Peter Burling gets a wet welcome to offshore racing aboard the Cookson 50, Pretty Fly III cresting the big seas passing Tasman Island - 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart
Red Bull Youth America's Cup winners and New Zealand Sailors of the Year, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, were almost inseparable at the finish of the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart, despite being on different boats – one almost twice the size of the other.
They finished just over three days after the race started in Sydney and were only a few metres apart in what proved to be a blanket finish for the two New Zealander who are the current World and European Champions in the Olympic 49er class, as well as having won the inaugural Red Bull Youth America’s Cup in San Francisco in August.
Those wins sit very comfortably alongside their Silver medal won in the 2012 Sailing Olympics. Small wonder their names are the tips of most pundits’ tongues when the options are considered for maintaining New Zealand’s long and proud legacy in the Volvo Ocean Race and America’s Cup.
At the age of just 21years old, Burling sailed his second Olympics in Weymouth.
Sail-World caught up with the duo ahead of the 2013 Rolex Sydney Hobart – Burling is ailing aboard the Cookson 50, Pretty Fly III, formerly the Auckland owned, Pussy Galore – where she enjoyed an impressive racing record in the hands of Anatole Masfen. Now owned by Colin and Gladys Woods finished second in IRC Division 0 in the 2010 event.
Burling was clear on his reasons for making a move into offshore racing, after a very successful and intense year.
'This year we have been doing a lot of yachting,' he explained. 'We’re always trying to learn new skills from different areas of the sport.
'Ocean racing is always something I have been pretty interested in. It is the ultimate endurance test.
'The Sydney Hobart is a short race compared to a Volvo – with its 20 day plus legs.
'The Volvo is one of the things I would like to do in the future, once I have a bit of experience and a foot in the door', he added.
In ocean racing terms, forward hand Blair Tuke is more experienced than Burling, with a previous Sydney Hobart on his regatta card, and several other ocean races.
He competed in the 2012 Rolex Sydney Hobart aboard the RP45, Rikki, owned skippered by fellow NZ Sailor of the Year, Ray Haslar. But this year he will step up to the 100ft Farr 100 superyacht Zefiro owned by Maltese based German businessman Gerhard Ruether.
'This is my second Sydney Hobart. We have a good group of guys on board, mostly off V5 (Auckland based TP52 winner of the last Noumea and Fiji races) who I sailed with on the Fiji race.
'Mike Quilter is going with us, and it is a real honour to sail with him. He’s one of the legends of ocean racing in New Zealand.
'When that is done we’ll come back to Auckland and get into the A-class catamarans for the Worlds in Takapuna,' he added.
Many see the World Champions’ foray into ocean racing as a precursor to the Volvo Ocean Race.
'I love offshore racing,' Tuke explains. 'This is Pete’s first time offshore, it will be good to see if he enjoys it. I’ve done one Sydney Hobart and been to Fiji three or four times. I really enjoy it. It is fun pushing the boat hard for 24 hours, for day after day. At some stage I would love to do the Volvo Ocean Race.
'Just when that is – we’ll have to wait and see', he adds.
'Pete and I have sailed together for five and a half years now and the more we sail together the stronger our relationship has become. We enjoy hanging out with each other - not just when we are racing, but doing other stuff as well.
'We both have a similar drive to try and be the best All those things add up when things aren’t going so well. It makes it a little easier.'
At the finish of the 630nm blue water Classic, the two were just metres apart despite the huge discrepancy in size between the two yachts. Pretty Fly III finished second in Division 0 on IRC and was expecting to be fifth overall – depending on the finish times of other boats still at sea.