Paris Olympics: Isaac McHardie, Will McKenzie named to succeed Burling, Tuke in NZ 49er boat

Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie have won a nailbiting battle for NZ 49er boat the Paris Olympics, following in the footsteps of America's Cup heroes Peter Burling and Blair Tuke.

The pair were competing for the spot against training mates Logan Dunning Beck and Oscar Gunn, until their rivals had to abandon their bid, when Dunning Beck suffered a serious injury before the final Olympic trial.

"Being selected for the Olympics is a dream come true and we are honoured to represent New Zealand on sailing's biggest stage," said McHardie. "We would like to acknowledge the hard work of many people to get us here, including Logan and Oscar, who pushed us all the way.

Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie in 49er action.
Isaac McHardie and Will McKenzie in 49er action. Photo credit: Photosport

"We wish Logan a speedy recovery."

Burling and Tuke have medalled at the last three Olympics, including gold at Rio de Janeiro 2016, but declared their unavailability for Paris early to concentrate on their commitments to Emirates Team New Zealand and the NZ SailGP campaign.

"We grew up watching Pete and Blair achieve incredible results in the class, and we appreciate their willingness to share some of their experience and advice with us and other teams through the years," said McKenzie.

"They have left big shoes to fill, but we are confident that, with the support of our amazing coaches and the rest of the New Zealand Olympic team, we can do them and the country proud in Marseille."

Meanwhile, Olympic veterans Jo Aleh and Molly Meech will combine for the first time in the women's 49erFX. The pair have previously competed at a combined five Games, with Aleh medalling at Rio 2016 (silver) and London 2012 (bronze) in 470s.

Aleh took a five-year break from competition, before linking with Meech in 2022.

"Having started my Olympic journey in the Laser Radial (ILCA 6) back in Beijing, I’m happy to be sailing a faster boat each time and I am absolutely loving taking on the 49erFX with Molly and the challenge it brings," said Aleh. 

"After watching from the coach boat in Tokyo, I am looking forward to being back on the racecourse and doing what I love."

The quartet join Tom Saunders (ILCA 7), Micah Wilkinson and Erica Dawson (Nacra 17), and Veerle ten Have and Josh Armit (windfoil), already named in the sailing contingent for Paris.