Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Rio Olympics 2016: Another disqualification for Aleh and Powrie

New Zealand's Polly Powrie, left, and Jo Aleh compete during the 470 women race at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo / AP
New Zealand's Polly Powrie, left, and Jo Aleh compete during the 470 women race at the 2016 Summer Olympics. Photo / AP

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie's hopes of defending their Olympic women's 470 title appear to be over.

The Kiwi crew picked up their second disqualification of the regatta today, after being flagged for a UFD - being over the startline early - in their opening race today. The pair went on to win the race, but their efforts were in vain, with the UFD meaning they carry the maximum 21 points.

The result saw Aleh and Powrie slip back down to seventh in the overall standings and lose further ground on the leaders, all but ending their chance of defending their Olympic crown.

With Aleh and Powrie unaware they had been flagged for a UFD, it was up to their coach Nathan Handley, to tell the pair their quest to make history as the first Kiwi sailors to secure back-to-back Olympic gold was over.

"We didn't know [we had been disqualified]. So we're thinking it must have been pretty close.

The fleet is so tight and the conditions we had today you wanted to get off the line, so I imagine it would have been pretty marginal either way," said Powrie.

After the disastrous result in the opening race of the day, Aleh and Powrie - also known as Team Jolly - did well to mentally regroup to post a third in the second race of the day to move from ninth to seventh overall.

But they still trail the leaders, Brits Saskia Clark and Hannah Mills, who the Kiwi pair beat out for the gold medal in London, by 22 points with just three races remaining before the medal race.

Adding to Team Jolly's frustration is if you put the two disqualifications to one side, they have produced gold-medal worthy performances in this regatta.

"We actually sailed well today. We wanted to go out there and sail two good races and were first and third across the line," said Aleh.

"I guess it's always a bit hard when the scoresheet doesn't show how well you think you're going."

Today's result would not have been so costly for Aleh and Powrie had they not already picked up a disqualification on the opening day of the regatta. The pair were pinged by the jury for a port-starboard incident, following a protest by an Austrian crew.

The Herald revealed yesterday Team Jolly were able to get their case re-opened after new video evidence came to light, but the jury would not budge from their original decision.
Generally UFD's cannot be appealed, meaning Aleh and Powrie will have to cop today's ruling on the race course on the chin.

In other results today, two Kiwi crews have confirmed their place in the medal race of their respective classes, but both have a lot of work to do to make the podium.

The Nacra 17 pairing of Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders are ranked fifth heading into Wednesday's medal race, slipping back a spot from the position they held overnight. The pair are seven points off the Austrian crew in third spot, meaning the Kiwis will have to finish at least four places ahead of the Austrians in the double points medal race to secure bronze.

After a poor start to his regatta, Josh Junior has done well to claw his way into the medal race of the Finn class. At the halfway stage of the racing, Junior was ranked back in 14th, but a strong run of results over the last two days saw him leap up to eighth.

But with 15 points separating from the bronze position, Junior will need a whole lot of luck and a raft of results to go his way in the medal race to nab a medal.

The men's 470 crew of Daniel Willcox and Paul Snow-Hansen had a better day today, collecting a fifth and second from their two outings to move from 13th to ninth in the overall standings, with three races to go before the medal race.

Racing was delayed for an hour because of light winds which have hit the regatta for three successive days.

- NZ Herald

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