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Paris2024: New Zealand names two skiff crews for Marseille

by NZ Olympic Committee 4 Apr 15:10 PDT 5 April 2024
Jo Aleh, Molly Meech (NZL) - 49erFX - Paris 2024 Olympic Sailing Test Event, Marseille, France. Training Day July 8, 2023 © Sander van der Borch / World Sailing

The New Zealand Olympic Committee have announced crews to compete in a further two Events at the 2024 Paris Olympics, both are in the Mens and Womens two person skiff event.

Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie have been selected to represent New Zealand at their first Olympic Games and are determined to stamp their own mark on the boat made famous by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

McHardie and McKenzie, along with experienced Olympians Jo Aleh and Molly Meech, have today been named to the New Zealand Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in the 49er and 49erFX classes.

Their selections were announced at a function at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron this morning and join Tom Saunders (ILCA 7), Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson (Nacra 17), and Veerle ten Have (Womens Windfoil) and Josh Armit (Mens windfoil), who were named to the New Zealand Team in March.

McHardie and McKenzie will make their Olympic debut in the 49er class, following Burling and Tuke's gold and two silver medals in the class at the last three Olympics.

With the veteran crew not campaigning this Olympic cycle, McHardie and McKenzie have established themselves as one of the leading 49er crews in the world over the last 12 months.

Last year, they won bronze at the Princess Sofia Regatta and the European championships, either side of top-six finishes at the Olympic test event, the French Olympic Week regatta, and the Sailing World Championships.

They have been selected following a close-fought battle with training partners Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn, who were forced to abandon their campaign a few weeks ago after Dunning Beck suffered a serious injury only days before the final Olympic trial.

"Being selected for the Olympics is a dream come true and we are honoured to represent New Zealand on sailing's biggest stage," McHardie said. "We would like to acknowledge the hard work of many people to get us here, including Logan and Oscar who pushed us all the way. We wish Logan a speedy recovery."

The pair are hoping to continue where Burling and Tuke left off in Tokyo when they line up in Marseille, where the Olympic sailing will be contested from July 28 to August 8.

"We grew up watching Pete and Blair achieve incredible results in the class and we appreciate their willingness to share some of their experience and advice with us and other teams through the years," McKenzie said.

"They have left big shoes to fill but we are confident that, with the support of our amazing coaches and the rest of the New Zealand Olympic team, we can do them and the country proud in Marseille."

Jo Aleh and Molly Meech, they have competed at a combined seven Olympics in different events, but at Paris 2024, they will sail together in the 49erFX (Women's Skiff) for the first time at an Olympic Games.

Aleh is a double Olympic medallist - winning gold in the women's 470 class with Polly Powrie in London in 2012, and silver four years later in Rio. She teamed up with Meech in early 2022, after taking a five-year break from competitive sailing.

She's as excited about attending her fourth Games as she was her first.

"Having started my Olympic journey in the Laser Radial (ILCA 6) back in Beijing [2008], I’m happy to be sailing a faster boat each time and I am absolutely loving taking on the 49erFX with Molly and the challenge it brings," Aleh said.

"After watching from the coach boat in Tokyo [where she coached Wilkinson and Dawson in the Mixed Multihill - Nacra 16], I am looking forward to being back on the racecourse and doing what I love."

Aleh and Meech are currently competing at the 2024 Princess Sofia Regatta in Spain and were unable to attend the announcement in person.

"We've been pushing hard to achieve the goals Jo and I have set for ourselves, and we will continue to do just that in the coming months," said Meech, who won 49erFX silver with Alex Maloney in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

"I feel really lucky to be heading to my third Olympics and I can't wait to wear that Silver Fern again and represent my country."

NZOC CEO Nicki Nicol extended her congratulations to the athletes.

"We're thrilled to have added a mix of experienced campaigners and exciting young talent to our Olympic sailing team," said Nicol.

"I'd like to congratulate Jo and Molly on another Olympic selection and welcome Will and Isaac to their first ever Olympic team. We wish them all the best for the rest of their preparation and look forward to seeing them wearing the fern in July and August."

Sailing at Paris 2024 is due to get underway in Marseille on July 28th and conclude on August 8th.

S-W: New Zealand has qualified in nine of the ten sailing events in Paris2024, and so far has named crews to compete in six of those.

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