Clark is ahead in race for Olympic berth in sailing trials in Australia

COURTESY PHOTO | Sarah Lihan, left, and Amanda Clark racing in Perth, Australia on Tuesday.

Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark and her crew Sarah Lihan beat their American Olympic trial competition in two races Thursday to stand in 12th place in the ISAF Sailing Championships in Perth, Australia.

They finished 13th and 5th in races seven and eight in the women’s 470 competition while the duo they must beat for a berth on the 2012 US Olympic team — Erin Maxwell and Isabelle Kinsolving Farrar — finished with a 16 and a 20. That dropped Maxwell-Kinsolving Farrar from 14th to 16th place in the standings on Wednesday.

“We executed our day as planned,” Ms. Clark commented on her Team GOSAIL Facebook page, “and now have a small lead in the standings going into the last two scheduled races. Looking forward to an exciting day of racing tomorrow!”

The winner of the US Olympic spot in the women’s 470 category will be the team with the lowest combined overall placement in Perth and the previous Olympic trials that were held in June in Weymouth, England, where the 2012 Olympic races will be sailed. Clark-Lihan finished in 11th place in Weymouth, three places behind Maxwell-Kinsolving Farrar.

After a day off on Saturday in Australia, the competitors will be on the water for races nine and 10 beginning at 1:30 a.m. EST on Saturday followed by the final medal race on Sunday at 12:10 a.m. EST.

The American competitors are in the top-middle of the pack of 48 international sailors meeting in Perth. The Spanish team of Tara Pacheco and Berta Betanzos is in first place followed by boats from Japan, Israel, New Zealand and Great Britain in the top five positions.

Clark-Lihan are leading two other American boats, ahead of Maxwell-Kinsolving Farrar and the team of Cara Vavolotis and Lara Dallman-Weiss, who are trailing the crowd in 48th place.

Recapping the seesaw results since racing started on Monday, Clark-Lihan slipped behind their American competitors on Wednesday in races six and seven. They landed in 16th place Wednesday, two spots behind Maxwell-Kinsolving Farrar, who were ranked 14th.

After beating their American competition in three of four races on Monday and Tuesday, Clark-Lihan struggled to a 33rd-place finish in race five on Wednesday morning while Maxwell-Kinsolving Farrar came in 5th. In race six, Clark-Lihan finished 27th to Maxwell-Kinsolving Farrar’s 12th.

The Clark-Lihan team started the competition Monday very well, with 12th and 3rd place finishes for a 5th-place ranking. Maxwell-Kinsolving had a bad day and finished back in 27th place.

Tuesday’s competition kept Clark-Lihan ahead but Maxwell-Kinsolving Farrar, the number-one ranked women’s 470 team in the world, narrowed their gap. Clark-Lihan scored a 15-16 in Tuesday’s two races while Ms. Maxwell (of Wilton, Connecticut) and Ms. Kinsolving Farrar (of New York City and Fishers Island) finished 6-19 to climb to 19th overall.

Races can be tracked at: