Trial and error calms waters for NZ's Aleh

Tue Jul 26, 2016 1:45am EDT
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By Greg Stutchbury

WELLINGTON (Reuters) - Olympic sailing champion Jo Aleh's preparations for the Rio de Janeiro Games have included plenty of planned trial and error, which has led to a level of consistency that places her and Polly Powrie among the favorites in the women's 470.

New Zealand's Aleh and Powrie are the top-ranked duo in the centerboard 4.7m-long dinghy heading into next month's Games, having finished no lower than fourth in 22-of-24 World Sailing events they have competed at since the London Olympics.

That consistency has not come about by accident, Aleh told Reuters from Auckland on Tuesday as she, Powrie and coach Nathan Handley worked to smooth out the fickleness of sailing, a sport reliant on interpreting ever-changing conditions.

"A lot of our sport is all about decision making made on the fly," the 30-year-old Aleh said. "You're presented with a set of circumstances and you have to make a split-second decision.

"The more you've been presented with that in the past, the more likely it is going to be the correct decision... so we have just been slowly trying to work on our areas of weakness.

"I think that's why we have had some bad regattas at times. It was about getting it right or getting it wrong."

'Team Jolly', as she and Powrie are known in cyberspace, have mostly got it right over the past four years.

Their run of results includes winning their first world title in La Rochelle in 2013 and a silver at the world sailing championships in 2014 in Spain.   Continued...

New Zealand's Jo Aleh (L) and Olivia Powrie celebrate with their national flag as they arrive in the harbour after winning gold in the women's 470 sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games in Weymouth and Portland, southern England, August 10, 2012. REUTERS/Pascal Lauener