(Reuters) - Olympic gold medallist and America’s Cup winning helmsman Peter Burling is set to take on the gruelling challenge of round-the-world ocean racing after agreeing to compete for Dutch entry Team Brunel in the Volvo Ocean Race.
Burling, who won Olympic gold in the 49er class at Rio 2016 and became the youngest winning helmsman in America’s Cup history in June, said he was looking forward to the challenge of proving his skills as an offshore sailor.
The prize for swapping the fast 20-minute inshore races he is familiar with for the storm-filled ocean route is a shot at becoming the first individual sailor to win Olympic gold, the America’s Cup and the Volvo Ocean Race.
But the New Zealand native is facing off against his long-term sailing partner, Blair Tuke, who has joined Spanish team Mapfre — one of the favourites for the title. Winning the Volvo would give either of the New Zealanders the “Triple Crown” of sailing’s top events, the race organisers said.
“Every race you do you want to win,” Burling told reporters in Plymouth. “I’ve sailed against Blair a lot ... I think both of us will learn a lot of skills before the next time we sail together and we’ll take on a challenge again together soon.”
The 2017-18 Volvo Ocean Race starts from Alicante, Spain, on Oct. 22 and covers 45,000 nautical miles (83,000 km) around the world, featuring a total of 12 host ports, with Brunel and Mapfre among seven teams confirmed so far.
Writing by Simon Jennings in Bengaluru, additional reporting by Alexander Smith, editing by Larry King