Islanders headed to Chequit Inn to watch Olympic coverage

PHOTO VIA FACEBOOK | Amanda Clark, left, and crew Sarah Lihan at the Olympic Opening Ceremony in London.

Although it now appears unlikely that a news crew from WNBC will be at the Chequit Inn tonight to watch Shelter Islanders cheer on Olympic sailor Amanda Clark, many Islanders, including Ms. Clark’s husband Greg Nissen are expected at the Chequit.

WNBC had originally inquired about reporting from the Chequit on the hometown crowd tonight, but a high level spokesman told the Reporter that now seems very unlikely. For those not at the Chequit who want to tune in tonight, Channel 4 will carry the opening ceremony beginning at 7:30 p.m. The ceremony, which began at 4 p.m. EST, is airing on tape delay.

Islanders have been actively following qualifying races in the past several months that not only put Ms. Clark and her sailing partner Sarah Lihan on the U.S. Sailing Team, but gave every indication that they could well earn Team Go Sail a place on the podium at the 2012 London Olympics in the Women’s 470 races. Just last month, the women took home a silver medal in the Skandia Sail for Gold World Cup regatta off the coast of Weymouth, England, the same venue where their Olympic competition takes place next week. In that competition, Ms. Clark and Ms. Lihan actually took first place in the final-day medal race to put themselves in second place in the overall competition. Many of those competing in Weymouth in June will be the same competitors they’ll face in the Olympics.

The sailing competition begins for the pair on Friday, Aug. 3 and continues through Friday, Aug. 10, when the medal race is scheduled for those top sailing teams that have emerged from the pack during the previous week.

[Click here for an NBC profile of Ms. Clark and Ms. Lihan]

Ms. Clark and Ms. Lihan have been in Weymouth preparing for their races, but were to travel to London today for the opening ceremonies before continuing their preparation for next week’s races.

Greg Nissen, Ms. Clark’s husband, won’t be able to join her until Aug. 6 because his duties as director of Camp Quinipet require his presence here through Aug. 5, he said. But he’s looking forward to joining friends and neighbors at the Chequit.

“The opening ceremonies will be a beautiful and big thing, one of those incredible patriotic moments, to see Amanda fulfilling her dream,” he said in a telephone interview this morning.

He plans to be in England for several days that would include the medal ceremony on Aug. 10. While he said he’s not superstitious, in deference to his wife — “sailors are terribly superstitious,” he said — he hesitates to predict that Ms. Clark and Ms. Lihan will be on that podium.

“I don’t want to jinx anything,” Mr. Nissen said.

While this will be Ms. Clark’s final run as an Olympic sailor, Mr. Nissen said he’s sure she will continue to be involved with the U.S. Sailing Team in the future, helping others to do fundraising and sharing her expertise that comes from two Olympic experiences. Ms. Clark competed with her previous crew, Sarah Chin, at the Beijing Olympics in 2008 where the team placed 12th.

While it’s somewhat melancholy to know this is Ms. Clark’s final Olympic run, Mr. Nissen admitted he won’t miss the fundraising.

It costs about $400,000 to mount an Olympic campaign, including travel and equipment for all the races that lead up to the final races.

A lot of that funding has come from a very generous community that has supported Team Go Sail, Mr. Nissen said. But when there’s a shortfall, he reverts to his own credit card.

“I won’t miss that,” he said. “We’re happy at living very modestly,” but not having the financial pressures will be a welcome relief, he said.

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