NZL Sailing Team: Team Jolly head for European racing circuits

Weymouth, England - Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie with coach Nathan Handley after their Gold Medal win

2012 Olympic Gold Medalists in the Womens 470, Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (Team Jolly) report as they head for Europe, and the 2013 sailing season:

It’s that time of year again, and we are about to head off to Europe again for our first few regattas of 2013. We will compete in two warm up regattas held in Italy and Holland, before we head to the 470 European Championships which will be sailed in Formia, just south of Rome (cue tourist excuses for some days off).
Before building up to our big regatta of the year, the World Championships, which will be held in La Rochelle in July.

Polly Powrie poses with a young sailor at Kohimaramara Yacht Club Sunday September 23, 2012
It has been a rather different build-up for us this year, with a lot less time spent on the NZL2water, and a lot more time spent talking to people, learning, and making plans. We have started our Rio campaign by creating a solid four-year strategic plan, which we call our TPP (Team Performance Plan).

We want to make sure that what we are doing is extremely well considered; therefore the process has involved meeting a variety of people in and around sport, from management to Olympic champions, so see if they can find any holes in our plan, or things we may be able to do better…

The challenge of our next four years to Rio will be very different from our last campaign. Four years ago we were new to the 470, and had a mountain to climb in what felt like a very short time frame. This time around, we are starting from a very different place, we have learned a huge amount over the last few years, and we are starting from the front end of the fleet rather than the back.

Everyone will now be pushing hard to leap frog us, so its a whole new challenge to try and win a gold medal in 2016 – which is of course our aim.

To make sure we can give ourselves the best possible chance, we know that we need to get the basics right, work out where we can make the best gains in performance, as well as making sure its still an adventure! We are so used to being the team chasing the leaders that it has been rather hard for us to try and dial it back, and really look at these next four years, and in particular this next year with a bit of perspective!

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie head for the finish on Day 6 of the 2012 Olympic Regatta, sailing on Weymouth Bay
So this brings us to this year, 2013, the first year of the next Olympic cycle and a huge opportunity for us to take the pressure off, expand our knowledge base, try things we wouldn’t have tried last time (look out for a little surprise at our first event in Garda), and basically just learn and have some fun (keeping the Jolly in Team Jolly!).

With our brilliant coach Nathan on ‘sabbatical’ for part of this year, we are taking the opportunity to learn from some different coaches, as well as going coach-less for our first event – on purpose – to see what we will learn from having to be self sufficient!

Later in the year we are also going to fit in a trip to the Olympic venue in Brazil, to actually get a look at the waters we will be racing on in 2016. Then Jo is going to follow and ride some of the latter stages of the Tour de France (the good hilly ones!), and then we will go and check out some America’s Cup racing in San Fran (where we will hopefully see the kiwi’s give everyone a good smack down!).

So a busy year (we don’t know any other), but it should be a fun year and that is what we are aiming for!!