In the past few days, there has been a lot of talk about Emirates Team New Zealand pedal sailors. But the adoption of pedal-powered winches instead of arm-powered ones is just one among the many aspects that need to be taken into account in order to supply the necessary power on board the catamaran. For the real engine lies in the legs of grinders, now renamed “cyclors” after the crasis between “cyclers” and “sailors“.
According to the Kiwi syndacate vying for the next America’s Cup, the hardest thing was to keep unnoticed the amount and intensity of the training which, in the last 18 months, has transferred grinders’ preparation from arms to legs.
Team Physical Trainer, Hubert Woroniecki, has followed the transition of his men from sailors to cyclors with the undercover help of Simon van Velthooven, the New Zealand track racing cyclist who won a bronze medal at the 2012 Olympics.
“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 Wororiecki.
“We have relied on the indoor Watt Bikes heavily , to keep ourselves hidden away out of sight of all visitors – added Woroniecki – to not raise suspicion but there has been a need to also escape the base and get out on the road on road bikes.”
“ We have had some big rides as a group which have been as much team building as physical training”, explained the trainer. “A 200 km ride, from Auckland to Coromandel, as fast as possible, together as a group is a solution to be made sure we keep ourselves honest and look after each other”.
Until now, nothing was unveiled about the Kiwi training aimed to increase their fitness and power output under extreme physical and mental stress.
“They’re brutal tests“, explained Olympic gold medalist rower Joseph Sullivan (London, 2012). ” The energy demand is similar to a rowing race. You hit a physical limit where your body is telling you to stop but you just have to stay there and keep going”. After all, as Italian pilot Alex Zanardi says: “When you think you have anything else to give, resist other 5 seconds“.
ETNZ skipper Glenn Ashby has been particularly inspired by what he has seen from the young generation of power providers.
” The guys are really making any effort – said the skipper – to win this America’s Cup. It certainly helps having guys like Joe (Sullivan) who exacttly knows how far you have to push yourself to win a rowing gold medal and it’s fundamental that our guys can measure themselves against him”.
Although cyclors are a very tight group, they also know they’re competing against themselves to gain one of the seven spots installed on the race boat. “They’re really pushing themselves to the limit”, says Woroniecki” They’re all extremely competitive and they push themselves in a really positive way. The team comes first and this approach is what makes them all want to be a better group within the collectivity of the team.”