NZL Sailing Team: Aleh and Powrie prepare for 470 Worlds in France

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie win gold at the London Olympic Games
Jodie Bakewell-White

New Zealand sailing’s Olympic gold medal girls Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie are one of four kiwi crews getting set to contest the 470 World Championships where racing kicks off at La Rochelle, France next Monday - August 5th.

Head-lining the New Zealand men’s’ crews are NZL Sailing Team pair Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox.

The International 470 Class is marking its 50th anniversary and as a consequence the regatta, being sailed in La Rochelle, France, has attracted a huge entry list and a celebratory atmosphere.

206 boats (412 sailors) will go into battle for the Men’s World title; 70 boats (140 sailors) are entered in the Women’s division, and the regatta also features the Junior and Masters World Championships (underway already) and the Legends’ Trophy.

2013 Men’s and Women’s World Championships
New Zealand entries…

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (Women’s 470 World Championship)
Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox (Men’s 470 World Championship)
Francisco Lardies and Luke Stevenson (Men’s 470 World Championship)
Richard Power and John Power (Men’s 470 World Championship)

Coaches: Nathan Handley and Hamish Willcox

Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox at the 2013 470 National Championships
Jodie Bakewell-White
For Aleh and Powrie, Willcox and Snow-Hansen and the other New Zealand sailors the celebrations will be put aside once racing gets underway and for six days they will turn their focus to sailing well and returning the best result possible at this pinnacle World Championship event on the Olympic class calendar.

Coming together to campaign in the double-handed 470 class in 2009 Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie stepped into the spotlight when they won Olympic Gold at the London 2012 Games. While the pair has amassed plenty of World Championship and ISAF World Cup medals prior and since, they haven’t yet been crowned Women’s 470 World Champions despite coming close with silver in 2010 and bronze in 2011.

27 year-old Aleh and 25 year-old Powrie (Takapuna Boating Club/Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron) announced their campaign towards Rio 2016 in December last year and since getting back in the boat early in 2013 have taken out Oceanbridge Sail Auckland, EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup in Garda and Delta Lloyd Regatta.

Most recently they won silver at the 2013 470 European Championships missing out on the gold to French pair Camille Lecointre and Mathilde Geron who will be among their rivals again in La Rochelle next week. London Olympic silver medalists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark are also in La Rochelle, as is Beijing gold medalist Elise Rechichi of Australia now campaigning with Sarah Cook.

22 year-old Paul Snow-Hansen (Wakatere Boating Club) and 23 year-old Dan Willcox (Murrays Bay Sailing Club) joined forces in the Men’s 470 for a tilt at the Rio Olympics subsequent to the 2012 London Olympics where helm Snow-Hansen represented New Zealand with distinction placing fifth overall sailing with Jason Saunders.

This year Snow-Hansen and Willcox have produced encouraging results including eighth at the recent 470 European Championships, a silver medal at Delta Lloyd Regatta and bronze at International 470 Spring Cup.

The two other kiwi crews in the men’s line up are Francisco Lardies (Glendowie Boating Club) and Luke Stevenson (Tauranga Yacht & Powerboat Club) and Manly Sailing Club’s Richard and John Power.

In the massive 206 strong Men’s fleet the crews to watch include the formidable Matt Belcher (2012 Olympic gold medalist) and Will Ryan of Australia, GBR’s Luke Patience (2012 Olympic silver medalist) and Adam Wagner as well as Lucas Calabrese and Juan de la Fuente (ARG) (2012 Olympic bronze medalists).

The racing schedule
1 - 4 August: Registration, equipment inspections, Anniversary Race and Opening Ceremony
4 August: Legends’ Trophy (see below)
5, 6, 7 August: Qualifying Series
8, 9 August: Qualifying/Final Series
10 August: Medal Race and Prize-giving

The Legends’ Trophy

A so-called Legends’ Trophy, with entry restricted to gold medallists at stipulated key events such as Olympics and World Championships across the history of the class, will take place on Sunday August 4th.
Five New Zealand sailors feature in the 18 boat line-up where nationality can be mixed; they include Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (2012 Olympic Champions), Simon Cooke and Peter Nicholas (2002 World Champions) and Hamish Willcox (1983 and 1984 World Champion) sailing with Gildas Philippe of France (1998 World Champion).