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15 Dec 2017 2:23
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  •   Home > News > Sports > Sailing

    Olympic cyclist to trial for Team NZ role

    Accomplished track cyclist Simon Van Velthooven is trialling for a Team NZ crew berth in an America's Cup campaign set to be built on leg power.


    Team New Zealand's apparent switch to pedal power to reclaim the America's Cup has prompted Olympic cycling medallist Simon Van Velthooven to try out for a crew role.

    The Kiwi syndicate launch their AC50 catamaran on Thursday and are expected to confirm their grinders' pedestals are controlled by legs rather than the customary arms.

    Television footage of the boat on Waitemata Harbour showed four members of the crew pedalling to power the winches which provide hydraulic pressure.

    It could yet prove a game-breaking innovation at the America's Cup in Bermuda, beginning with the qualifying series in May.

    A Cycling NZ official confirmed sprint specialist Van Velthooven has been granted a break from that sport's high performance programme to train with Team NZ in a bid to be part of the campaign.

    The 28-year-old won a bronze medal in the kierin at the 2012 London Olympics but failed to win selection for last year's Games in Rio.

    If Van Velthooven competes in Bermuda, he wouldn't be the first Olympian to cross codes to the America's Cup.

    Former rowing gold medallist Rob Waddell was a grinder for Team NZ at the 2003 and 2007 regattas.

    Meanwhile, former Team NZ skipper Dean Barker, who is at the helm of Japan's challenge in Bermuda, expressed doubt over the Kiwis' approach.

    He says cycling-style grinding was considered by his syndicate but ruled out as their were too many downsides.

    "The dynamics of these boats, changing sides frequently, different manoeuvres, there is a cost to go down that path," he told Radio Sport.

    "Good on them for giving a different concept a go. The decision we took is that it isn't going to pay for itself."


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