New Zealand sailing's most celebrated double act are getting used to life on opposite sides.

Olympic gold medallists and America's Cup winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke are back in the country doing the rounds together for a series of promotional commitments, but they will soon to be re-cast as rivals for the upcoming edition of the Volvo Ocean Race, which gets underway in Alicante next month.

Tuke is taking on the gruelling round the world challenge with Spanish team Mapfre, while Burling, his Olympic teammate for nine years, has linked up Dutch outfit Team Brunel.

It sets up an intriguing side battle for the race, with both sailors in with a chance of pulling off the triple crown of Olympic, America's Cup and Volvo Ocean Race wins. No sailor in history has managed to secure the treble.


But the possibility of pulling of the historic first is not a motivating factor for either of the pair.

Burling said what drew him to the challenge was the opportunity to expand his skillset as a sailor.

"We've always been keen to do a little bit more of this side of our sport - a bit more ocean racing. This is a really good way to get into it and I think both of us have kind of seen it as that. It's a really good opportunity to get out there and learn some skills from some pretty experienced guys. I'll definitely be a better yachtie after this."

Tuke said he has had to learn a lot on the fly.

Just two weeks after returning from Bermuda following Team New Zealand's brilliant 7-1 victory over Oracle Team USA in the America's Cup match, the 27-year-old was back on a plane to Europe to commence his training with Mapfre, which is skippered by Xabi Fernandez.

Tuke took full part in the series of warm-up races, referred to as "leg zero", and said so far there have been no unexpected surprises.

"There's little things you pick up every day, but nothing so far has sort of jumped out or scared me that I haven't really expected. It's a learning curve, but it's a good one."

Burling's inclusion in the round the world race came a little later in the piece, only jumping on board with Team Brunel for the third stage of leg zero last month. He will only do selected legs of the race, the details of which are still being worked through.


"I'm definitely doing the start and the legs in and out of Auckland and we're still working out the details for the finish. That's why I was a bit later signing on as I wanted to make sure it was all going to work," said Burling.

"A lot of the other teams manage their crew this way, it's a good way to keep everyone fresh."

Burling and Tuke's ocean racing education is continuing while they are at home, with the pair completing their yacht masters qualification - a requirement to compete in the Volvo Ocean Race - while they are back in New Zealand.

Tomorrow the pair will be back wearing the same t-shirts again when they make an appearance for Team New Zealand at the big protocol reveal for the next America's Cup, before Burling departs for Europe on Sunday, while Tuke will return in the middle of next week.

Volvo Ocean Race


October 22, Alicante


June 2018, The Hague


Lisbon, Cape Town, Melbourne, Hong Kong, Guangzhou, Auckland, Itajai, Newport, Cardiff, Gothenburg.