Yachting: No rest for Spanish sailors

By Dana Johannsen

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke enjoyed the chance to train with Volvo Ocean Racing crew members. Photo / Greg Bowker
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke enjoyed the chance to train with Volvo Ocean Racing crew members. Photo / Greg Bowker

While many of their counterparts were resting up ahead of the brutal Southern Ocean leg in the Volvo Ocean Race in five days time, Telefonica's Iker Martinez and Xabi Fernandez were back out on the water yesterday.

The Spanish pair took the chance to get in training in the 49er class, taking to the water off Okahu Bay with New Zealand Olympic representatives Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

Knowing Martinez and Fernandez, who are three-time world champions in the class, would be in town for the Auckland stopover, the young Kiwis seized the initiative and arranged a training run with the Spaniards.

Telefonica, which is skippered by Martinez, only arrived in Auckland on Sunday after a gruelling 20-day journey from Sanya, China. They will set sail on leg five to Brazil this weekend, giving the sailors little recovery time.

The Spanish pair, who won gold in the 49er class at the Athens Olympics and silver in Beijing, will be competing at the London Games later this year, just a month after the Volvo Ocean Race is due to finish in Galway, Ireland.

Their goal is to win the round the world race - which they are well on track to doing having won three of the first four legs - then gold in the 49er class in Weymouth.

It is an ambitious ask, but Martinez and Fernandez have proven they are capable of switching between the two campaigns without missing a beat.

In August last year they took a break from their training for the 2011-2012 Volvo Ocean Race and returned to the 49er at the pre-Olympic regatta in Weymouth, over a year since they had last competed in the class.

In one of the most exciting finales of the regatta, Martinez and Fernandez finished on equal points with Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen, who ultimately claimed gold because of a better medal race finish.

Burling and Tuke took out the bronze, after winning the medal race.

Sanya skipper Mike Sanderson, a mentor of Tuke's, was also milling about on shore as the two crews launched their skiffs.

Sanderson rated the young pair as one of New Zealand's strongest medal prospects in London later this year.

"They're doing extremely well - these guys have got the goods," he said.

- NZ Herald

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