Marlboro High School University of Richmond (Graduated 2001)
Class: 470 Women
Birthdate: April 21, 1979
Birthplace: Red Bank, N.J.
Hometown: New York, N.Y.
High School: Marlboro High School
College: University of Richmond (Graduated 2001)
US Sailing Team Alphagraphics: 2003-08
Member of: Surf City Yacht Club
Occupation: Full-Time Athlete
Sailing Since Age: 7
Sarah Mergenthaler's trophy case is already overcrowded. In addition to being a world-class sailor, she was the first high school athlete in her district to earn varsity letters in five different sports, the first high school female in New Jersey to convert a field goal in a varsity football game as a place kicker, a record-breaker in the javelin throw in college, a varsity soccer player all four years of college who also played semi-pro, and recipient of numerous athlete of the year awards from organizations such as ESPN and the Women's Sports Foundation.
Although all her sports require different strengths and skills, her competitive spirit remains a constant, both on the field and on the water: "I hate to lose and I love being the hardest-working competitor on the field - even if it's a backyard basketball game against my dad...It's in the intensity and focus of competing that I find fun in sport - no matter which sport it is."
For Mergenthaler, sailing is the most complex and technical of the Olympic sports. It is not only the challenge of melding boat speed, boat handling, physical fitness, tactics, strategy, equipment selection and maintenance into a winning performance, it is also the marathon-like pace of winning at a world-class level. "A typical [sailing] event is 10 races over six days. Turning in a good performance requires long-term discipline, consistency, focus and patience. This was probably the hardest thing for me to get used to coming from soccer - a soccer game is only 90 minutes, and even that is long compared to other sporting matches."
Mergenthaler's sailing received more focus after she graduated from the University of Richmond in 2001. Originally a singlehanded sailor, she learned that Amanda Clark - whom she raced against as a youth - was looking for a 470 crew. Mergenthaler got on a plane to Miami to give crewing a try, and the two women clicked as a team. "Amanda is one of the only people I've ever met who matches my competitive spirit. On our boat there is simply a refusal to lose and a resolve to never give in."
Together they campaigned for the 2004 Games. Although tied for the lead at the U.S. Olympic Team Trials at mid-regatta, they ended in second. The day the Trials ended, they committed to a campaign for 2008 and headed straight to Europe to keep competing.
When this duo sailed to the starting line of the 2007 Trials, they were armed with deeper experience and finely tuned skills in decision-making on the water and maneuvering. As they prepare for Qingdao, Mergenthaler considers a Trials win her greatest sailing achievement, knowing how this goal has eluded many of the sport's greatest talents.
"There are so many great, history-making sailors who were never successful at winning the Trials," she says. "You can try all your life and never get it right. But when you do, it's a great feeling."
SIGNIFICANT SAILING ACHIEVEMENTS:
- 1st U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Sailing
- Ranked No. 1 on the US Sailing Team - 470 Women (2005-08)
- Team Alternate/470 Women - 2004 Olympic Games
- 11th 470 World Championships/Melbourne, Australia
- 1st U.S. Olympic Team Trials - Sailing/Long Beach, Calif.
- 3rd 470 North American Championships/Miami, Fla.
- 3rd US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR/Miami, Fla.
- 6th 470 European Championships/Thessalonki, Greece
- 13th ISAF Sailing World Championships/Cascais, Portugal
- 15th HRH Princess Sofia Trophy/Palma de Mallorca, Spain
- 1st US SAILING Pre-Trials/Long Beach, Calif.
- 2nd XI Barcelona Olympic Sailing Week/Spain
- 2nd 470 North American Championships/Miami, Fla.
- 3rd US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR
- 6th HRH Princess Sofia Trophy/Palma de Mallorca, Spain
- 11th 470 World Championships/Rizhao, China
- 13th Semaine Olympique Française/Hyères, France
- 16th The Good Luck Beijing - 2006 Qingdao International Regatta/Qingdao, China
- 27th 470 European Championship/Balaton, Hungary
- 1st US SAILING's Rolex Miami OCR
- 2nd 470 North Americans/San Francisco, Calif.
- 8th Kieler Woche (Kiel Week)/Kiel, Germany
- 18th 470 World Championships/San Francisco, Calif.