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49er, 49erFX sailors named to NZ Team

Updated: Apr 6

Jo Aleh and Molly Meech
Jo Aleh and Molly Meech are two members of the yachting team named for the Paris Olympics PHOTO: SAILING WORLD

Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie have been named for their first Olympic Games and are determined to stamp their own mark on the boat made famous by Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

McHardie and McKenzie, along with seasoned Olympians Jo Aleh and Molly Meech, have today been named to the New Zealand Team for the Paris 2024 Olympic Games in the 49er and 49erFX classes. 

They were selected at a function at the Royal New Zealand Yacht Squadron and join Tom Saunders (ILCA 7), Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson (Nacra 17), and Veerle ten Have and Josh Armit (windfoil), who were named to the New Zealand Team in March.

McHardie and McKenzie will make their Olympic debut in the 49er class (men's skiff), following Burling and Tuke's gold and two silver medals in the class at the last three Olympics.

With the veteran crew not campaigning this Olympic cycle, McHardie and McKenzie have established themselves as one of the leading 49er outfits in the world over the last 12 months.

Last year, they won bronze at the Princess Sofia Regatta and the European championships, either side of top-six finishes at the Olympic test event, the French Olympic Week regatta, and the Sailing World Championships.

They have been selected following a close-fought battle with training partners Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn, who were forced to abandon their campaign a few weeks ago after Dunning Beck suffered a serious injury only days before the final Olympic trial.

"Being selected for the Olympics is a dream come true and we are honoured to represent New Zealand on sailing's biggest stage," McHardie said. "We would like to acknowledge the hard work of many people to get us here, including Logan and Oscar who pushed us all the way. We wish Logan a speedy recovery." 

The pair are hoping to continue where Burling and Tuke left off in Tokyo when they line up in Marseille, where the Olympic sailing will be contested from July 28 to August 8.

"We grew up watching Pete and Blair achieve incredible results in the class and we appreciate their willingness to share some of their experience and advice with us and other teams through the years," McKenzie said.

"They have left big shoes to fill but we are confident that, with the support of our amazing coaches and the rest of the New Zealand Olympic team, we can do them and the country proud in Marseille."

Between Aleh and Meech, they have competed at seven Olympics, but at Paris 2024, they will sail together in the 49erFX (Women's Skiff) for the first time at an Olympic Games.

Aleh is a double Olympic medallist - winning gold in the women's 470 class with Polly Powrie in London in 2012, and silver four years later in Rio. She teamed up with Meech in early 2022, after taking a five-year break from competitive sailing.

She's as excited about attending her fourth Games as she was her first.

"Having started my Olympic journey in the Laser Radial (ILCA 6) back in Beijing, I’m happy to be sailing a faster boat each time and I am absolutely loving taking on the 49erFX with Molly and the challenge it brings," Aleh said.

"After watching from the coach boat in Tokyo [where she coached Wilkinson and Dawson], I am looking forward to being back on the racecourse and doing what I love."

Aleh and Meech are currently competing at the 2024 Princess Sofia Regatta in Spain and were unable to attend the announcement in person.

"We've been pushing hard to achieve the goals Jo and I have set for ourselves, and we will continue to do just that in the coming months," said Meech, who won 49erFX silver with Alex Maloney in Rio de Janeiro in 2016.

"I feel really lucky to be heading to my third Olympics and I can't wait to wear that fern again and represent my country."


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