New Zealand top sailor Peter Burling has surprised the sailing world by joining up for some boat racing in the TP52 Super Series.
The series is considered the crème de la crème of the monohull set and it would seem as though Burling wants to get some racing in as preparation for the 2021 America’s Cup, which following the Kiwi victory in 2017, will switch to monohulls of the foiling variety for the race in the waters off New Zealand.
Burling finished third in the Volvo Ocean Race this summer, so he knows a thing or two about monohulls, but he could not resist the temptation to gain some additional time on the more traditional style of sailing vessel.
Burling is the World Sailor of the Year, so it was not hard for him to get on a crew. The TP52 Series is held in the Mediterranean, which would certainly seem to hold some appeal.
Burling is also planning on racing in the Tokyo 2020 Olympics and defend the gold medal he won in 2016 at the Rio Olympic Games.
“It is a bit different to what I’ve been doing but it is nice to come in and have a look at the boats and race in the 52 Super Series,” Burling said.
He is performing as the tactician for the British boat Gladiator in the fourth race of the five-race series. Gladiator is not doing so well and Burling can only offer an improvement, provided Gladiator at least maintains buoyancy.
“I have a lot of friends on other boats and it is such a competitive circuit, it is nice to come up and do tactics for the Gladiator,” Burling said.
Gladiator is in last position of the 10-boat fleet contesting the TP52 Series, hampered by being unable to take part in one of the first three rounds.
Jimmy Spithill will not be taking part, as he has an ailing elbow that required surgery prior to the last America’s Cup.