Strength and Jo Aleh & Polly Powrie

How does strength play a part in sailing?
Strength comes into play in multiple ways. There’s the physical intensity required to push the boat around the course as much as possible. Then there’s also the emotional/mental side of the sport that requires you to have a really strong relationship with your team mate.
Do you have different strengths and weaknesses?
In many ways we’re actually opposites, so we complement each other really well. It also means we cover a wide range of technical ability and can cope with anything that’s thrown at us. Each has different roles depending on the situation. Usually one of us is trying to make the boat go as fast as possible, while the other has the tactical vision for where to go next on the course. The roles typically change for going up wind or downwind.
How do you work as a team?
We found we clicked almost instantly. But at the same time we had to work on our relationship. We’ve done a lot work with a sports psychologist and the key is being open and honest with each other. We both approach things quite different, so we need to be able to trust each other and understand how each person operates. We are very close, in many ways we know each other better than we know ourselves.
Tell us what you need to operate at a high level constantly?
Having clear set roles is crucial. This comes back to trust. Things can change so quickly when you’re out on the course. So you need to be naturally able to perform in this high level situation. In terms of tactics a huge amount of preplanning is done, but one person will be the main decision maker in a certain situation. Experience is hugely important. It means that you’ve experienced a variety of situations, so when something comes up you just know what to do. In many ways we are constantly tapping into the wealth of information, experience, and knowledge of sailing that the other has available. In terms of physical strength, our class of boat isn’t particularly fast, so we have to work really hard to get around the course quick.
What inspired you to get into sailing?
Jo – I was inspired to become a sailor when I saw the 95 America’s Cup and Sir Peter Blake. I had never done sailing before, but when I saw that, I just knew that that was what I wanted to do.
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