America’s Cup: Olympic rower joins Emirates Team New Zealand

Triple Olympic Rowing Gold Medalist, Hamish Bond has joined Emirates Team New Zealand Triple Olympic Rowing Gold Medalist, Hamish Bond has joined Emirates Team New Zealand

Emirates Team New Zealand has secured a substantial injection of power to its sailing team lineup for its defence of the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona in 2024, with four new names from varied backgrounds of elite New Zealand sports — including Olympic champion rower Hamish Bond.

The four athletes to join the team are Dougal Allan (multi-sport), Hamish Bond (rowing/cycling), Louis Crosby (cycling) and Cameron Webster (rowing).

Bond has won three Olympic gold medals in rowing, and is a Commonwealth Games bronze medalist in cycling.

Each of the new sailing team recruits progressed through a tough selection process overseen by Emirates Team New Zealand trainer, Kim Simperingham, late in 2022. Simperingham’s job is to find and physically train the elite athletes capable of outputting the immense power required to drive the systems onboard the AC75.

Emirates Team New Zealand during the 36th America’s Cup

“We had a really interesting week of cyclor testing for our existing sailing team and a list of potential new candidates, all of whom took their bodies to their absolute limits for the tests,” says Simperingham.

Team NZ’s cyclors are “cycling sailors” who provide pedal power to generate the hydraulic pressure that drives the vessel — an innovative alternative to the traditional arm-powered winches.

“The two main physical qualities we were looking for are athletes that can sustain a really high power output for the length of a race, up to about half an hour, and athletes that can also achieve really high peaks in power, that will be used for the manoeuvres during races,” adds Simperingham.

The tests combined short maximum power output tests and longer endurance tests.

“This gives us an idea of their physical strengths, whether it be the short sprints or the long endurance aerobic work. And then in the end, we compare that to what we’ll need on the boat and end up with a group of cyclors that will carry us through the next couple of years,” says Simperingham.

Marius van der Pol has re-signed with Emirates Team New Zealand
Marius van der Pol has re-signed with Emirates Team New Zealand

“What we found was the big guys have the power and endurance as opposed to the smaller guys with huge power-to-weight ratio who, although highly impressive, struggle to match the overall numbers that bigger guys can output which shows in many of the guys who have been selected.”

The original cyclor, Simon van Velthooven, who discretely joined the team in 2016 before the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda when the team was developing the cyclor innovation, returns to a more familiar leg-powered role along AC36 grinders Louis Sinclair, Marcus Hansen and Marius van der Pol who were not spared the pain of the selection tests along with sailor Sam Meech who joined the team in 2022.

“It’s brutal, America’s Cups are hard so they put us through a hard test. It’s crucial to deliver the whole way through,” says van Velthooven.

Van der Pol adds: “You sort of easily forget how much pain these little tests can put you through. So that’s a good check-in and reminder.”

Dougal Allen has joined Emirates Team New Zealand
Dougal Allen recovers from the brutal selection process

Emirates Team New Zealand’s Blair Tuke, who has been intricately involved in the selection process, says he is encouraged by the calibre of the team that has been established around him.

“We have a really potent mix of America’s Cup and AC75 experience, fresh hungry talent and raw power which I am sure will set us up strongly by the time we are on the start line for the America’s Cup Match on October 12th 2024 in Barcelona,” says Tuke.

“To see what these guys are prepared to put themselves through in testing to qualify for the team has been really impressive and I have no doubt they will apply that same commitment to the whole team in the gym, in the shed and on the water throughout the campaign.”

In September, Emirates Team New Zealand conducted a successful maiden sail of the new AC40, with the vessel reaching 34 knots in the waters of the ‘back paddock’ between Auckland’s Waiheke Island and Howick Beachlands.

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This article was written and/or edited by the UK-based MIN team.

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