Kerikeri sailor Blair Tuke wins hearts on Twitter

By Sandy Myhre

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One of the images of Kerikeri sailor Blair Tuke in Rio that has sent Twitter abuzz, where he has officially reached "hunk" status.
One of the images of Kerikeri sailor Blair Tuke in Rio that has sent Twitter abuzz, where he has officially reached "hunk" status.

Olympic silver medallist and now a serious contender for a sailing gold with Peter Burling at the Rio Olympics 2016, Kerikeri's Blair Tuke has become an internet sensation after he helped carry the New Zealand flag into the Maracana Stadium for the opening ceremony.

Tuke - who is co-captain of the NZ team at Rio with Burling - is understood to be single and his internet fame could see him become the most eligible bachelor at the Rio Games.

He has been accorded "hunk" status to the extent he has closed down his Twitter account for the time being. By all accounts he was swamped by fans and is now incommunicado.

One Canadian fan tweeted: "New Zealand put two hot boys in wool capes up front.

Everybody go home, we have a winner." The pair also won hearts across the Tasman: "No! I'm not currently googling New Zealand's male model flag bearers! Gosh!"

Tuke's former teachers at Kerikeri High School say he would take all that in his stride and laugh it off and, if talking is what makes a superstar, he has the credentials.

His school reports mentioned that if he paid more attention in class and stopped talking so much he would do better. But better at what, they didn't say.

Kerikeri High School principal Elizabeth Forgie said he was still talking.

"He has spoken at Kerikeri High School and Okaihau College and he is incredibly generous with the time that he gives back to the school and the sport," she said.

He is a product of the remarkably successfully Kerikeri High School sailing programme.

One of his contemporaries was Andrew Murdoch, the multi-medallist at numerous international championships.

Blair Tuke.
Blair Tuke.

His grandmother, Maxine, said that Tuke was precocious as a child. In fact, the man himself admitted as much after he won the silver medal in London.

"I started from an early age playing rugby with my brothers on the lawn and wanted to be the best. I didn't always want to be in the classroom because I was thinking more about sailing or how the rugby game at lunch time was going to go," Tuke said after winning silver in London 2012.

When he started an electrical apprenticeship, his new boss had no idea how much sailing meant him but he was certainly about to find out.

"He was pretty cool about it," Tuke said, "and backed me the whole way. Now he's really proud of me."

Tuke has had other mentors along the way such as board sailor Bruce Kendall, who showed him how to create balance in his life, Sydney 2000 bronze medal-winner Aaron McIntosh and Whangarei's Mike Sanderson.

- Northern Advocate

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