Kiwi Duo Back in the Saddle

Published on February 4th, 2019

Succeeding at the Olympic Games requires constant and quality training, which in the winter finds South Florida as a major hub for international and North American campaigners. And to put training to the test, 30 years ago was launched what is now known as the World Cup Series Miami.

But some elite sailors opted for other choices in 2019, one of which was Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta on January 31 to February 3 in Auckland, New Zealand. With so much of the Olympic competition in Europe, many of the teams from the Southern Hemisphere preferred a local option before the grind of summer travel commences.

Highlighting this option was the return of the Kiwi duo of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, who will be juggling their defense of the America’s Cup with Emirates Team New Zealand alongside their defense of winning the 49er event at Rio 2016.

It would be their first return to the Olympic scene since the Games, prompting a competitive 16-both fleet with arguably the strongest New Zealand depth ever, as well as a handful of international crews seeking time against the returning champions.

Were there any butterflies? “Not really,” remarked Tuke, a 4-time world champion and double Olympic medalist with Burliing in the 49er. “Just trying to remember how to do things, get into routines. It’s been a while since we raced one of these boats.

“We have been looking forward to getting proper racing again for a while,” said Tuke. “The last few months we have been back into it and it’s nice to get this under our belts, but we have a long way to go to get back to where we want to.”

The convenience and fleet quality offered a good test for their first outing.

“It’s been really cool to do a regatta down here and it’s great to have such a high calibre fleet here in NZ,” said Burling following their win. “When you’ve done so much of it, some things come back but there are other things you have to try to remember and each day we are remembering more and getting better.

“At the end of the day you need to put in a lot of time and that’s we’ve been doing over the last four or five months. We want to get back to the level we were and go beyond that and there’s quite a bit of work to do before we do that.”

They will soon head to Europe to measure themselves against the rest of the 49er fleet, starting with April’s Princess Sofia regatta in Palma, Spain

“We have a list of things to work on before racing in Europe and we will just try to progress,” admits Burling. “It’s about trying to get all the little details in place right now and keep pushing hard.”

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