Emirates pair seal gold with time to spare
Emirates Team New Zealand sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have achieved their mission at the Rio Olympics with a race to spare.
The reigning male ISAF Rolex World Sailor of the Year award winners secured the gold medal in the Men's 49er class on the penultimate day of racing after completing the qualifying series with an unassailable 34-point lead.
Erik Heil and Thomas Plössel, of Germany, and defending champions Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, of Australia were left to battle it out for silver.
Helmsman Burling and crew Tuke were steady throughout the qualifying series, posting three first place finishes and coming in no lower than seventh in the 20-boat fleet in the 12 races contested on the waters of Guanabara Bay.
The pair's gold medal-winning exploits mark the fulfilment of a four-year goal they set for themselves after claiming the silver medal at the previous Olympics in England.
“All the hard work we have done over the past four years is paying off and we managed to put it down on the day, which is exactly what we came here for,” Burling, the youngest helmsman in the present America's Cup cycle, said.
Tuke added: “We are over the moon for it all to come together today, still with the race to spare is just unreal. We are really stoked right now.”
The Kiwi pair have dominated the class since the previous Olympics, reeling off 27 consecutive regatta victories including four world titles.
It was a phenomenal winning streak that ended just before the Olympics at last month's South American Championships in Rio where Outteridge and Jensen savoured their first regatta victory since winning the gold medal in London.
Burling and Tuke are not the only America's Cup sailors to earn gold medals in Rio as Giles Scott, the Land Rover BAR sailor, won the gold medal in the Finn class, which had been dominated by team boss Sir Ben Ainslie up until the previous Olympic regatta held on the English channel.
Local siblings Jesse and Zander Kirkland competed in the high-performance 49er skiff at the 2012 Olympic regatta, while flying the island's flag in Rio this time around were Cecilia Wollmann and Cameron Pimentel, who were both eliminated in the qualifying series in the Women's Laser Radial and Men's Laser classes on their Olympic debuts.