08/10/12 4:01pm

COURTESY PHOTO | Shelter Island sailor Amanda Clark, background, finished ninth overall in the Women’s 470 competition at the 2012 London Olympics.

After eight days and 11 races through the waters off the south coast of England, Shelter Island’s Amanda Clark and crew Sarah Lihan concluded their 2012 Olympic competition Friday with a last-place finish in the medal race and 9th place out of 20 boats from around the world that competed in the women’s 470 two-person dinghy class.

A two-time Olympian, Clark topped her finish from Beijing in 2008, when she was 12th.

Referring to her previous crew Sarah Chin’s decision to give up competition in early 2011, not long before Olympic qualifiers were to begin, Ms. Clark commented Friday, “What motivated me to keep going in 2011 is that I love sailing. I really enjoy being part of the Olympic experience. I am so happy to be part of this and on this side of it. It’s been a great experience and definitely glad I didn’t stop in 2011.”

New Zealand’s Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie won the overall Olympic women’s 470 competition as well as the medal race. They had a net total of 35 points. It was the third race they had won of the 11. They were second in three races.

Great Britain won the silver medal and Netherlands won the bronze.

“Our medal race was unfortunately not as breezy as the men had,” commented Lihan. “We had a lot of pressure coming in and out. When the pressure was in, the left was the favored side of the course, and when it was out, the right was favored. We didn’t line ourselves up with those trends and our scores reflect that.”

“Today when we saw the Brits with their double flares and the Kiwis upside down, and everyone celebrating, Amanda and I were pretty down, to be honest,” said Lihan. “I looked down and saw the Olympic rings on our pinnies and thought, ‘I represented the United States of America at the Olympics.’ I’m really disappointed with how we performed. I really wish we were able to get up on that podium and watch our flag raise — but we’re here and we did it.”

In the medal race on Friday, Clark and Lihan’s last-place finish added 20 points to their score for a net total of 98. The top 10 boats competed in Friday’s medal race — the 11th race of the competition, which began Aug. 3. In a medal race, points are doubled, so a 10th-place finish meant 20 points.  The boat with the lowest point total was the winner of the overall competition.

Clark and Lihan teamed up in 2011 and quickly saw their results improve, collecting medals at world cup events. They qualified for the Olympics on the final day of the 2011 World Championships in Perth in December. In a final World Cup pre-Olympic event that was held off Weymouth in June, they won the medal race and placed second overall, moving up from sixth place, and took home silver medals — but not the Olympic kind.

Clark announced in March in an appearance at the Shelter Island School that this would be her last Olympic competition. She said she hoped to continue to work with the U.S. Olympic Sailing Team in some capacity to share her knowledge and experience.

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07/27/12 7:30pm

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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