Kiwi sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke continue to rack up the accolades, capturing world yachting's top honour overnight.

The pair, who have dominated the 49er class for the past three seasons, picked up the Rolex World Sailor of the Year award in a ceremony in Sanya, China on the back of another unbeaten year in the Olympic class. Burling and Tuke have not been beaten since picking up the silver medal at the 2012 Olympics, going on to rack up 21 straight regatta victories over that time.

"It is a really big honour for us to win this award," Tuke said. " We don't sail and race to win these awards, but it is really nice to get these accolades for all the hard work we put in. We are really proud to have won."

With the impressive duo chasing win number 22 and a third straight world title in Argentina this week, they were unable to attend the ceremony in China.

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Also named as finalists for the honour in 2014, Burling and Tuke were pipped for the title last year by Australian Jimmy Spithill for his America's Cup achievements.

They saw off strong competition to take out the prestigious award, with British sailor Ian Walker, the victorious skipper of Abu Dhabi in the 2014-15 Volvo Ocean Racing, and French multihull racer Loick Peyron among those nominated this year.

"All the nominees have achieved some awesome things this year in our sport, especially Ian Walker for winning the Volvo Ocean Race," Tuke said. "We've been working hard all year and the results have come our way, not only in the 49er, but also in the other boats we sail. So we are looking ahead, keeping the hammer down towards the Olympics and then to bringing the [America's] Cup back to New Zealand."

Alongside their Olympic campaign Burling and Tuke have become the leading lights of Emirates Team New Zealand, helping the Kiwi syndicate to the overall lead in the America's Cup World Series this year. Burling also dominated the Moth World Championships early in 2015 to take the title with Tuke following in sixth.

The ISAF World Sailor Awards were launched in 1994, and just four other New Zealanders feature in the previous winners list. They include Jo Aleh and Polly Powrie in 2013 (New Zealand's first ever winners in the female category), Sir Russell Coutts who has won ISAF Male Sailor of the Year twice, in 1995 and 2003, Mike Sanderson (2006) and Sir Peter Blake (1994).