Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie - 2014 ISAF World Cup, Qingdao October 2013
New Zealand Olympic class sailors Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie have been named Rolex ISAF Female Sailor of the Year for 2013. They were announced the winner, of four finalists, at a presentation ceremony just staged in Muscat, Oman (on Tuesday 12th November) at the end of year ISAF Conference.
The reigning Olympic and World Champions in the Women’s 470 class are the first ever New Zealand women to be honoured with the ISAF Female World Sailor of the Year title.
'I'm a little bit shocked,' said Aleh. 'There were some amazing nominees this year and we are delighted to be part of this. We feel honoured to be part of the group.'
'We haven't done this alone and we had some wonderful people behind us who have been truly supportive,' added Powrie.
The ISAF World Sailor Awards were launched in 1994, and just three other New Zealanders feature in the previous winners list. They include Sir Russell Coutts who has won ISAF Male Sailor of the Year twice, in 1995 and 2003, Mike Sanderson in 2006 and Sir Peter Blake in 1994. Both Leslie Egnot and Barbara Kendall have been named finalist nominees in 1995 and 1999 respectively.
Being crowned 2013 470 Women’s World Champions was Jo Aleh (27 years old) and Polly Powrie’s (25 years old) pinnacle achievement this year, the title was a first for them and came exactly one year to the day since they won Olympic Gold.
Aleh and 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, the EUROSAF Champions Sailing Cup in Garda and Delta Lloyd Regatta adding the 2013 World title in August.
'It’s been a pretty big year for us,' says Jo Aleh. 'We went into it to try and do it a bit differently and we did some different events. It’s been a very busy year and we’ve fitted in a lot. We’re pretty happy that we finally ticked off that World Championship, that was really good and been learning all year and having fun.
Polly Powrie added, 'We were super happy to win and there was a lot of relief we’d finally managed to do it. We’d done a few 470 Worlds before that and to finally tick it off, for us that was our goal this year and we’re happy we achieved it.
'Next year will probably be a bit different as this year was a bit busy so we’ll have to tone things down and concentrate more on 470 sailing and obviously we’ve got Olympic selection next year and that’s a massive hurdle to get through. From there it’s a similar program with World Championships and World Cups through to Rio.'
The other finalists for 2013 Rolex ISAF Female Sailor of the Year included Deneen Demourkas (USA) - Farr 30 2013 World Champion, Erika Heineken (USA) - Kiteboarding 2012 Course Racing World Champion and Raiya Al Habsi (OMA) - First Omani Woman To Sail in the Rolex Fastnet Race.
Australia’s Mathew Belcher was named 2013 Rolex ISAF Male Sailor of the Year.
About ISAF World Sailor of the Year
The ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year Awards are the highest award a sailor can receive in recognition of his/her outstanding achievements by the world of sailing. The Awards are presented every November to one male and one female winner.
Launched in 1994, the ISAF World Sailor of the Year Awards are recognized as the pinnacle award a sailor can receive in recognition of his/her outstanding achievements by the world of sailing.
The Awards are presented to sailors by sailors. Two Awards, one for a female sailor/crew and one for a male sailor/crew, are presented each year during the ISAF Annual Conference in November. The ISAF Annual Conference is a weeklong series of meetings, which brings together the decision makers in the sport to debate the issues affecting the future of sailing. Sailors selected as nominees for the awards may represent any aspect of the sport.