Reproduced from Yachting New Zealand
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have sailed in a fair few big regattas in their time and next week’s Hyundai 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 world championships rates highly on their list.
There are a number of reasons for this, not least of all the fact they are sailing at home in a high-stakes regatta, Tokyo is rapidly coming into view and that it will be their first world championships in three years.
Of course, the pair dominated 49er sailing between the London and Rio Olympics, winning four world titles and an Olympic gold medal in the process. They know what it takes to win and are intent on putting it all together over the six days of racing for the world championships.
“It’s pretty big next week,” Tuke said. “It’s about as big as it gets, really – six months out from the Games and for us as Kiwis having an event on your home waters is pretty awesome.
“There’s a lot at stake for a lot of countries here. For us it’s been a while between world champs so we are pretty excited to try to put down a good performance. It’s going to be awesome.”
As many as 412 sailors from 41 countries will compete across the three classes and most took part in the Hyundai Oceania Championships, the three-day warmup regatta that finished today.
Burling and Tuke finished third in the 49er behind Austria’s Benjamin Bildstein and David Hussl, with Diego Botin and Iago Lopez from Spain third. Although results were largely secondary as teams looked to refine their preparations for next week, crews at the pointy end of the fleet will undoubtedly feel happier about life.
It was ideal preparation, especially as it was the first regatta for most since competing in Japan in August and also featured a mixture of conditions.
“It’s been a few months since we have had a high level competition so this has really helped us,” Tuke said. “To get a third is not first but is not bad. We left a lot of points out there. All in all we are pretty happy with how we are going, especially now that we have a few more days. Next week is when it really matters.”
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech aren’t reading too much into their results, either, even though they won the 49erFX fleet at the Oceania championships.
The pair started the day in third and banked the lowest scores among the contenders in the light and tricky sea breeze to finish ahead of Germany’s Tina Lutz and Susann Beucke, with overnight leaders Stephanie Roble and Maggie Shea from the United States in third.
“It’s nice to win the training event but we really see it as training and getting used to racing again and the race courses,” Meech said. “The big one is next week so we’ll be refocusing on that.
“We can see we are going alright in the fleet and some of our routines, like starting, are coming along nicely. It’s a bit of a confidence booster going into worlds.”
Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie felt the same way after finishing fifth in the 49er and New Zealand’s top three Nacra 17 crews all finished in the top 15 in the foiling catamaran.
There’s a sense of anticipation in the boat park at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club now the warmup is out of the way and the main event is just around the corner.
“There are a lot of good boats here and the fleet is always at a really high level,” Burling said. “It’s going to be about who puts together the best week. You can’t really make too many mistakes in these big events if you are going to win. It’s bloody exciting. Where would you rather be?”