Olympics: Aleh and Powrie plan to be in Rio

It won't take much to tempt sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie to put together another Olympic programme in four years' time because they can't imagine doing anything different. Photo / Getty Images.
It won't take much to tempt sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie to put together another Olympic programme in four years' time because they can't imagine doing anything different. Photo / Getty Images.

It won't take much to tempt sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie to put together another Olympic programme in four years' time because they can't imagine doing anything different.

It helps when you win Olympic gold. Aleh and Powrie won the women's 470 regatta after finishing first in Saturday morning's (NZT) medal race to become the first New Zealand women to win a sailing gold in anything other than windsurfing.

Leslie Egnot and Jan Shearer won silver in the women's 470 in 1992 and Egnot went on to skipper an all-women crew in the America's Cup.

Aleh, in particular, has a sense of history and quickly recognised what they had achieved but has no intention of moving away from Olympic classes even though their efforts have captured the attention of sailing royalty like Russell Coutts and Brad Butterworth.

"I quite enjoy the little boats," the 26-year-old said.

"We have a bit of time now at home to see what's next. We will get back into something. We can't give it away, [we are having] too much fun. We have to have a chat about it but we should be [in Rio] in some form."

Changes will be made to the sailing programme in Rio, with a catamaran and women's skiff being added in favour of the Star and women's match racing. Kiteboarding is also likely to feature instead of windsurfing with a final decision on that due later in the year.

Rio is expected to produce lighter airs, which won't suit the New Zealand sailors as much as Weymouth, but Aleh and Powrie proved themselves adept in all conditions emphatically winning the medal race in light and shifty winds on the Nothe course close to Weymouth.

They were consistent throughout, except for an 18th in the final race before the medal race that allowed Great Britain to draw level on points, and ultimately finished 16 points ahead of their nearest rivals.

Powrie comes from a sailing family but Aleh took up sailing after watching the 1995 America's Cup and the pair hope others feel inspired by their feats.

"Hopefully it brings a few more girls into the sport, because it is a great sport," Powrie, 24, said. "You get to travel the world and do fun stuff."

"Nothing's ever the same," Aleh added. "When I started sailing, I always looked up to Barbara [Kendall] and Lesley Egnot."

It rounded off a good Olympics for the New Zealand sailors and the gold for Aleh and Powrie came on top of the silver won by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke in the 49er class, which was New Zealand's 100th Olympic medal. But they could have added others with three crews fifth and two others seventh.

After such an intense buildup and Olympics, something resembling normality will soon return for Team Jolly.

Both will return to Auckland to pick up their studies, but it won't be long before they jump back in a boat together and start working towards Rio.

- APNZ

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