Blair Tuke, who was born in Kawakawa in 1989, helped create a bit of sports history when he and Peter Burling won the silver medal in the 49er sailing at the 2012 London Olympics. It was New Zealand’s 100th Olympic medal, stretching right back to Harry Herr, who won a walking bronze medal in 1908. Tuke went to Riverside Primary and Kerikeri High School. “From an early age I played rugby with my brothers on the lawn and I always wanted to be the best,” he said. “I didn't always want to be in the classroom because I was thinking more about sailing or how the rugby game at lunchtime was going to go.” He started sailing centreboard yachts at the age of 11 during a primary school sailing day. The family moved to Auckland for his fifth form year and he went to St Kentigern College and knuckled down enough to pass his classroom tests - in between sailing and playing rugby. Halfway through the next year he started an electrical apprenticeship, though for him sailing was always the priority. He went on to become Splash world champion in 2006 at Riva del Garda, Italy, and 29er world champion in 2009 (with Steven Thomas) at the same venue. He and Peter Burling placed second in the 2011 49er world championships in Perth, beaten by Australians Nathan Outteridge and Iain Jensen. The performance earned them inclusion in the 2012 Olympic team. They warmed up for the Olympics with a second placing in the 2012 world championships in Zadar, Croatia, again dipping out to the crack Australians. At the Olympics, skipper Burling and Tuke sailed a very consistent series and had the silver wrapped up before the final race. Their placings over the fortnight of racing in Weymouth were 9-7-1-7-2-3-5-9-11-7-2-1-2-15-6-6-4. Once their worst performance was discarded, they finished with 76 points. They were well behind gold medallists Outteridge and Jensen, but no other team in the 20-strong field got near them. Appropriately, Burling and Tuke received their medals from fellow New Zealander Barbara Kendall, a member of the IOC and a three-time Olympic windsurfing medallist.
After the Olympics Tuke headed to San Francisco to crew on an AC72, one of Team New Zealand's smaller boats. Tuke also found time to compete in the 2012 Sydney to Hobart ocean race, aboard Ray Haslar’s entry, Rikki. He and Burling continued their hot form by winning the 2013 49er title at the European championships in Denmark, a milestone for the pair. “Obviously we won silver at the Olympic, but it's the first time we've actually won a major international regatta with all the top guys here,” Tuke said. Later in 2013, Burling and Tuke added the 49er world title to their Olympic silver, cleaning up a strong field in Marseille, France. Outteridge and Jensen finished fifth. They were also helmsman and tactician on the winning boat, ETNZ, in the Youth America's Cup regatta, sailed in AC45s off San Francisco. Tuke and Burling won the 2013 New Zealand Sailor of the Year award. At the end of 2013 Tuke again contested the Sydney to Hobart, aboard Zefiro, a Farr 100 owned by Cyprus-based German businessman Gerhard Ruether. Zefiro finished 13th. In January 2014 it was announced that Emirates Team New Zealand had signed Tuke and Burling. Managing director Grant Dalton said Tuke and Burling would race two AC45s at world series events in 2015 and 2016. Among Tuke’s sailing mentors, he lists Bruce Kendall, Aaron McIntosh and Mike Sanderson. Tuke is a member of Kerikeri Cruising Club.