Burling and Tuke claim dramatic world champs win

Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have reclaimed their fifth world championship title. Photo: Getty...
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have reclaimed their fifth world championship title. Photo: Getty Images
Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have moved past a hairy moment, wild conditions, and some feisty Germans to claim a fifth 49er sailing world championships in Auckland.

And they believe it's the best of them all.

Leading German pair Erik Heil and Thomas Ploessel by eight points going into the final race, and with double points on offer, it allowed them four places on their nearest rivals in the finale.

The Germans showed their intent early on, consistently within the top two, while the Kiwis sat in behind them, clinging to their lead.

However, with rain starting to pelt down and winds reaching close to 30 knots, Burling and Tuke were forced to show all of their class and experience. Prior to the first gate, the conditions took their toll as Burling slipped, with only some quick reactions - grabbing onto a footstrap - preventing him completely falling in the water.

Gasps and tension immediately rose and filled the Royal Akarana Yacht Club.

"It was just really choppy out there and hard to get the timing right, so it was just a matter of getting around the tillar extension so that we didn't snap it again," Burling explains.

The pair suffered a broken tillar extension in the penultimate gold fleet race, impacting their ability to steer.

While the incident saw them slip to ninth, they then improved up to seventh after the second gate, and then fourth after the third; a position they kept for the rest of the race to claim the crown by six points.

"Everyone makes little mistakes every now and then, so you've just got to get on with the job and make sure you don't make any more. Really proud with how we finished though in really tough conditions - everyone probably went for a swim in the end," Burling added.

Fellow New Zealanders Logan Dunning-Beck and Oscar Gunn crossed in second, to move up to fifth overall.

Tuke believes their own title win though ranks higher than any other previous world title.

"It's definitely the top, no doubt. Racing a world champs on your home waters is right up there with an Olympics," he said.

"They always feel good when you do it in that sort of fashion, when it comes down to the wire. We'd like to have won by more, but you take it any way you can, and we're proud of how we came back at the end."

In the 49er FX, Alex Maloney and Molly Meech wrapped up a frustrating week with a seventh-placed finish in the double points race to finish sixth overall.

Olivia Mackay and Jason Saunders finished the best of the New Zealanders in the Nacra17 in 17th.

But for Burling and Tuke, it's back to work, just six kilometres around Auckland's waterfront, as they now flick the switch back to Team New Zealand, and retaining the Auld Mug.

"But we'll make sure to enjoy this," Tuke emphasises. "It's certainly been pretty special having all of the internationals down here… so we'll make sure we enjoy this and the Christmas break."

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