Olympic silver-medallist Peter Burling has America's Cup aspirations and is thrilled to get a taste of the scene in New Zealand colours at the youth regatta in San Francisco in September.
Burling (skipper) and his 49er partner Blair Tuke (tactician) will head a seven-man Kiwi squad for the 12-team youth regatta that is being held between the Louis Vuitton Cup and America's Cup.
Olympic 470 sailor Jason Saunders is in the mix, as is Andy Maloney, who won a bronze medal in the highly competitive Laser class at last year's worlds.
Former Laser world youth champion Sam Meech, match-racer Jono Spurdle, and Guy Endean, who had involvement in Team New Zealand's round-the-world campaign, complete the list of sailors who must be aged between 19 and 24.
The regatta is a new development and one that enthuses Burling, 22, who sees it as another stepping stone for his blossoming career.
"I'd like to do the America's Cup at some stage in the future," said Burling, who likes the way sport's oldest trophy has moved into hi-tech catamarans.
"I think it's awesome . . . I've always been a fan of boats that go fast," Burling said.
Team New Zealand have a direct entry into the youth regatta because of their America's Cup status and have collaborated with Yachting New Zealand over the makeup of the crew.
Burling is no stranger to the 45-foot (14m) catamarans that will be used in the regatta. After his Olympic success he was picked up by Team Korea to skipper their AC45 in the world series event in San Francisco last October.
"They are pretty cool pieces of equipment. I got a good feel for them," he said.
"They are a lot of fun and this really is a great opportunity."
Getting time in the boat as a crew will be the next challenge. Team NZ's AC45 has just been packed up and shipped to Naples for the only world series event before the real cup action starts in the giant 72-footers in San Francisco in July.
The Kiwis will train here in other cats and Burling says fitness work will be crucial, given the physical nature of the boats. They will get into the AC45 in San Francisco "for two or three weeks" before their regatta starts.
Burling is unsure if Korea will contest the Naples warmup event. He heads to Sydney on Wednesday to crew in the world 18-foot skiff championships.
He said he and Tuke had "a lot of opportunities" in front of them in the wake of their Olympic success but they also had to map ahead to the next Games in Rio in 2016.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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