A team on the water since 2008, and arguably one of the sport’s most successful pairings, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke joined SailGP in August 2020, when they were announced as Co-CEOs of the newly formed New Zealand team.
Growing up in the Bay of Islands, New Zealand, Tuke took to the water from a young age and had his first boat, a P-Class that came as a Christmas gift, at age 11. Commuting to school by speed boat at times, Tuke learned to sail at the Kerikeri High School sailing academy and competed in his first race in 2002.
By 2006, at his third attempt at the Splash world championship, Tuke won his first world title at 17 years old. He also competed at two youth world championships in the 29er class.
After a 2008 Olympic campaign in the two-person Tornado, in which he failed to qualify, Tuke received an email from Peter Burling, his former competitor in the 420 class. Tuke was intrigued by Burling’s proposition for the pair to team up in the 49er and the rest is history, literally.
One of the sport’s most dominant duos, Burling and Tuke have won six world championship titles (including four in a row from 2013-2016), two world championship silver medals, Olympic gold and silver, and the 2017 America’s Cup crown. No other team has won more than three world titles in the class.
Their silver medal at the 2012 Olympics in London marked New Zealand’s 100th Olympic medal. Four years later, after winning more than two dozen major regattas along the way, they were named New Zealand’s flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony in Rio. They went on to claim gold there, winning by a 43-point margin, the highest of any sailing class at the Olympics in more than 50 years.
Together they were named Rolex World Sailor of the Year in 2015.
Outside of his partnership with Burling, Tuke won the 2006 Splash world title and 2009 29er world title, plus world championship silver in the A-Class in 2014 and bronze in the A-Class in 2018. He also finished second in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race on Mapfre – one place in front of Burling.
The duo will be seeking their second America’s Cup title in March 2021 on home waters in Auckland, before aiming for a return to the top of the podium at the postponed Olympic Games in Tokyo.
Tuke has been described by his Olympic coach as the most socially astute person he has ever come across. The third of four boys, Tuke grew up playing rugby until age 15 when he gave it up to dedicate more time to sailing. When he is not sailing, he can still be found in or on the water pursuing his love for sailing and spearfishing. His greatest passion, however, lies in preserving the ocean for future generations.