At times, it was like they had never been away but Peter Burling and Blair Tuke didn’t have it all their own way on the first day of the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta in Auckland today.
The Olympic and four-time 49er world champions made an impressive return to competition today and ended up in a spot they’re familiar with – first.
They won their first race of the day and backed it up with a second, first and fourth to leave them one point ahead of promising duo Isaac McHardie and William McKenzie, with fellow Kiwis Josh Porebski and Trent Rippey a further seven points behind in third.
“It was good,” Tuke said as he reflected on their first regatta in the 49er since winning gold at the Rio Olympics. “We have been looking forward to getting proper racing again for a while.
“The last few months we have been back into it and it’s nice to get this under our belts. We have a long way to go to get back to where we want to, but it was fun. It was a really good day.”
It was also a really long one, with a lengthy delay initially due to light winds which meant many of the boats didn’t return to the Royal Akarana Yacht Club until after 6.30pm.
It was also tight at the top of the Nacra 17 fleet, with Gemma Jones and Jason Saunders level on points with Liv Mackay and Micah Wilkinson, and there was also some intense racing in the youth classes with selection in the New Zealand Sailing Foundation Youth Team to compete at this year’s youth sailing world championships on the line.
Paul Snow-Hansen and Dan Willcox hold a slim lead over Susannah Pyatt and Brianna Reynolds-Smith in the 470, local Dave Ridley leads the Laser fleet and Luke Cashmore opened up an early lead in the Laser Radial.
But most interest was in how Burling and Tuke fared, particularly as they won every major regatta in the 49er in the last Olympic cycle. The pair would have been excused for having some nerves this morning.
“Not really butterflies,” Tuke said, “just trying to remember how to do things, get into routines. It’s been a while since we raced one of these boats.
“When you’ve done so much of it, some things come back but there are other things you have to try to remember and each day we are remembering more and getting better. We want to get back to the level we were and go beyond that and there’s quite a bit of work to do before we do that.”
This year is a significant one for the pair, with the Olympics only 18 months away and a gaggle of other New Zealand 49er crews keen to win the ticket to Tokyo.
Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn were the best performed of the New Zealand crews in 2018 but were forced to retire early today when they broke their mast while leading in the third race and they finished the day in 10th overall.
“It’s a solid enough start,” Tuke remarked. “With four races each day, there’s a long way to go so we need to improve on a few things.”
It would make life difficult for other crews if they did.
Results after day 1 of the Oceanbridge NZL Sailing Regatta at the Royal Akarana Yacht Club today:
49er (16 boats)
1st: Peter Burling / Blair Tuke (NZL) 1 2 1 4 - 8 points
2nd: Isaac McHardie / William Mckenzie (NZL) 2 4 2 1 - 9 pts
3rd: Josh Porebski / Trent Rippey (NZL) 5 3 5 3 - 16 pts
49erFX (4 boats)
1st: Ben Paterson / Sean Paterson (NZL) 3 3 1 1 - 8 pts
2nd: Emma French / Emma Stenhouse (NZL) 2 2 2 2 - 8 pts
2nd: Crystal Sun / Olivia Hobbs (NZL) 4 1 3 3 - 11 pts
29er (7 boats)
1st: Eli Liefting / Jack Frewin (NZL) 1 2 2 3 - 8 pts
2nd: Brayden Hamilton / Pat Morgan (NZL) 2 3 1 4 - 11 pts
3rd: Monty Alderson / Gavin Ninnes (NZL) 3 1 5 2 - 11 pts
Nacra 17 (4 boats)
1st: Liv Mackay / Micah Wilkinson (NZL) 2 2 1 1 - 6 pts
2nd: Gemma Jones / Jason Saunders (NZL) 1 1 2 2 - 6 pts
3rd: Erica Dawson / Henry Haslett (NZL) 3 3 3 3 - 12 pts
Nacra 15 (4 boats)
1st: Helena Sanderson / Jack Honey (NZL) 1 1 1 1 - 4 pts
2nd: Francesco Kayrouz / Carrington Brady (NZL) 2 3 2 2 - 9 pts
3rd: Hamish McLaren / Rebecca Morgan (NZL) 3 2 3 3 - 11 pts
420 (16 boats)
1st: Seb Menzies / Blake McGlashan (NZL) 2 1 1 - 4 pts
2nd: Sunho Kim / Hankyeom Him (KOR) 1 2 6 - 9 pts
3rd: Donguk Kim / Yeongwoo Kim Busan (KOR) 4 4 2 - 10 pts
470 (7 boats)
1st: Paul Snow-Hansen / Dan Willcox (NZL) 5 1 1 - 7 pts
2nd: Susannah Pyatt / Brianna Reynolds Smith (NZL) 2 3 3 - 8 pts
3rd: Jae wan Park Han / Cheol Kyu Chungnam (KOR) 1 6 4 - 11 pts
Laser (6 boats)
1st: Dave Ridley (NZL) 3 2 1 - 6 pts
2nd: Jing Hwan Lee (KOR) 1 3 2 - 6 pts
3rd: Sangkyu Kim (KOR) 7 OCS 1 3 - 11 pts
Laser Radial (22 boats)
1st: Luke Cashmore (NZL) 2 1 2 - 5 pts
2nd: Albert Stanley (NZL) 1 3 3 - 7 pts
3rd: Caleb Armit (NZL) 4 6 1 - 11 pts
Kites (4 kites)
1st: Sam Bullock (NZL) (1) 1 1 1 1 1 (5 pts
2nd: Ben Turner (NZL) 2 2 (3) 2 2 2 - 10 pts
3rd: Michael Pepper (NZL) 3 3 2 4 3 (5 DNC) - 15 pts