Olympics: Aleh and Powrie going for gold

By Michael Brown

Sailor Jo Aleh finally had a look at the points table today and found it wasn't as bad as she thought it was going to be.

It's not bad at all, with Aleh and Olivia Powrie in joint gold medal position in the women's 470 class with just Friday night's (NZT) double points medal race remaining. They are also so far ahead of the Netherlands in third they merely need to avoid disqualification to guarantee at least silver.

But it could have been so much better for Aleh and Powrie. They finished second in the first race overnight, to jump out to an eight-point lead over Great Britain, but crossed in 18th in the second race to let Great Britain back into it.

It will be their discard (teams are allowed to drop their worst result) but a finish inside the top 10 of the 20-strong fleet would have given them a lead heading into the medal race.

"We had a pretty good first race today, which helped us a little bit, but then we followed it up with our little stuff-up of the regatta,'' Aleh said. "There had to be one, we figured, so that was it.

"It's left us still in a pretty good spot. I've finally had a look at the points because I don't really look throughout the event and they look better than I thought they would.

"I don't look at them until the end because they don't really matter. What happens before the medal race doesn't really matter as long as you sail well, everyone else can do what they want.''

Everyone else will now be bit-parts to the real action. The gold medal will essentially come down to a match race between New Zealand and Great Britain sailed on the Nothe course in front of the spectator area in Weymouth.

The winds have tended to be shifty there all week, meaning both crews will be alert to make sure they cover the other, but it could also present opportunities for the trailing boat.

Before the 10th race, Aleh and Powrie had sailed a consistent regatta with their worst result a 10th in the fifth race. British skipper Hannah Mills admitted they didn't expect to be level at the end of today's racing, especially after trailing by eight points before the last race.

"It was very, very shifty today and they're very, very good at overtaking boats, as are we, so we always thought they'd come back into it,'' Mills said. "The fact they didn't is great. To overhaul that eight-point margin they had before that race was more than we could have hoped for. We thought the best we could do was pull back a couple.''

New Zealand are guaranteed another sailing medal on top of the silver won today by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the 49er class but Aleh and Powrie aren't celebrating yet.

"It's good to have a medal but the job is not done yet,'' Powrie said before being whisked away.

That's because they want the really shiny one.

- NZ Herald

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