Why Burling and Tuke were always destined for greatness
Sailjuice.com's editor Andy Rice has been following the progress of Pete Burling and Blair Tuke closely, ever since they won silver at the London 2012 Olympics.
Last year Andy interviewed the Kiwis in the build-up to the Rio 2016 Games, which they went on to dominate. Now they're the youngest winners of the America's Cup.
Here's an excerpt from that article, originally published in Yachts & Yachting in 2016.
Few Olympic sailors ever dominate their sport. Unstoppable talents like Ben Ainslie are more rare than hens’ teeth, but New Zealand currently has two of them: Pete Burling and Blair Tuke. The last time the young Kiwis were beaten in a 49er regatta was when they took the silver medal at London 2012 behind the Australian duo of Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen. Their unbroken winning streak now stretches back more than three and a half years and across 23 major international regattas, including the past four World Championships. Around two-thirds of those victories have been wrapped up with at least a race to spare.
Perhaps the most breathtaking victory was when they missed the first day of a regatta in Rio to attend the Rolex Yachtsman of the Year awards ceremony across the Atlantic. After a boozy evening and a long flight from Europe to Brazil they jumped off the plane and went racing. Even though they started the regatta with three DNCs on their scoresheet, Burling and Tuke went on to win the competition, again. No wonder the opposition is spooked. Most 49er teams will be going to Rio 2016 this summer believing that the best they can hope for is a silver-coloured medal. Gold looks as though it’s gone already.
So what makes them so good? It’s the question that has been vexing the whole 49er world for the past three years, and there’s no obvious or straightforward answer. To look at the size of Burling, skinny but still muscular and comfortably over 6ft tall, he looks too big to be a 49er skipper. If he bulked up a bit, he’d look perfect for the Finn. Tuke’s not exactly small either, but the perception was that they’d be slow in light winds. Unfortunately for the opposition, they’re not. They don’t appear to have a weakness and, just when their rivals think they might have caught up on the Kiwis, they make another leap forwards.