Sail-World's Publisher Rob Kothe, caught up with NZL Sailing team member, Peter Burling, at the International Moth Worlds. Burling is taking a busman's holiday from his, and crew Blair Tuke's, 49er campaign, by competing in the foiling Moth World's being staged on Lake Macquarie, Australia.
Burling, was New Zealand's youngest ever sailing Olympian (and probably ever in the modern sailing Olympics), when he competed in the 470 class in Qingdao in 2008, finishing 11th overall in the 470 class.
Rob: You were just 17 years old at the Qingdao Olympics? Peter:
Yes. It was good experience when you are pretty young. I learnt a bit more about what it took to get to the top of a four year campaign.
Rob: So you are working hard on that journey? Peter:
Yes. I have moved to a 49 and now I am doing a lot of training in that. Just trying to build up to the 2012 Olympic Games. I am slowly getting better. My ranking is going up which is good.
We managed a pretty good result in Sail Melbourne. At times we managed to beat Nate and Goobs, (Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen the current 49er World Champions) which I was pretty happy about. It was the first time I have managed to do that.
SPARC, through Yachting New Zealand is helping us out a lot, which is good. I suppose the only thing that is hurting our funding at the moment is the Worlds at the very start of the year, as quite a lot of our funding comes off that. We ended up having a pretty bad result.
Training wise ... I almost live in Australia at the moment. I was just swinging home after Sail Melbourne, a week before I came over for this (Worlds). I am obviously doing the Moths Worlds for a bit of cross training and then I am going to come back a week after I get home again for some 49er training with Nate and Goobs. I’ve been training with the Moth Squad - that includes Nathan, Iain, Tom Slingsby, Joe Turner – so I’ve learnt a lot about the Moths quickly, but a lot of other stuff rubs off too.
I am still studying, kind of side school, and I am a year and a half through an engineering degree at Auckland Uni.
Rob: You keep deferring papers? Peter:
Yes. The first year I did the full speed, which was the year after the Olympics and then the year after I did half the full course. I think this year's first semester I am not going to be able to do anything. I might do a couple of papers, we´ll see.
Rob: Do you think maybe it might be after 2012 before it gets finished? Peter:
Yes it´s a four year course anyway. I am going to be in Uni a while before finishing it.
Rob: What are you learning in the Moths? Peter:
I am just really enjoying it. It is one of the few boats where things happen quicker than the 49er. It is really good for having enough time to have a look around. Everything happens so fast so that you just get used to doing everything really fast and making decisions really fast. So when you get back in the 49er you have all this time and you are looking round.
The more you sail a boat the more instinctively everything comes and just the more time you are going to have to look around the course and make the right tactical decision.
The thing I find hard is that it depends on how good your boat handling is as to how you do a good or bad tack, as to whether your thinking is going to work or not - go higher risk or low risk, what mode to sail etc.
Rob: One of the things that you will learn from an Olympic campaign is that the best guys tend to do it pretty low risk. Peter:
Definitely low risk is always the thing you are trying to aim for but it is just how to actually get the low risk. Sometimes being in the corner is the lowest risk options and quite often a less one is in the of the middle of the course and it´s there working through your mind what actually is low risk and how to execute that.
Rob: There is no wake disturbance, is there much air disturbance at this speed? Peter:
There is definitely a lot of air disturbance and one of the key things are your foils and any imperfections on them, just how you are actually sailing the boat and how hard you are working. The harder you hike is pretty much how the faster you go. It is hard to beat people like Tommy and Brad and the Laser boys as they just hike so hard.
Rob: This story is going back to New Zealand. What messages are there in the Moths for the New Zealand sailing community? They should be in it? Peter:
I really enjoy racing them. They are great fun. My dad has got one as well. He is just cruising round and having a bit of fun on it and enjoying. The Moths not really racing as such. The good thing about the boats is there is so many different parts to it and someone can just cruise around and have a really good time.
Rob: Just like in kite surfing.
Peter: Yes just like in kite surfing, wind surfing and things like that. Once you get good there is such a competitive fleet at the top. You get really good racing. Yesterday was one of the top three races. Normally you finish very close together and you will almost be batting the whole way to try and stay in front of someone.
Rob: You are going remarkably well, aren´t you? Peter:
Yes. Everyone seems to have done at least a little sailing n the Moth. When I was counting out the other day there was only about 25 times I had been out.
Rob: So you have just come fourth in the Australian title and you are 20 and with those number of outings. That is pretty good. Peter:
Yes I was pretty happy. The boat handling was going well. I got pretty lucky that a few people got OCS´d in front of me.
Rob: Next 49er are you going to Europe? Peter:
Yes. We are going quite late. We’d rather train in NZ through the early months of the year when it is still quite cold in Europe.
The first one we are going to do is Holland Regatta. Medemblik and then the Sail for Gold at the Olympic venue.
NZL Sailing Team - New Zealand’s National Sailing Team competing in Olympic event regattas - Yachting NZ