WEYMOUTH, GBR (#1233) – Peter Burling and Blair Tuke (NZL) just served notice that they’re not going to relinquish their Olympic crown without a fight. The Kiwis proved once again how formidable they are by winning the 49er European Championships on Sunday. It was just their third international event since jumping back in their high-performance skiff following their stunning America’s Cup victory with Emirates Team New Zealand in 2017 and then their debuts in the Volvo Ocean Race, with different teams. The victory came in a regatta that featured all the world’s top teams and an exhausting seven days of racing.
"It's really pleasing for Pete and I," said Tuke, who teamed with Burling to win the gold medal in the Rio de Janeiro Olympics in 2016 after taking the silver on these same waters in the 2012 Games. "It has been a really long week, lots of races in a variety of conditions. There was quite a lot of wind at the start so we are pretty tired but really stoked to come away with the win from the European championships.
"This has been our third event in a month or so, so we have had a lot of 49er racing lately. We managed to get a few things working a little bit better here. We executed at a better level and got some really nice scores on the board early on and managed to continue that on to the end of the week. It's pleasing to be back on the top of the podium."
Burling and Tuke went into the final day holding a 17-point lead over their nearest rivals but they almost saw that slip away in the final gold fleet race. They found themselves near the back of the fleet in 22nd place in the light conditions as Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell (GBR) scooted away, but clawed their way back impressively to finish ninth and maintain a nine-point lead. It was a significant result because the wind had died completely by the time the top-10 medal race rolled around preventing any further racing.
Fletcher and Bithell finished second while countrymen James Peters and Fynn Sterritt were third.
Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze (BRA) picked up another title in the 49FX, finishing just ahead of world champions Annermiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz (NED).
Also Sunday, 2016 Rio bronze medalist Caleb Paine secured a spot for the United States in the Finn Class at the Tokyo Games as defending gold medalist Giles Scott (GBR) won his third European championship in Athens.
On Saturday, Olympic legend Robert Scheidt (BRA) and crew Henry Boening (BRA) won the Star Sailors League Breeze Grand Slam and European Championship. Second went to Xavier Rohart (FRA) and Pierre Alexis Ponsot (FRA) while Paul Cayard (USA) and Arthur Lopes (BRA) were third.
Blair Tuke and Peter Burling have returned to dominance in the 49er Class.