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.
Raised by parents Heather and Richard, who ran a local learn-to-sail program, Peter Burling had his first boat, an Optimist, at 6 years old. He was competing by age 8, entered in his first nationals at 9 and qualified for his first world championship at 11.
The sailing prodigy continued his early success when he won the Optimist nationals at age 12, then the Starling nationals at age 14 and again at 15. His first world title came in the 420 class with Carl Evans when, in 2006 at age 15, Burling became the youngest sailor ever to win the event.
Burling’s rapid ascent in the sport continued when he made his Olympic debut in 2008 in Beijing where, at 17 years old, he became New Zealand’s youngest Olympic sailor. He and Evans finished 11th in the men’s 470.
Later that year, Burling teamed up with Blair Tuke in the 49er for what would prove to be one of the sport’s most dominant duos. They have since 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.
Continuing to make history along the way, Burling was the youngest 49er sailor in the field (21) at the 2012 Olympics in London, where he and Tuke took silver, marking New Zealand’s 100th Olympic medal. Four years later, after winning more than two dozen major regattas, they were named New Zealand’s flag bearers for the Opening Ceremony in Rio. They went on to claim gold there. Then 25, Burling became the youngest Olympic champion in the class. He and Tuke won by a 43-point margin, the highest of any sailing class at the Olympics in more than 50 years.
When Burling led Emirates Team New Zealand to the 2017 America’s Cup title, he became the youngest winning helmsman in the competition’s storied history. A feat he is looking to repeat in the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.
Outside of his partnership with Tuke, Burling has also claimed world titles in the 420 (2006, 2007) and International Moth (2015), plus silver in the International Moth (2017) and bronze in the A-Class (2014) and Team Racing World Championship (2009). He also finished third in the 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race on Team Brunel – one place behind Tuke.
Burling was named Rolex World Sailor of the Year with Tuke in 2015 and as an individual in 2017.
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.
Burling is known for his cool, quiet demeanor and ability to remain calm under the most stressful of conditions. He attended Tauranga Boys College with classmate Kane Williamson, now a famed cricketer, before completing the first two years of an engineering degree at the University of Auckland. Outside of sailing, he enjoys cycling, kiteboarding, surfing and fishing.