Dana Johannsen is the NZ Herald's chief sports reporter

Sailing: Kiwi pair not rattled after warm-up loss

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke celebrate on the podium after winning silver in the 49er sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo / Getty Images
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke celebrate on the podium after winning silver in the 49er sailing class at the London 2012 Olympic Games. Photo / Getty Images

The loss that sent shockwaves around the yachting world has barely caused a ripple in the minds of Peter Burling and Blair Tuke as they approach next month's Olympics.

The Kiwi 49er pair's incredible 27-regatta winning streak came to an end earlier this month when they finished third in their final warm-up regatta ahead of the Rio Games. It was the first time Burling and Tuke had been beaten since claiming silver at the London Olympics four years ago.

They were bested at the warm-up event, which was held at the Olympic yachting venue, by Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen - the gold medallists in London - and the Polish crew of Lukasz Przybytek and Pawer Kolodzinski.

The result has shaken up the 49er fleet ahead of the big showdown, removing the sense of predetermination there once was to the gold medal. Now it has been proven Burling and Tuke are beatable, it appears to have emboldened some of their competition, with Outteridge taking to social media to declare the Australians are back on track.

Burling said he isn't bothered if some of his rivals have been given a psychological boost by the Kiwi pair's run of dominance ending.

"We've been saying all along our goal is to go and get the gold in Rio, we're not too worried about the record. We didn't have our minds on the racing and we were trying to sort out a few other things and in a short regatta like that, they can be super close and we didn't quite end up on the right side of it on the last day," he said.

"It's always been about Rio and performing well at the big one in a few weeks time, and we feel like we're in a really good position to do that."

Burling and Tuke were among several crews in the Kiwi sailing team that took the opportunity to return to New Zealand for a couple of weeks to rest and mentally refresh before heading back into the Olympic bubble later this week.

"It's great to get home, it's so much easier to relax and chill out and see family and friends and get your mind clear before we get back into it," said Burling.

"We managed to get a lot of things ticked off and sorted, so when we go back we can get our minds fully into racing mode. It's always tough in our sport balancing everything out, but we're pretty happy with where we're at at the moment."

The New Zealand sailing team will not be staying at the athletes village in Rio, with officials instead opting for private accommodation closer to the Marina da Gloria base where the competition will be run from. Burling said while it will be good to have a quiet base handy to the venue, he doesn't intend on shutting himself off from the rest of the Olympic experience.

"At the Olympics you can get caught up in all the other things, so it will be good to have our own little set-up for the sailing team. We still plan to go along to the opening ceremony and spend some time in the Village as our event doesn't until quite late, so it will be quite cool to experience that buzz and then go back and try and do our own job."

How they shape up


New Zealand's Olympic sailing team:

Josh Junior (Finn)
Sam Meech (Laser)
Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie (women's 470)
Dan Willcox and Paul Snow-Hansen (men's 470)
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech (49er FX)
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (49er)
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders (Nacra 17)
The Olympic sailing programme
Aug 9-15: Laser
Aug 10-16: Finn, Nacra 17
Aug 11-17: men's and women's 470
Aug 12-18: 49er and 49er FX

- NZ Herald

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