by Daniel Smith
In the ISAF Rolex World Sailor of The Year Nomination, as current Olympic and World Champions Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie have established themselves as the class act in Women’s 470 fleet racing.
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie - 2014 ISAF World Cup, Qingdao October 2013
The pair announced their intentions to go for gold at Rio 2016 in January 2013 and they hit the ground running, never finishing off the podium across a busy year of racing.
What eluded the pair was a Women’s 470 World Championship title, they fought hard and it eventually came at the 2013 edition in La Rochelle, France. For their success they received an ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year nomination, 'It’s a big honour,' said Aleh. 'We’ve seen the list of people who have been nominated and this year there are some amazing sailors and just looking back at the past of the people who have won it’s a who’s who of sailing. We’re pretty proud to be at least mentioned.'
Sir Peter Blake, Russell Coutts and Mike Sanderson are three famous Kiwi names who have taken the title and Aleh and Powrie are modest over their comparisons, 'I don’t think we’re alongside them. We’ve always looked up to them and I think for us we’re just excited to be nominated.'
Podium finishes at World Championships are not uncommon for the Kiwi pair but the gold medal was one they had been unable to conquer until 2013, 'It’s been a pretty big year for us,' added 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.
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 2013 ISAF Rolex World Sailors of the Year will be announced on Tuesday 12 November at a glittering award ceremony in Muscat, Sultanate of Oman.
The winners are selected by the ISAF Member National Authorities (MNAs), the national governing bodies for sailing around the world, who vote for the one male and one female nominee who they believe most deserves the Award.