Kohi Beach was where it all started for New Zealand's newest Olympic golden girls.
Jo Aleh and Olivia "Polly" Powrie, also known as Team Jolly, have sailed their way into the history books by beating Great Britain on Saturday.
Powrie attended St Cuthbert's College in Epsom and both launched their sailing careers at Kohimarama Yacht Club in their early teens.
Aleh started sailing after being inspired by Team New Zealand's 1995 America's Cup win. Powrie comes from a sailing family.
Kohimarama Yacht Club's former commodore Alan Bilkey says he could tell there was something special about the young sailors.
"I've known them through their sailing careers.
"Jo was from a non-sailing background and as soon as she got into a boat she loved it.
"She was so dedicated to it and was top of her class and would beat the boys too.
"We'd have fun prizes to motivate the girls because the boys would normally do better.
"But when Jo came along we started giving out fun prizes for the boys.
"Polly became addicted to the sport through her two older siblings. She did very well too and you could see these girls coming.
"They were going to be great."
Bilkey says Kohimarama Yacht Club is delighted with their success.
"The club is run by parents for the kids only and so we all feel part of it when the members are successful."
Aleh, 26, and Powrie, 24, teamed up to win the 420 world championships in 2007 but Aleh focused on the single-handed Laser Radial for the Beijing Olympics, where she finished seventh.
They reunited and moved into the 470 class after Beijing and earned top four success at three world championships - but their goal was always the Olympics.
Team Jolly navigated their boat, which they dubbed Muppet, around four courses during the heats and held their nerve throughout.
Britain's Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark were outwitted by the Kiwis in the double-point medal race.
The Brits had less experience in match racing scenarios and it showed. They were off to a positive start in 5 to 6 knots of wind but Aleh immediately tacked away.
Mills decided not to follow, forcing huge separation up the first beat.
New Zealand got best side of the course and by the first mark the Brits were trailing by 200 metres and never recovered.
Officials then decided to shorten the course due to lack of wind and Britain had to settle for silver.
Team Jolly embraced as they crossed the line.
Powrie's former sailing partner Melinda Henshaw says that seeing the podium finish was a proud day for all 470 sailors.
"We've been trying for years and years to get up on that podium and they've finally done it.
"This is a great achievement for not only the girls but for all 470 sailors.
"When we sailed together she was really gutsy and level-headed for a sailor of her age," Henshaw says.
"Quite often age and Olympic experience can help you do well in this sport because 470 is a really technical class and requires a certain amount of apprenticeship hours."
The victory was the fourth of five Olympic golds for New Zealand at the London Games and was our first Olympic gold in the sport since 1984.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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