Results show NZ sailing's deep talent pool

FRED WOODCOCK IN LONDON
Last updated 05:00 13/08/2012
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke
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PROUD DAY: Peter Burling and Blair Tuke pose with their silver medals.
Jo Aleh and Olivia Powrie
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GOLD MEDALISTS: New Zealand's 470 sailors Olivia Powrie (left) and Jo Aleh.

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If New Zealand sailing bosses are judging the success of these Olympics by top-10 finishes, they'll be doing cartwheels on the Hauraki Gulf.

Eight of the nine crews were in the top 10, and five of those finished in the top five - credible results in competitive fleets.

Ultimately, though, sports are judged by the medal table at the end of the two weeks.

On that score New Zealand had a very good Games but not a great one.

Breakthrough sailing medals for two talented young crews boosted New Zealand's medal tally.

A third medal would have iced the cake and it was achievable.

The women's 470 crew of Jo Aleh, 26, and Polly Powrie, 24, were one of the favoured crews in that class, having won the past two World Cup regattas at Weymouth, and they proved their skill and ability to cope under intense pressure by winning the gold medal.

The sky seems to be the limit for them, as it does for Peter Burling, 21, and Blair Tuke, 23, who were seen as the other crew with more chance than not of claiming a medal in the 49er skiff.

They did that, matching their silver medal efforts from the past two world championships.

Those two crews can reflect on a job well done and hopefully start planning another Olympic campaign.

Other crews had realistic designs on a medal and ran good campaigns but fell short.

JP Tobin's seventh placing in the men's windsurfing was well below what he wanted to achieve, while Andrew Murdoch (fifth in Laser) was a genuine pre-Games medal contender and the young men's 470 crew of Paul Snow-Hansen and Jason Saunders were nicely positioned but fell away and finished fifth.

Hamish Pepper and Jim Turner (fifth in the Star) and Dan Slater (seventh in the Finn) were credible but would have hoped for more.

There's no doubt Yachting New Zealand will go to the funding discussion table in a good position.

They were the third-best funded sport for London with $11.3 million in taxpayer money - behind only rowing and cycling - and they delivered two medals, one of them gold. It was their best return since Barcelona in 1992.

Weymouth conditions were always going to suit them and this was a talented squad. The winds in Rio will be lighter and tougher for the Kiwis, and there is a nagging feeling they didn't quite make hay at these Games.

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While there was success on the water, it was a shame that Yachting New Zealand wasn't able to fully capitalise on the PR opportunity this week. The older, more experienced crews were always obliging but some of the younger ones were overly protected.

For a sport which has one real crack at publicity every four years, and for a sport which received so much public funding, it was disappointing. The public identifies with people, not boats.

- Fairfax Media

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