Peter Burling’s love affair with Bermuda set to be resumed
The formidable duo of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke will make their SailGP debut at the same racing venue where they helped to guide Emirates Team New Zealand to America’s Cup glory.
Challenger Team New Zealand romped to a convincing 7-1 victory over defender Oracle Team USA at the 35th America’s Cup, which Bermuda hosted in 2017, with helmsman Burling and flight controller Tuke playing integral roles in their team’s success.
They will be now keen to pick up where they left off when the island hosts the 2021 SailGP season opener and inaugural Bermuda Grand Prix presented by Hamilton Princess & Beach Club on April 24 and 25, with all racing to take place in the Great Sound.
Burling, the youngest helmsman to win the America’s Cup and 2017 ISAF World Sailor of the Year, and Tuke have won a staggering nine world titles and two Olympic medals, including gold in the 49er class, competing together in various classes.
As such, expectations will again be extremely high for them come April.
The pair will be joined by Andy Maloney, Josh Junior, Marcus Hansen, Louis Sinclair, Liv Mackay and Erica Dawson, who make up the rest of New Zealand SailGP Team.
The SailGP newcomers have added incentive, as they are competing in support of their Race for the Future charity partner Live Ocean, the marine conservation organisation founded by Burling and Tuke.
“We're pretty lucky with the SailGP and the team we have at Live Ocean,” Burling told 1 News in New Zealand. “There's people there doing a heck of a lot of hard work to keep it all going while we're 100 per cent focused on what's going on with the build-up to the Cup."
The SailGP championship is contested in the same wing-sailed foiling F50 catamaran designed for and raced at the 35th America’s Cup, which have since been modified.
“With the SailGP, everyone's in identical boats so it's a chance to sail against some of the best sailors in the world," Burling added.
Dubbed as the fastest sail race boat in the world, the high-performance F50 catamaran is the first boat to hit 50 knots during racing and was crowned World Sailing’s 2019 Boat of the Year.
Bermuda sailor Emily Nagel and her Great Britain SailGP Team colleagues achieved the historic feat of breaking the sport’s elusive 50kt speed barrier during training ahead of the Cowes SailGP event, which they hosted in August 2019.
The team’s F50 was clocked travelling at a record speed of 50.22kts (58mph or 93km/h).
SailGP, cofounded by software billionaire Larry Ellison, involves eight national teams boasting 18 sailors with Olympic medals.
Each grand-prix event includes two competition days, featuring five fleet races leading to a final match race between the two leaders. Points are accumulated at each event throughout the season, culminating in a $1 million winner-takes-all championship race at the Grand Final.
Burling and Tuke are involved with Emirates Team New Zealand at the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland, New Zealand.
The hosts will face the winner of the Prada Cup challengers series final between INEOS Team UK, headed up multiple Olympic and Bermuda Gold Cup champion Ben Ainslie, and Italy’s Luna Rossa led by Jimmy Spithill, the former Oracle helmsman.