New Zealand’s Sailing Team is in great shape with 2012 Olympic silver medallists Peter Burling and Blair Tuke today making the announcement that they will campaign again towards the Rio Olympic Games in 2016.
The pair has confirmed that they will continue their partnership in the 49er – the Olympic skiff class.
'We have loved sharing our medals with the New Zealand public, and the reception we got when we returned to New Zealand after the Games was incredible and we are excited to take up the challenge again,' says Blair Tuke, crew on the 49er.
'We are excited to be part of the NZL Sailing Team as we all build on the success from London 2012. It’s a great time to be involved in New Zealand Olympic class sailing with a number of exciting campaigns aiming for the podium in Rio,' says Burling, helm on the 49er.
Yachting New Zealand’s High Performance Director Jez Fanstone is delighted that his silver medal winning crew have affirmed their campaign and will be part of the new look NZL Sailing Team; 'It’s great news that Peter and Blair have confirmed their Rio 2016 campaign and that their goal is to go one better than silver. With both 2012 Olympic medal winning crews back in the NZL Sailing Team it puts us in a really strong position moving forward to Rio. This will positively impact the whole NZL Sailing Team, which will have some fresh faces during this next cycle – the young ones will draw on and learn from their experience.'
Burling and Tuke have taken some time to confirm their intentions, enjoying sailing in a variety of boats since their silver medal performance in August last year.
'It’s not a decision we have taken lightly. We understand that we have opportunities in professional sailing but to try and stand on the top of the Olympic podium is a goal we have both had for a long time and we see Rio 2016 as the best chance we have in achieving that,' explains Tuke.
Other sailing opportunities have already come their way and the calendar for 2013 won’t be strictly 49er sailing. Together Burling and Tuke will lead the NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand, as skipper and tactician respectively, set to sail an AC45 catamaran in Red Bull Youth America’s Cup Regatta in San Francisco from September 1st – fourth.
The Extreme 40 Series has also beckoned with the pair winging off to Muscat, Oman in early March for Round 1 of the Extreme Sailing Series for Team Korea.
However, Tuke concedes that the 2013 49er World Championships is the main goal. By the time it rolls around at the end of September (21st -28th) in Marseille, France they plan to bring their A-game. 'The 49er World Champs is definitely the pinnacle regatta for us this year and we want to be back in top form by then. We know that we can’t just do the same things we did last time and expect to be at the top of the fleet, everyone else will be upping their game, and we need to do the same. One of the reasons we have been sailing in plenty of other high performance classes since the games is to become better sailors and learn new things that we can bring to the 49er'.
While it’s hard to imagine these sailors fitting anything else in alongside their busy training and sailing programme, both Burling and Tuke are reaching other milestones too.
Tuke left school at 17, undertaking an Electrical Apprenticeship focussing on this full-time for two years initially. While it went on the side burner before London 2012, Tuke is currently completing some final paperwork and he hopes to be a qualified Electrician by May.
Burling similarly has juggled his sailing career with his education goals. This year he will continue his quest towards a Mechanical Engineering degree by taking on some more second and third year papers.
by Kristine Lederis, Yachting NZ
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7:46 PM Tue 19 Mar 2013GMT
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