lightning Class, Sailing Foundation of New York, Southport Sailing Foundation, and the Oyster Bay Sailing Foundation for believing in us!

Very Best Always,