Three-time Olympic Champion Hamish Bond is one of four new cyclors to join Emirates Team New Zealand (ETNZ) in their bid to win the Auld Mug. The New Zealand sailing team are hopeful Bond’s knack for successful title defences will pay dividends next year at the 37th America’s Cup in Barcelona, Spain.
The sailing event, which possesses the oldest trophy in international sport, is no stranger to powerhouse rowers adding their heft to grinding teams. Past examples of Kiwi scullers-turned-grinders include Rob Waddell and Joseph Sullivan.
Speaking to Row360 at the time of his (second) rowing retirement, in early 2022, Bond did not believe a shot at the America’s Cup was realistic. “No. Fundamentally, logistically; no.” Quipping, “If they were paying Pete Burling’s skipper wages then, yes, maybe, but [not] if I’m just on grinding wages…”
After hanging up his oar, Bond moved to North Carolina, USA, where his wife, Lizzie, is pursuing a fellowship at Duke University in orthopaedic surgery. In addition to raising his three young children Bond is a volunteer coach at Duke Rowing.
“It is not going to work. They [ETNZ] are going to be based overseas for months on end. My wife has a career, I’ve got kids,” he said having mused, “It probably seems more glamorous than it is but I could give the cycling gig a nudge for the America’s Cup.”
Communication with ETNZ revealed a shot at sailing glory was possible, as the timeline was feasible and allowances would be made for his family setup. Bond was required to pass the brutal pre-Christmas selection process while training alone and testing remotely in America.
The selection process was overseen by Kim Simperingham, the ETNZ trainer, whose job is to find and train the elite athletes capable of outputting the immense power required to drive the systems onboard.
“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.”
The potential cyclors pushed, “their bodies to their absolute limits”. A combination of short maximum power output tests and longer endurance tests, “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,” said Simperingham.
“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.”
Despite being a dual sport medal winner Bond has (as yet) no sailing experience. After being selected he considered trying his hand at dinghy sailing, but told Stuff, “It would be like going downhill in a trolley and then stepping into a Formula One car.”
The 23 meter, monohull AC75 yachts which will feature at the 37th America’s Cup are multimillion dollar speed machines, equipped with state of the art hydrofoils, and capable of exceeding 50 knots (almost 100 kilometres per hour). “It is like being in a small Cessna aeroplane flying at a very low altitude,” said two-time America’s Cup winner and London 2012 Olympic Champion Joseph Sullivan. “It is extremely quick and quite violent.”
Bond will do well to follow Sullivan’s lead because, as Bond said himself: “That guy has never lost a pinnacle competition!”
ETNZ Cyclor Recruits
Hamish Bond is one of New Zealand’s most decorated and impressive athletes known for his exceptional dedication, focus and commitment to succeed. A three time Olympic Gold medallist in rowing with back to back gold medals in the men’s pair in 2012 & 2016, followed by his third Olympic Gold in the men’s eight in Tokyo 2020, Bond has also competed at the highest level in cycling, winning a Commonwealth Games bronze medal in the road cycling time trial in 2018.
Cameron Webster represented New Zealand as part of the elite Rowing New Zealand squad between 2016-2020 competing at a number of World Championships across pairs, fours and eight man crews. Cameron finished his competitive rowing career in 2022 and is completing his Law Degree in 2023 while simultaneously starting his role as a cyclor for Emirates Team New Zealand.
Dougal Allan is an international multi-sport champion and two time winner of New Zealand’s Coast to Coast and course record holder of Challenge Wanaka. Dougal has over 15 years of elite multi-sport experience of pushing his body to the limit.
Louis Crosby is a former professional cyclist who was part of Pure Black Racing competing internationally on the US and South-East Asia circuits. Louis retired from competitive road cycling moving into mountain bike racing and multisport competition before being selected to become a cyclor for Emirates Team New Zealand.