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America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ announce sailing team

by Emirates Team NZ/Sail-World.com/nz 27 Jun 02:05 BST 27 June 2019
Josh Junior - Emirates Team New Zealand initial Sailing Team announcement - June 27, 2019 © Richard Hodder

America's Cup Champions, Emirates Team New Zealand have announced an initial 14 strong Sailing team ahead of the launch of the team's AC75 in late August/early September.

The team includes seven Olympians, five of whom are Olympic medalists. As in the 35th America's Cups. Two of the sailors who have never sailed a yacht race at an international level..

Four of the team are currently involved in Olympic campaigns, and three have been announced by Yachting New Zealand for the Olympic Test event in Enoshima, in mid-August.

“We have really interesting mix of sailors making up the Emirates Team New Zealand sailing team for the AC36,” said Emirates Team New Zealand COO Kevin Shoebridge.

“As we have always seen, a cohesive mix of both sailing talent and raw power is a fundamental piece of the puzzle to success on the water. We saw this in Bermuda and will no doubt see it again in Auckland.”

A number of the familiar faces that were onboard the America’s Cup winning crew as ‘cyclors’ in Bermuda are back again by making a successful transition back from the leg powered cycling system which has now been outlawed within the Class Rule for the 36th America’s Cup.

Returning to the team are:

- AndyMaloney(Kerikeri)
- Carlo Huisman (The Netherlands)
- Guy Endean (Auckland)
- Joseph Sullivan (Picton)
- Josh Junior (Wellington)
- Simon van Velthooven. (Palmerston North)

“There wasn’t an easy road into this group for anyone in the sailing team. They all effectively had to prove themselves again. And it has been really encouraging to see the hunger from the guys who were with us last time to return for the defence on home waters in New Zealand,” said Shoebridge.

The new names to join Emirates Team New Zealand come from a varied background.

Louis Sinclair (Wairoa) is new to the team but not to America’s Cup racing, having been with Oracle Team USA in Bermuda in 2017. Sinclair has also competed in 2 Volvo Ocean races, in 2017/18 alongside team mate Blair Tuke onboard Mapfre, and as part of the 2014/15 winning team- Abu Dhabi.

Steven Ferguson (Auckland) is yet another internationally proven athlete to successfully transition from Olympic sport to grinding for Emirates Team New Zealand. Ferguson represented New Zealand as a swimmer at the Sydney 2000 Olympic Games before jumping out of the pool and into the kayak as a K1 & K2 sprinter for the Athens 2004, Beijing 2008 and London 2012 Olympic Games.

Ferguson is also a Surf Lifesaving world title holder and has represented New Zealand at four World Championships.

Marcus Hansen (Whangarei) started sailing aged 7, winning the New Zealand Optimist Nationals in 2006, working his way through the classes before being part of the NZL sailing team in the 49er achieving a 2nd place at the 49er worlds in 2013 to fellow NZL sailing team members Peter Burling and Blair Tuke. Hansen has since swapped from the 49er to international Stand Up Paddle Board (SUP) racing finishing the 2018 season in 6th place in the Mens World Rankings.

Marius Van der Pol (Russell) has joined the team as a rank outsider. Having cycled the length of New Zealand with the NZ Army in 2010, then setting a New Zealand record on the indoor rower in a time of 1:14 for 500m in 2018, a friend ignited the spark of chasing a childhood dream of grinding for Emirates Team New Zealand. An unsolicited email to Kevin Shoebridge, led to an introduction to grindings “world of hurt” in Josh Junior's garage. It was enough to warrant a trial for the team which exposed the sheer power, grit and determination of Van der pol.

Emirates Team New Zealand Head of Physical Performance Dan Plews and Strength and Conditioning specialist Adam Storey will oversee the physical training and development of the sailing team towards the 36th America’s Cup Match in March 2021.

“Grinding on the AC75’s is a going to be a massively physically demanding role for grinders during racing. Having put all of these guys through some pretty brutal testing sessions we are pretty impressed with their natural ability, but also the extent they will go through to push their bodies to the limit,” said Plews.

The other remaining positions onboard will be covered by existing Emirates team New Zealand sailors Glenn Ashby, Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Ray Davies.

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