A Gold Medal Minute With Omega Ambassadors Peter Burling And Blair Tuke
Fresh off the heels of the opening ceremony for the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games and just days before their first race, Omega Ambassadors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke answered our questions.
With the 2021 Tokyo Olympic Games taking place with unprecedented precautions, the importance of time is more apparent than ever. Having an intrinsic understanding of that notion down to the millisecond, these two Omega Ambassadors are more than prepared to clinch yet another gold medal for New Zealand.
After learning to sail at a young age, Emirates Team New Zealand teammates and 2021 America’s Cup winners Peter Burling and Blair Tuke have a passion and talent as expansive as the Tokyo waters in which they are set to compete this week. And with every pre-race moment more valuable than the last, we made sure to discuss the time-sensitivity of their chosen sport with these two gold medalists.
Every young athlete’s dream is to, at least, compete in the Olympics, let alone win a gold medal. Yet, for both Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, the concept of competing was never fully actualized until they saw their peers do it.
Peter Burling: “When you start sailing, you don’t really imagine a future as an Olympian, but those kinds of dreams grow as you get more into the sport and watch your fellow Kiwis compete in the Games. So, yes, it’s great to be heading into a fourth Olympic Games. It’s an honor to wear the silver fern and represent Aotearoa (New Zealand).”
Blair Tuke: “Once you start winning regattas, it becomes a rush, and the competitive spirit adds another dimension. It’s exciting to perform well out on the water, and it inspires you to take on greater challenges. You don’t really imagine going into your third Olympic Games, you just focus on the next challenge ahead, and after a few years, you look back proudly at representing your country.”
Omega on the Mind
As two Omega ambassadors with an acute awareness of time, Watchonista wondered: How has Omega helped them prepare their best for the Olympic Games?
BT: “For me, it serves as a reminder of Omega’s history of timekeeping and its long association with the Olympic Games. For Pete and me, every second matters on the water. So we share Omega’s drive for precision.”
PB: “There are also similarities between competitive sailing and watchmaking because you’re always trying to achieve that edge or push at the boundaries of what’s possible. It comes down to a commitment to delivering your best performance, and that’s very motivating.”
With a whole roster of additional Omega-sponsored athletes set to compete at the Olympics, with whom would you most like to switch places?
BT: “I wouldn’t mind having a go at being a top golfer like Rory McIlroy. I’ve played in the past, but I’m pretty sure I’ve spent more time in the sandpits than he has.”
PB: “I’d probably switch with Mondo Duplantis. I quite like the idea of the pole vault. It must be an awesome feeling, looking down on the crossbar when you know you’ve cleared it.”
The Watches of Champions
In terms of personal watch preferences, the sailors made it very apparent their preferences for gold lean more toward the medal than metal.
PB: “Well, we certainly appreciate gold in medal form, and the watches look great, but personally, I’m more of a steel or ceramic guy.”
BT: “For me, gold is dressier, and because I’m a casual Kiwi who spends a lot of time on the water, I don’t get into suits too often. So, like Pete, I’m a fan of the sportier styles in the tougher materials.”
The Most Time Sensitive
There is no denying that Olympic athletes are incredibly busy. When not training for the Olympics, both Kiwis compete in races from the America’s Cup to the World Championships, but no race is of greater importance than that to conserve our oceans.
After starting their charity, Live Ocean, at the height of their careers, one must ask, why now?
PB: “There’s no time to wait. It has to be now. When I sailed in the Volvo Ocean Race, we had this realization that something had to be done, as everything is so connected.
“We have to work together, and for me, it’s especially important as a New Zealander because we are surrounded by ocean. We love it. We use its resources, and I believe we can lead the world in protecting and restoring the health of our ocean.”
BT: “Agreed, we have to urgently come around the issues our ocean is facing before it’s too late. I’m driven to use my sporting platform to shine a light on the issues and accelerate change. And I’d like that drive to be taken up by others, especially my fellow Kiwis who are well-placed to make a huge difference.
“In New Zealand, we have a very ‘can do’ spirit, and I’d like us to go down in history as the country that turned things around for the blue planet. That would be a win we can all celebrate.”
It’s an important mission, to be sure, and one that you definitely do not need a gold medal to get behind, but then again, an Omega on the wrist will only help.
The 2021 Summer Olympics in Tokyo is taking place now until August 8th.
(Photography by Omega)