America's Cup winner Peter Burling is hoping he can lead Team Brunel to victory for the upcoming Volvo Ocean Race leg from Hong Kong to Auckland.
Burling missed the recent leg from Melbourne to Hong Kong in which Brunel finished fifth. It was a leg he had planned to take off after a busy last two years which saw him win gold at the Olympics and winning the Auld Mug in Bermuda.
The 27-year-old will depart Auckland for Hong Kong in the coming days. After a ceremonial leg to Guangzhou, the crews will embark on the 6,100 nautical mile leg to Auckland.
Six of the seven teams competing in the Volvo Ocean Race have Kiwis on board, and after having some time off over Christmas, Burling is as determined as ever to win this leg and be the first of the New Zealand contingent into the City of Sails.
"I've watched the Volvo come into Auckland a few times and it's absolutely amazing to see how many get down there and how many people follow the boats in and get out on the water," Burling told Newshub.
"I've seen the photos of when the Whitbread came to town a few years ago and heard some pretty good stories.”
"It will be an absolutely amazing experience sailing into the home port."
During his time off, Burling admitted it has been excellent catching up with family and recharging the batteries.
"It has been great to have a little time off. I haven't had much time off since the cup finished.”
"I've mainly been hanging out with family and having some downtime, having some rest and not doing a whole heap.”
"It' been pretty good, but in the last week I've been catching up with the America's Cup again and keeping up to date with what's going on."
The two-time Olympic medallist and World Sailor of the Year opened up about life onboard the Team Brunel boat and some of the similarities compared to Team New Zealand.
"It's pretty similar but incredibly different at the same time," he admitted. "The Volvo is an endurance race that goes for eight months and the shortest legs are a week and the longest are 20 days. "Some decisions you make play out over weeks and some play out over a couple of days, so you need to make the right decisions at the right time and if you have a little speed decrease it's hard to make it up."
Team New Zealand has been nominated for both team of the year at the Halberg Awards and also the Laureus World Sports Awards.
At the Halbergs, they are up against the Black Ferns, Black Sox and the Women’s K2 pair, while at the Laureus they will be up against the likes of the Golden State Warriors and Real Madrid.
Burling said it is an honour to be considered for both awards.
"The Halbergs is a really cool part of New Zealand sport and for us to be a finalist for Team of the Year is pretty awesome.
"We have had an amazing year, but I'm not sure what more we could have done as a team but we are excited to be down [as a finalist]. I'll be in the middle of the ocean, but the guys are really excited to head along and represent us.
"The Laureus Awards will be tougher to win, the calibre of people there is incredible, but to be a finalist is pretty humbling as a team."
Leg 6 of the Volvo Ocean Race departs Hong Kong for Auckland on February 7th.