Blair Tuke targets unprecedented sailing triple

Blair Tuke's pursuit of history
Blair Tuke's pursuit of history

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Story highlights

  • Blair Tuke is an Olympic gold medalist and America's Cup winner
  • Kiwi sailor is competing in this year's Volvo Ocean Race
  • Could become first man to win "triple crown" of sailing

(CNN)Just two months on from lifting the oldest trophy in sport, Blair Tuke is already setting his sights on something no sailor has ever achieved.

The Kiwi has proved his credentials in both fleet racing and match racing -- winning Olympic gold in the 49er class, and the 35th Americas Cup with Emirates Team New Zealand.
Now he's going global, turning his attentions to the Volvo Ocean Race (VOR).
    "It's a different boat, but a lot of the same principles of sailing are here," Tuke tells CNN, having joined Spanish team MAPFRE.
    "You go out and make the boat go fast, day in day out without any respite -- that's something which is pretty exciting."
    One thing's for sure, it'll be a major departure from the azure waters of Bermuda's Great Sound.
    The VOR pits the best professional crews against each other through some of the most inhospitable waters on the planet.
    Starting on October 22 from Alicante, Spain, entrants will visit 12 host cities on six continents, covering more than 46,000 nautical miles (85,000km.)
    Should Tuke and his crew members reach the Hague on the western coast of the Netherlands in the quickest time, he will become the first person in history to win the VOR, America's Cup and an Olympic title.
    "It's a real endurance battle and to have the opportunity to do it is really cool," says Tuke.
    "It would have been nice to have had a little bit more time off after the last 12 months, but I couldn't let this opportunity go.
    "To be here with a team such as MAPFRE, with the skill and experience that they have on board, I just want to ensure I contribute to that.
    "From my point of view, I just want to learn quickly so I can help us get around the world faster than the rest of these guys."

    From crew mates to rivals

    Through the good times and the bad, Tuke has almost always had close friend and compatriot Peter Burling at his side.
    Together they carried the New Zealand flag at the Rio 2016 Olympic opening ceremony, going on to win gold with two races to spare.
    Together they were named New Zealand's Team of the Year, ahead of the All Blacks, at the 54th Halberg Awards.
    And together they clinched the 35th Americas Cup in June -- Tuke acting as a cyclist and foil trimmer, with Burling becoming the youngest ever helmsman to win the prestigious race.
    Now, though, they go head to head.
    Burling has joined Team Brunel for this year's VOR and will vie with his former crew member for the title.
    "Round-the-world ocean racing has always excited me and I'm stoked to be part of Team Brunel on this epic edition," said Burling.
    "I can't wait to be thrown into the challenge of extreme offshore racing and broaden my skills and sailing experience."
    Both men must sleep in four-hour shifts, subsisting on little more than freeze dried food and chocolate bars if they hope to win the event.
    Both Team Brunel and MAPFRE are among the favorites.
    "There's no hotel room to go home to each night," says Tuke. "It'll be challenging, but I'm ready for it."