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Peter Burling, Blair Tuke step away from SailGP to focus on defending Olympic gold

Kiwi sailing stars Peter Burling and Blair Tuke will miss the second and third SailGP regattas with the New Zealand team to turn their attention towards their Olympic campaign.

(L-R) Louis Sinclair, Blair Tuke, Andy Maloney, Erica Dawson, Josh Junior, Liv Mackay, Marcus Hansen and Peter Burling Source: Supplied

Burling and Tuke, who are currently in managed isolation after three weeks of training in Europe, are looking to defend their 49er gold medal in Tokyo but said they will still help the team from long-distance with advice for the regattas in Italy and England.

“While we’d obviously prefer to be competing in Italy and in the UK, technology is enabling us to continue to work with the team on its preparation, performance and analysis with the real-time Oracle cloud data insights,” Burling told Stuff.

The pair, who are co-CEOs of the New Zealand outfit, have recruited a trio of experienced imports to cover for them during their absence, with Swiss foiling specialist Arnaud Psarofaghis (helm) and Australian James Wierzbowski (flight controller) and Kiwi Jason Saunders (wing trimmer) all brought on board.

“All three sailors bring a huge amount of talent and experience to an already strong team,” Tuke said.

“We have a super high-performance group of athletes who have the necessary skills and experience to perform in the SailGP environment,” Tuke said.

“We’ll be working really closely with the new recruits to build on the knowledge we already gained from the first event,” Burling added.

While Burling and Tuke are absent, America’s Cup teammates Andy Maloney and Josh Junior will take the lead at the team’s camp in Taranto.

The New Zealand team managed a fifth-place finish in their debut in Bermuda in April while Sir Ben Ainslie led Great Britain to a round one win.

The second regatta in Italy takes place this weekend before the circuit heads to Great Britain from July 17-19.