Burling and Tuke report on Australia and look to the Bahama Worlds

Peter Burling / Blair Tuke - NZ (49er)competing in Sail Melbourne

Top 49er crew Peter Burling and Blair Tuke report on Sail Melbourne and Sail Sydney Regattas and look ahead to the Worlds in the Bahamas

Hi – update from our 49er Olympic campaign.

We’re just home after a month’s build up in Australia in preparation for the 49er Sailing World Championships, Bahamas Jan 2-9.

Christmas with family - then we fly out early evening on Boxing Day for a week’s acclimatisation before the worlds start.

On November 20th we joined Nathan Outteridge/Iain Jensen, the current 49er World champions, for a training camp in Sydney. Fantastic to be sailing with the world’s best. After an initial hiccup with our mast being delayed getting into Australia, we set up our charter boat and were quickly on the pace. Great having Nathan Handley as our coach for
the Sydney part of the trip.

Our first regatta was the Aussie 49er nationals on Lake Macquarie (1.5 hrs north of Sydney). We stayed with Nathan Outteridge’s parents close to the yacht club. Strong winds prevailed throughout the regatta. Exciting to set a new speed record for us of 23.6 knots over 10 seconds. Winning 3 of the first 4 races was a nice way to start. After 14 extremely close races we finished second to Nathan in a very competitive 16 boat fleet.

Our next stop was the 'Sail Sydney' regatta sailed on Sydney harbour where the large Manly ferries have to be avoided as they come straight through the course. The wind was very shifty due to headlands, with huge pressure differences across
the course. Some lighter wind races allowed us to select sails ready for the Worlds.

29ers and a 49er head towards a ferry on the western side of the Harbour - Sail Sydney 2009
Our highlight here was dominating the first days racing and again finishing 2nd overall. After a couple of days R&R in Sydney - staying at a backbackers at Bondi beach - we drove the 12 hours to Melbourne for the first ISAF World Cup event of the new season. We were staying with friends whose children sail 420’s – they very kindly let us use their car as well.

What a variety of conditions here … Day 1 had Melbourne’s renowned sea breeze, 18 to 20+ knots with big onshore
waves, a real handful avoiding 'going down the mine'- i.e. sticking the bow in downwind while surfing a wave and pitch poling - but great fun.

Day 2 - flat water and under 6 knots while the next day the wind switched to the North (meaning extra buzzy blow flies) but a beautiful breeze, flat water and temperature in the high 30’s – perfect 49er conditions. We were winning plenty of races but also having some unwanted bigger scores. On the final day we won the final double points medal race –just in front of the 3rd placed Australians - to secure our third silver to the World champions over the 3 regattas.

Hope you all have a very Merry Christmas and prosperous New Year.

Our next update will be from the Bahamas at the 49er Worlds.

Cheers Peter and Blair

A victory wave from New Zealand’s Blair Tuke and Peter Burling, crossing the line first in race 2 at the Zhik 49er Australian Championship. Photograph: Haylee Outteridge
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