Peter Burling and Blair Tuke well-positioned to defend Olympic gold after world championship win...
Just under two years ago they were competitors in The Ocean Race, each trying to be the first to claim sailing's Triple Crown - wins in the America's Cup, the Olympic Games and The Ocean Race.
Up until that time, Kiwi sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke had long been uber-successful team mates, dominating the 49er class en route to a gold medal in Rio and following that up with an impressive win with Emirates Team New Zealand in the America's Cup in Bermuda in 2017.
Then Burling signed on with Team Brunel and Tuke joined MAPFRE and suddenly, they were racing against each other in the 2017-18 edition of The Ocean Race.
MAPFRE, Brunel and Dongfeng Race Team would start the final leg of that race equal on points, and both Burling and Tuke were well-positioned to become the first sailor in history to claim the Triple Crown.
But in the end, Dongfeng would take the win, leaving the Triple Crown unclaimed for another edition.
Burling and Tuke subsequently reunited with Emirates Team New Zealand as they prepare to defend the Cup on home waters in early 2021. And the pair started training and racing together again in the 49er class too, with an eye on the Tokyo Olympic Games this summer.
So far it's been smooth sailing for the dynamic duo, who won the 49er World Championships in 2019 and have now followed that up by claiming a class-record sixth title this weekend at the Royal Geelong Yacht Club in Australia.
“We put together a couple of good races this morning so we could be a bit more relaxed in that last one,” Burling said after a dominant day on the water. “Being an Olympic year it’s a good one to win.”
Tuke added: “We’ve really stepped up in some areas this week... We are stoked. It’s only been a couple of months since Auckland but to do it in the Olympic year builds a lot of momentum for us..."
Burling and Tuke have previously expressed interest in taking another run at the Triple Crown but their focus remains firmly on two more immediate goals - another gold medal in the 49ers and a second America's Cup win in Auckland. Everything else will have to wait.
When asked how they will balance an Olympic and America’s Cup campaign for the second time, Tuke commented: “We’ll just keep going as we’ve been going, and enjoying both. We’ve had more than a solid year of doing both campaigns; before Rio (2016) it was the same.”
Cover photo © Jesus Renedo / SAILING ENERGY
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