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2016 Olympics - Defending Womens 470 Olympic Champions disqualified

by Richard Gladwell, on 11 Aug 2016
Russia gets a jump of a boat length on the fleet crossing 2 secs after the starting signal in Race 1, Womens 470. Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie are with the bulk of the fleet. Richard Gladwell
The defending Olympic champions in the Womens 470 class suffered a set back in their quest to win a second Gold medal .

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie were found by the Olympic jury to have infringed a rule soon after the start of Race 1, and they were protested by the Austrian crew.

They are now carrying the maximum 21points for the first race. This will able to be discarded later in the regatta.

The crew did retain their first place from the second race of the day when they scored a convincing win in very difficult conditions on Guanabara Bay.

Aleh and Powrie now lie in 10th place, twp places ahead of current world champions Camille Le Cointre and Helene Defrance (FRA).

The Kiwis were in second place overall, an excellent launching pad for their title defence from the 20 strong fleet.

After the start the group who started under the Committee Boat elected to tack off to the right hand side of the course, Bithe New Zealnd and Austria were part of this group. The incident was a straight port and starboard rules breech where the port-tack boat must give way to a boat on starboard tack.

Later photos of the 470 fleet on that side of the course show the Austrians well behind the New Zealanders.

Aleh and Powrie’s coach Nathan Handley said in a statement provide by Yachting New Zealand: “Jo, Polly and I are gutted about this decision. The girls truly thought they did not infringe.”

“However, they sailed very well today and will take that knowledge with them into day two of competition. There is a lot more racing to come yet,” he added.

The Women’s 470 are scheduled to race ten qualifying races ahead of a medal race on Wednesday 17 August. After race three each crew can discard their poorest result from their overall points tally.

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