It’s Not Just About The Bikes

Much has been made of the new cycle grinders onboard Emirates Team New Zealand's America's Cup catamaran, but for the team it's also about the crew behind them.

There has been much made of the cycle grinding innovation that Emirates Team New Zealand revealed last week, but the hardware is only one part of the power generation needed onboard. The other part… The grinders or ‘cyclors’ they call themselves affectionately.

Test jigs and prototypes are one thing to keep hidden during the past few years, the harder thing to keep unnoticed was the intense physical training program the cyclors have been undertaking transitioning their bodies from an upper body, chest and arms focused program to all legs legs legs.

Everyday is leg day at Emirates Team New Zealand.


Team Physical Trainer Hubert Woroniecki has been over seeing the transition, with some help from under cover import Simon van Velthooven who has helped with the changes in training technique.

‘We started the cycling training over a year and a half ago. At the beginning it was a challenge balancing the physical demands of grinding regularly on our first test boat while simultaneously turning the team into cyclists. Now the guys cycle daily, over a range of durations and intensities, along with other types of training. In some key sessions they will push themselves to their absolute physical limits on the bikes.” said Woroniecki.

“We have relied on the Watt Bikes heavily, hidden away out of sight of all visitors to not raise suspicion but there has been a need to also escape the base and get out on the road on road bikes.”


The entire sailing team has saddled up and been putting in some big mile rides increasing their base fitness and stamina in the saddle.

“We have had some big rides as a group which have been as much team building as physical training,” explained Van Velthooven.

“200 km rides from the base in Auckland to Coromandel as fast as possible together as a group is one way to make sure we keep ourselves honest and look after each other.”


“The ferry rides home were always a quiet affair with most guys passed out for the duration of the trip.”

Regular testing sessions to track the guys fitness and increasing power output under extreme stress has been something the sailing team never anticipate positively.

“They are brutal tests.” explained Olympic gold medalist rower Joseph Sullivan.


“It’s actually quite similar to a rowing race, you just hit a physical limit of where your body is telling you to stop, but you just have to stay there, you just have to keep going.”

Skipper Glenn Ashby has been inspired by what he has seen from the young generation of hungry power providers.

“There has been no shortage of vomit in bins from the guys literally riding their guts out, which has been very encouraging to see. The guys are really pushing themselves to the limit to win this America’s Cup and it helps having guys like Joe that know how far you have to push yourself to win an Olympic rowing gold medal so the guys can measure themselves against him.”

While the ‘cyclors’ are a very tight unit, they also know they are competing against themselves for a finite number of spots on the race boat.

“They push themselves incredibly hard,” explained trainer Woroniecki, “They are all extremely competitive and they push themselves in a really positive way. The team comes first, and that philosophy is what makes them all want to be a better group within the team collectively.”