Tuke the 'brains' behind cup push

By Cameron Leslie

More could be read into Northland's Blair Tuke being named as New Zealand's Youth America's Cup tactician.

The 23-year-old Tuke will be the brains behind New Zealand's push to be crowned Youth America's Cup champions at the inaugural Red Bull Youth America's Cup in San Francisco this September.

And, even better news for Tuke, who was recently crowned national champion in the A-Class catamaran and sailed his first Sydney to Hobart race in December, he won't be the only Northlander on the team.

Alongside Tuke will be Andy Maloney, who grew up sailing Northland waters, as part of the seven-strong team which is spearheaded by Tuke's fellow London 2012 silver medallist Peter Burling.

The two-time Olympian Burling will play a pivotal role heading up the team as skipper and helmsman. The 22-year-old Kiwi has already had a taste of the action having helmed an AC45 catamaran for Team Korea in San Francisco in September last year, providing the team a potential edge over other entries.

Burling said all seven sailors were delighted to be selected for the highly coveted positions on the team and ready to embrace the opportunity now open to them.

"I'm really confident that we have a great group of guys together," said Burling. "We've had great input from some of the Emirates Team New Zealand guys including Joey Allen and Glen Ashby, which has been awesome. Plus we've had the bonus of some training time on an ETNZ AC45 already, which is invaluable."

Three of the sailors are existing members of the NZL Sailing Team, New Zealand's top-tier Olympic campaigners. Laser sailors Maloney, Sam Meech and Olympic 470 sailor Jason Saunders have all been named on the NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand.

The 22-year-old Maloney not only delivered a Laser World Championship podium finish last year with a bronze medal, but additionally brings multihull experience having raced recent international Extreme 40 events with the Oman Air team.

The Red Bull Youth America's Cup is a four-day regatta from September 1-7 in San Francisco featuring national teams of six sailors racing in AC45 catamarans, the same boats used for the America's Cup World Series regattas which have captivated global audiences.

Eligible sailors must hold a national passport and be aged between 19 and 24, and those named in the NZL Sailing Team with Emirates Team New Zealand have been chosen after an application and selection process which was a collaborative effort between Yachting New Zealand and Emirates Team New Zealand.

Tuke said on his Facebook page: "Very cool to be named alongside some good mates and awesome sailors in the 'NZL Sailing Team with ETNZ' team to challenge for the Redbull Youth America's Cup this September in San Fran."

- Northern Advocate

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