Biography

Jo Aleh was born in Auckland in 1986 to an Israeli father (Shuki Shukrun) and British-born mother (Daniella Aleh), a former Israeli soldier. Though she comes from a non-sailing family, Aleh was inspired by the victorious 1995 Team New Zealand in the America’s Cup and sailing became her sport. Soon she was proving herself a champion and she became the first female to win the Tanner Cup, an interprovincial competition sailed in P-class yachts. Her first international competition was the 2002 Cork regatta, in Kingston, Canada, in the Byte Class, where she won the youth and open divisions. In 2007, she broke through by winning the 420 world championships at Takapuna, sailing with Olivia "Polly" Powrie, the first really major success in what became a brilliant partnership. At the 2008 Beijing Olympics, Aleh finished seventh in a field of 28 in the one-woman dinghy – the laser radial. Over the next few years, Aleh and Powrie built a strong record. They were second in the 2010 470 world championships in The Hague, Netherlands, third in the event the following year in Perth, Australia, and fourth in 2012, in Barcelona, Spain. The 2012 Olympic sailing events were held at Weymouth, England, and Aleh and Powrie rose to the occasion to win the gold medal. In a field of 20, their placings were 2-6-2-5-10-4-1-1-2-18-2. After their worst performance was discarded, they finished with 35 points, to head off silver medallists Hannah Mills and Saskia Clark of Britain, who had 51 points. The event was closer than it looks on paper and could have gone either way entering the final day. But the New Zealanders sailed superbly in that final race, while their British rivals floundered. So Aleh and Powrie came through to grab gold. They became the first New Zealand women sailors since Barbara Kendall in 1992 to win an Olympic gold medal. In 2013, Aleh and Powrie confirmed their dominance by winning their second world 470 title, in La Rochelle, France. Aleh, who sails for the Takapuna Boating Club, has been coached since 2009 by Nathan Handley. She is a life member of the Kohimarama Yacht Club, Takapuna Boating Club and Yachting New Zealand. Aleh was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit (MNOZ) in 2013. Aleh and Powrie were named the International Sailing Federation’s Sailors of the Year.

News and Blogs

Joseph Romanos writes: Sailing recaptures its glorious past

11 August 2012

One of the really warming aspects of the 2012 Olympics for New Zealand has been the way sailing has reclaimed some of its former glory.