A conversation with Blair Tuke
Published on November 12th, 2022
Blair Tuke is a sailing legend in his native New Zealand. The three-time Olympic medalist, who claimed gold in the 49er class at the Rio 2016 Games, is also an eight-time world champion and two-time America’s Cup winner. So what does it take to be at the top of the sport for so long? How does he train on land for his competitions on water, and has Tuke ever capsized into shark infested waters?
These are some of the most-asked-questions that the 33-year old sailor answered for Olympics.com, ahead of the SailGP series event in Dubai alongside Olympic teammate Peter Burling.
Is there any dry training you do to simulate being on the water?
In the Olympic sailing we did in the 49er, no, it was all on the water. All the training happened out on the ocean. But with some of the other forms of sailing we do, like the America’s Cup or here at Sail GP we use a simulator, a really efficient way to try and get a lot of the motor skills to control the boat, we go through a lot of different testing, so absolutely we use simulation.
How many hours do you train in a week?
When we’re Olympic sailing we do our training in blocks, so a training block would be five days a week, and each training session on the water would be 2-3 hours, pretty short and sharp.
What kind of nutrition do you follow?
For me, I run a pretty much whole food, vegetarian diet, due to climate reasons. I adopted that about three years ago, before the Tokyo Olympics, and I think for my performance and how my body feels I really get a lot out of that.
What does it take to be an Olympic sailor?
The level of Olympic sailing is really really high, so you have to be in there for the long game, set yourself up for the next Olympics or maybe even the one after that, and then get ready to get in the grind. You’ve got to make incremental gains to get to the top, and of course enjoy the journey.
What’s your usual pre-race routine?
My morning routine is pretty relaxed. Stretching, a bit of core work, listen to some music. That’s about it.
What’s the fastest speed you’ve ever reached on a sailing yacht?
The fastest I’ve ever gone was in the Americas cup boat in 2021, in New Zealand, we went just over 100 kilometers an hour, so like 54 knots, so pretty fast. Also in the 49er when you’re on the trapeze, real close to the water, going 25 odd knots, that feels pretty fast, so it’s all relative I guess.
Have you ever capsized in shark-infested waters?
One thing’s for sure, I’ve definitely capsized a lot, I don’t think they’ve been in shark-infested waters, but you never really know. Sharks are everywhere… but they’re your friends in the Ocean I guess.