Burling and Tuke win 49er European championships
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke took a big step in their comeback to trying to defend their Olympic title when they won the 49er European championships in Weymouth today.
It was the pair’s first international title since their return to the 49er circuit and they did it in only their third international event. It’s an impressive feat so soon after jumping back in the boat, particularly at a regatta that featured all of the world’s top teams and over a mammoth seven days of racing.
The gold medal came on the back of Andy Maloney’s silver at the Finn European championships in Athens yesterday and New Zealand’s Laser squad, which includes world No 1 Sam Meech, begin their European championships in Porto tomorrow.
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 Great Britain’s Dylan Fletcher and Stuart Bithell 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.
“It’s really pleasing for Pete and I,” Tuke said. “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.”
The rest of the strong New Zealand 49er squad weren’t that far off with Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn seventh, Josh Porebski and Trent Rippey 12th and Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie 15th and top under-23 team.
Alex Maloney and Molly Meech just fell short of claiming a medal in the 49erFX. The Olympic silver medallists were third in today’s medal race and finished fourth overall.
Olympic champions Martine Grael and Kahena Kunze picked up another title, just finishing ahead of world champions Annermiek Bekkering and Annette Duetz of the Netherlands.
Maloney and Meech started the week well, finishing in the top five in all but one race in qualifying but had mixed results in gold fleet racing.
“Overall this week we were pretty happy with the way we were sailing but know there’s some improvements to be made,” Maloney said. “One of those is probably our consistency. We scored some really great results but also had some shockers during the event, so there are a few areas we can really fine tune.”
Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders rounded out their racing in the Nacra 17 by finishing second in the medal race and seventh overall. They had a consistently good week, showing good speed in a range of conditions, but just faltered in a couple of races that hampered their overall position.
A handful of crews will compete at next month’s World Cup Series final in Marseille but most now switch their attentions to Japan and the Olympic venue for training and racing.
Results and standings after day 7 of the 49er, 49erFX and Nacra 17 European championships in Weymouth:
49er (98 boats)
1st: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) 3 1 2 1 1 1 1 (9) 5 2 5 13 7 6 4 2 3 6 (19) 9 – 72 pts
2nd: Dylan Fletcher / Stuart Bithell (GBR) 5 1 2 6 6 3 3 (14) 1 7 2 8 5 4 7 1 7 12 (14) 1 – 81 pts
3rd: James Peters / Fynn Sterritt (GBR) 7 9 5 2 2 (24) 4 1 2 3 6 6 (17) 2 14 5 9 1 11 5 – 94 pts
7th: Logan Dunning Beck / Oscar Gunn (NZL) 4 1 1 1 3 (11) 2 3 8 5 4 17 19 11 2 (25) 16 13 7 14 – 131 pts
12th: Josh Porebski / Trent Rippey (NZL) 10 (13) 7 8 11 7 10 (16) 10 3 7 (25) 10 9 8 18 15 2 10 7 – 165 pts
15th: Isaac McHardie / William McKenzie (NZL) 11 (17) 5 11 16 5 10 2 7 2 19 2 (21) 20 13 15 8 7 12 6 – 178 pts
Story: Michael Brown Yachting New Zealand
Photo: Lloyd Images