Burling and Tuke: The Dominant Duo

Published on July 1st, 2016

Four-time 49er World Champions Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are about the closest thing you get to a sure thing in sailing. The pair head to the Rio Games as one of New Zealand’s top medal hopes, having not been beaten since claiming silver in the high performance skiff class at the London Olympics four years ago.

In all, Burling and Tuke have amassed 27 straight wins – a run of dominance that is unprecedented for a sport that throws so many variables at competitors from race to race and event to event. But for them win number 28 is the only one that matters. Olympic gold.

The New Zealand Herald joined them out on the water in Kerikeri’s Apple Tree Bay – Tuke’s home waters – during an intensive training block. While the pair are exceptionally gifted sailors, Burling says to stay at the top of the class it takes a lot more than just talent.

“A lot of our sport is about making better decisions than everyone else, from how you set the boat up to what you do out on the race course,” he says. “For us that means hours of tuning the boats, learning about the settings and the equipment and the gear. Once you actually get on the race course you’ve got to sail fast, but also in the right direction, so a lot of time goes into thinking about situations and scenarios as to what best to do in those situations for the risk-reward.”

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