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London Olympics- New Zealand wins historic Gold Medal in Womens 470

by Richard Gladwell on 11 Aug 2012
Olivia Powrie is all smiles as she, and Jo Aleh cross the finish line to win the Gold Medal in the Womens 470 class © Richard Gladwell www.richardgladwell.com

The New Zealand crew of Jo Aleh and Olivia ('Polly') Powrie won the Gold Medal for the Womens Two Hander (470) ar the 2012 Olympic Regatta this afternoon.

Starting the Medal race tied on points with the British crew of Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark, Aleh and Powrie took off on port tack after the start and were never headed.

They won the race, sailed on the Nothe course in front of a crowd of about 10,000 paying and freeloading fans.

Light winds prevailed for the race, sailed after the Mens was won in fine fashion by the Australian crew of Malcolm Page and Mathew Belcher. The Australian team have won three Gold medals at this regatta (Mens Singlehander, Mens Skiff and Mens Two Hander) and have the potential for a fourth in the Womens Match Racing tomorrow. They will come away with at least three Gold Medals and two Silver or four Golds and one Silver.

While it is usual for the top crews to match race in a tied or close points situation, there was little of that, save for a little jousting between the Kiwis and the Brits before the start.

The New Zealanders, took off on port in what appeared to be nice pressure and a good angle with Powrie on the trapeze, while the British seemed caught up in the ruck of the fleet, sailed out on the opposite tack and didn't appear to have the same pressure as the New Zealanders.

At the first mark, the New Zealanders led from Italy's Giula Conti and Giovanna Micol by a margin of 13 seconds and those placings remained until the finish.

In fact after a little swapping in positions on the first downwind run, the positions never changed between the ten boats and the race turned into a procession led by the New Zealanders.

Aleh and Powrie extended their lead around the course winning by a margin of 41 seconds which is almost the length of the last leg, a short reach to the finish.

The Silver medal had already been decided, in that it would be won by whoever finished second between the British and the Zealanders. The Bronze medal was won by Lisa Westerhof and Lobke Berkhout (NED) who finished sixth in the Medal race.

The win by Powrie and Aleh is the first in two handed monohull competition since Helmer Pedersen and Earle Wells won the Gold Medal in the Flying Dutchman class in 1964, and the only other two handed Gold medal being that of Peter Mander and Jack Cropp in 1956. Leslie Egnot and Jan Shearer won a Silver medal in the 470 in 1992 at the Barcelona Olympics. Rex Sellers and Chris Timms won a a Gold medal in 1984 at Long Beach in the two handed Tornado catamaran.

New Zealand has won two medals at this Olympics, well within their target set by funders, Sport NZ - and also marks the first monohull medals won since 1992.

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