470 dinghies; the type raced by Aleh

Jo Qesem Ayela Aleh, MNZM (born 15 May 1986) is a New Zealand sailor.[2][3] She is a national champion, a former world champion, and an Olympic gold medallist.

Aleh competes in the two-woman 470 dinghy, a double-handed monohull planing dinghy with a centreboard, Bermuda rig, centre sheeting and length overall of 4.70 metres.[2]

Early and personal life

Aleh is Jewish,[4][5] and was born in Auckland, daughter of Israeli father Shuki Shukrun and British-born mother Daniella Aleh, a former Israeli soldier.[1][3] She lives in Auckland where she began a degree in Mechanical Engineering at University of Auckland. But then sailing got in the way, and she moved on to AUT to continue her engineering degree, but then found it too hard to fit sailing and university, so she is currently studying a Bachelor of Information Science at Massey University extramurally.[2]

Aleh was made a Member of the New Zealand Order of Merit in the 2013 New Year's Honours, for her services to sailing.[6]

Sailing career

Just before her ninth birthday, Aleh was impressed by the New Zealand victory in the 1995 America's Cup, and asked her father if she could learn to sail. She did a learn to sail course at the Ponsonby Cruising Club and with the help of her extended family a small sailing dinghy was purchased. She began her competitive career at the age of 11 in an Optimist.[2] Her first competition event was the Auckland Anniversary Regatta, for Kohimarama YC, in 1998.[2]

Jo then made sailing history as the first female to ever win the highly contested Tanner Cup – an interprovincial competition sailed in a P-Class yacht. This was the first time in the history of the event, since its inception in 1945 that a female had ever won the title.

She won the Auckland Optimist Girls' Championship in 2000, in Kohimarama YC.[2] Her first international competition was the 2002 Cork Regatta, in Kingston, Canada, in the Byte Class, where she won both the Youth and Open divisions.[2]

Jo then moved onto the youth classes (under 18) and competed at two ISAF Youth World Championships, finising with a Silver medal in her final year.

Jo then began the road to Beijing, competing in the Laser Radial class (women's single handed class) with a string of successful results including a World Cup event win, and a Silver medal at the Pre-Olympic Test Event in Qingdao, China.

In 2007, she won the 420 World Championships at Takapuna, sailing with Olivia "Polly" Powrie.[2]

She then competed at the 2008 Olympic Games in Women's One-Person Dinghy, coming in seventh.[1]

Aleh and her sailing partner Olivia Polly Powrie won a silver medal in the 470 World Championships in the 2010 ISAF Sailing World Championships in The Hague, Netherlands, and a bronze medal in the 470 World Championships in the 2011 ISAF Sailing World Championships in Perth, Australia. She and Powrie finished fourth at the Barcelona World Championships in May 2012, won the women's 470 class in the World Cup in Weymouth, England, in June 2012, and are the current New Zealand 470 national champions.[3]

In August 2012 she and Powrie won the gold medal in the 470 class at the Olympics Games in Weymouth and Portland, England.

In August 2013, exactly a year after winning their Olympic gold medal, Aleh and Powrie won the world title at the 2013 470 World Championships in La Rochelle, France.[7]

Aleh's highest world rankings have been No. 1 in the Women's Laser Radial (5 March 2008), and No. 1 in the Women's 470 (2013).[2] She now primarily sails a 470[2] with the Auckland yacht club known as the Takapuna Boating Club.[2] Her coach since 2009 has been Nathan Handley.[2]

Jo is a life member of the Kohimarama Yacht Club, Takapuna Boating Club and Yachting New Zealand, and is a current member of the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron.


  1. ^ a b c d "Jo Aleh Biography and Olympic Results| Olympics at". Sports-reference.com. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  2. ^ a b c d e f g h i j k l m n o p q r "ISAF: Sailor Biography". Sailing.org. 15 May 1986. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  3. ^ a b c Bloom, Nate. "Interfaith Celebrities: Batman and the Olympics". InterfaithFamily.com. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  4. ^ ".". Jewish Sports Review. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  5. ^ Goldberg, Dan (10 August 2012). "Gold for New Zealand Jewish sailor Jo Aleh". Jewish Telegraphic Agency. Retrieved 7 April 2014. 
  6. ^ "New Year Honours List 2013". Department of the Prime Minister and Cabinet. 31 December 2012. Retrieved 31 December 2012. 
  7. ^ NZ yachties add world title to Olympic gold, 11 August 2013, Stuff.co.nz