Amanda Clark – Perfection
“USA! USA! USA!” roars the crowd at Larchmont Yacht Club as LI’s three sailing heroes Clark, Storck and Capozzi take the stage in front of a massive American flag.
The epitome of Island pastimes, sailing is a sport in which attention to detail and hard work are not only coveted, but essential. To be in tune with the balance of the boat and the environment, a true master of the waves needs to be a perfectionist—a characteristic that Clark’s husband Greg Nissen says she exemplifies.
“If she can’t do it perfectly, she doesn’t touch it at all,” he says.
The couple resides on the water at Shelter Island’s Camp Quinipet, where Nissen is the director. After first meeting through sailing as teenagers and staying in touch through the online social network MySpace, they’ve now been married for almost seven years.
Yet it was a twist of fate that ultimately brought the two together: It was not until they were both home on Shelter Island the winter after Clark did not qualify for the 2004 Olympics that they began dating.
“I say I got her when she was down,” says Nissen. “And it is that ultimate way to get married when you marry a really good friend.”
Nissen marvels at his wife’s accomplishments and the sacrifices she’s made to spend innumerable hours training, but Clark is quick to say that she is not the only one who has to sacrifice.
“I would love to keep in touch with my friends more often, and be in the country a little bit more often,” she says. “I miss a lot of holidays and family time, but it’s also the sacrifices that my husband makes. Greg is an incredible supporter.”
With her husband’s encouragement Clark made the difficult decision to continue training for this summer’s games after her 2008 Olympic teammate, Sarah Chin, chose to leave the team.
With just three months until the Olympic trials, Clark approached Sarah Lihan, 23, of Fort Lauderdale, Fla., and they began training together for the women’s 470 two-person dinghy class (470 representing the length of the boat in centimeters).
“Amanda called me and I was like, ‘Well, she’s really good and she has been to the Olympics before,’ so I knew it was a great idea,” Lihan says to the crowd at the sendoff party. “I was so grateful.”
Despite having to make up for lost time, they won the Olympic team spot after a tie-breaker against the favored U.S. team at the World Championship in Perth, Australia. Through the International Sailing Federation World Cup Standings, the duo is now ranked number one in the world.
“We have just been doing super well together,” says Clark, “and I can’t wait for the competition.”
So let the games begin.
—With additional reporting by Timothy Bolger