Four-hour sleeps, freeze dried food — the battle to win the ‘Everest of the Seas’

(CNN)He’s just been named World Sailor of the Year for the second time in three years, but Peter Burling was nowhere to be seen at this week’s glitzy Mexican award ceremony.

Instead the Kiwi helmsman is some 10,000km away, guiding Team Brunel through tough seas from Lisbon to Cape Town on the second leg of the ongoing Volvo Ocean Race (VOR).
He isn’t a man to hang about. At the age of just 26, Burling has already proven 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 stepped right out of his comfort zone, battling day and night in a bid to conquer an event so tough it’s known as the “Everest of the Seas”.
    Burling and his crew will visit 12 host cities on six continents over the coming months, covering more than 46,000 nautical miles (85,000km).
    “Any yacht race you go into, you want to win,” Burling told CNN Sport. “There are plenty in the world that are incredibly prestigious and this is one of them.”
    Should Team Brunel reach the Hague, on the western coast of the Netherlands, in the quickest time later next year, Burling will become the first person in history to have won the VOR, America’s Cup and an Olympic title.
    To have any hope of doing so, he’ll have to sleep in four-hour shifts, subsisting on little more than freeze dried food and chocolate bars.
    But Burling is more than ready for the challenge.
    “I’ve done little bits of offshore racing, but there’s not really any way of getting experience of the longer legs — like the 30, 35-day legs — without going out there and doing it,” he said.
    “It’s obviously very different but in the same light it’s similar. The same things make you win a yacht race or lose a yacht race.

      Blair Tuke’s pursuit of history

    “Winning that gold medal in Rio with Blair was something that was incredibly special,” said Burling, looking back to their Rio 2016 victory in the 49er class. “To follow that with the America’s Cup was special not only for ourselves but also an amazing part of New Zealand sailing history.”
    Now though, with Tuke teaming up with rival boat Mapfre, they go head to head.
    Only one man can become the first to win the so-called Triple Crown of Sailing, but Burling has no intention of getting carried away.
    “I’m really happy with the bunch of people I’ve gone with, and Blair’s pretty similar,” he said, dismissing the competition between them as something driven by the media.
    “You just have to look across the lineup to know there are a lot of Kiwis all across the field. I’m looking forward to catching up with friends and sharing stories from other people’s experience of the legs.”
    Not that he’ll be holding anything back in his pursuit of victory.
    “For myself, I’m just looking to learn as much as i can from some pretty experienced guys and chip in wherever I can,” he said.
    “It’s definitely our goal to win this thing and I’m looking forward to the challenge of the months ahead.”

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