28 Feb 2016

NZ sailing crews pick up World Champs silver

2:55 pm on 28 February 2016

Two New Zealand sailing crews have won silver medals at the 470 World Championships in San Isidro, Argentina, with performances that will have Olympic selectors taking notice.

Paul Snow-Hansen and Daniel Willcox.

Paul Snow-Hansen, front, and Daniel Willcox. Photo: Matias Capizzano

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie, and Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox, put in excellent medal race performances today to secure a podium place in both the men's and women's championships.

Snow-Hansen and Willcox did it by winning today's medal race in Argentina.

It is New Zealand's first medal in the men's 470 Olympic discipline since 2002, and Snow-Hansen and Willcox's best World Champs result.

Making a dream start to the regatta with two race wins on the opening day, the pair then dropped in the standings after day three, but found form again over the second half of the six day series.

In total, they won five of their eleven races including today's high pressure medal race.

Snow-Hansen and Willcox will have Olympic selectors taking note with the performance.

They're being coached in Argentina by Hamish Willcox, a three-time 470 World Champions himself in the 1980s, and also coach to Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

Snow-Hansen and Willcox's previous best result at a 470 World Championship Regatta was 7th place in 2013 and they admit to having worked very hard to improve over recent months.

The Croatian pair of Sime Fantela and Igor Marenic took the men's title after placing 5th in today's medal race which was enough to hold off the Kwi charge.

France's Sofian Bouvet and Jérémie Mion took bronze relegating the Australian combination of Belcher and Ryan out of the medals.

Polly Powrie, left, and Jo Aleh after winning the Rio Test Event, August, 2014.

Jo Aleh, left and Polly Powrie. Photo: Getty Images

Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie placed 3rd in the medal race to earn the silver medal in what they describe as one of the longest, toughest regattas they have sailed.

The reigning Olympic champions were hampered with Powrie feeling unwell and even losing her voice, but still managed to sail well enough in the high pressure race.

"Polly was incredible; I was so proud of her today. She was worried about letting us down, she was amazing. She called a few of the bits in the race that actually made the difference. She could croak things out. She used up the last of her voice in the race," said Aleh.

Aleh said it was an encouraging performance in Olympic year.

"The good thing for us, is that there are so many things that we didn't get quite right this week. To still be able to pull off a silver medal feels good."

Aleh admits it was a gruelling week of racing, not helped by a venue that had a bizarre infestation of water plants across the race courses.

"It's a nice place here, but the weed and the sea plants - I've never seen anything like it really, I've been sailing for a long time. It's had its own unique challenges."

Camille Lecointre and Helene Defrance from France are the new 2016 Women's 470 World Champions, just three points ahead of Aleh and Powrie at the conclusion. The bronze podium position went to Lara Vadlau and Jolanta Ogar of Austria.

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