Jo Aleh is used to standing out from the crowd. She is the top-ranked New Zealand female in her one-woman sailing event, and number four in the world. And being the daughter of an Israeli father and Kiwi mother who made aliyah, Aleh is also the only Jewish athlete on the Kiwi Olympic team, and a first-timer at the games, having won a silver in the pre-Olympics regatta in 2007.
Today, she sailed into second place, finishing fourth overall in the Laser Radial event, putting her in spitting position of first place in tomorrow’s race in Qingdao’s Fushan Bay. This is a huge turn of fortune for Aleh, as she had finished in 22nd place in the opening race. Aleh’s accomplishments are all the more noteworthy given the fact that there are fewer than 10,000 Kiwi Jews, 0.2 percent of New Zealand’s four million people.
In other Jewish sailing news, Nike Kornicki and Vered Buskila, Israel’s representatives in the women’s 470 Class sailing competition finished their two races on Friday in third and first place. The results place the pair in third place overall, with a handy lead over their competitors in the race for a medal.
On the men’s side, Israel’s Shahar Zubari, of Eilat, is still in first place. The windsurfing sabra holds a solid lead at the end of five races — despite coming in 17th in today’s race. Zubari was able to waive his worst result, and since he previously came in first in one race and third in another, he appears to be the Israeli delegation’s only real hope for an Olympic medal.