America’s Cup 2021: Meet the crew aboard Team New Zealand’s Te Rehutai

Team New Zealand haven’t sailed competitively in more than two months, yet their superior boat speed and talented crew has the overwhelming favourite to retain the Auld Mug. With the America’s Cup Match set to start next Wednesday, Michael Burgess takes a look at who does what on Te Rehutai.

Glenn Ashby (trimmer)

Tends to go under the radar but not within the team. Remains one of the most important signings in Team New Zealand history, as he was key to their transition to the foiling era ahead of the 2013 regatta in San Francisco.

The 43-year-old is responsible for trimming the twin-skinned mainsail and looks after the boat’s set-up before and after transitions.

Ashby provides plenty of tactical input to Burling, and there is no doubting his mana on the boat, demonstrated in the America’s Cup World Series, when his urgent warnings to Burling prevented a high-speed collision between one of their foil arms and a buoy during a mark rounding.

Peter Burling (helmsman)

The man in the hot seat, who seems impervious to pressure. In Bermuda, he became the youngest helmsman (aged 26) to win an America’s Cup match, displacing Jimmy Spithill’s record (30) from 2010.

Burling could join a select bunch of helmsmen to manage consecutive Cup successes in the modern era (Dennis Conner, Russell Coutts and Spithill) if Team New Zealand retain the Auld Mug.

Made his name in fleet racing, with Olympic silver (2012) and gold (2016) in the 49er class alongside Blair Tuke. The Tauranga prodigy has always been talented beyond his years, and as a 17-year-old schoolboy, was the youngest sailing competitor at the 2008 Beijing Olympics.

Ray Davies (sailor/performance development)

In his seventh America’s Cup campaign, Davies has a vital role as the sailing team coach.

He has extensive experience, dating back to the 2000 regatta in Auckland with America One.

Served as Dean Barker’s tactician in San Francisco in 2013 and is also listed as back-up helmsman for Burling this time around.

Guy Endean (grinder)

The Aucklander was part of the Youth America’s Cup winning team in 2013, alongside Burling, Tuke and Maloney.

Completed the difficult transition as one of the cyclors on board Aotearoa in 2017 in Bermuda.

Steven Ferguson (grinder)

Lived in the shadow of his legendary father Ian but still carved out an impressive Olympic career, going to Sydney (2000) as a swimmer, then competing in the next three Games as a kayaker.

The 40-year-old is the oldest member of the grinding team.

Marcus Hansen (grinder)

His sailing career started in Whangarei as a seven-year-old, before making his mark in Optimists and the 49er, where he claimed world championship silver in 2013 behind Burling and Tuke.

Hansen then transitioned to stand-up paddle board (SUP) racing, before signing on with Team New Zealand in 2019.

Finn Henry (grinder)

The ultimate Cinderella story.

With no background in elite sport, Henry was a builder on the shore crew who successfully trialled for a spot in June 2020, after spending the best part of a year matching the grinding team’s workouts in solo evening sessions at the base gym.

Carlo Huisman (grinder)

Made his name on the RC44 circuit before joining Team New Zealand, where he was the youngest member of the sailing crew in Bermuda.

Was alongside Burling on Dutch boat Brunel in the most recent Volvo Round the World race.

Josh Junior (grinder/offside control)

From Wellington, Junior finished seventh in the Finn class at the 2016 Rio Olympics.

Another Bermuda veteran and, like Maloney, has extra responsibility during manoeuvres, when Burling, Tuke and Ashby switch sides on Te Rehutai.

Mike Lee (grinder)

One of the newest members of the team, Lee, who has a surf lifesaving background, was recruited in June 2020, after a second round of grinding trials.

The team hierarchy decided to add more personnel to the engine room, after realising the physical demands of providing power for the AC75s.

Andy Maloney (grinder/offside control)

A member of the Murrays Bay Sailing Club, Maloney has a background in Lasers, in which he claimed multiple World Cup medals.

One of the “cyclors” on the 2017 campaign, Maloney has a more traditional grinding role on Te Rehutai. Also helps the afterguard with their respective roles during transitions, when the trio are changing sides.

Louis Sinclair (grinder)

Joined Team New Zealand in January 2019, after being with the Oracle team in Bermuda.

Born in Wairoa, Sinclair grew up in Antigua and got the ocean sailing bug early; the 28-year-old has already competed in two Volvo Round the World races.

Joe Sullivan (grinder)

The 2012 Olympic rowing gold medallist added the America’s Cup to his CV in 2017, providing pedal power on the foiling catamaran.

The pride of Picton is back in 2021, after completing an arduous trial process in early 2019.

Blair Tuke (flight controller)

Tuke reprises his role from Bermuda, in charge of maximising the stability and efficiency of the boat when foiling.

He is constantly adjusting the wing flaps on the foil arms, using a touch screen computer, to keep Te Rehutai flying โ€” and hopefully flying fast.

The 31-year-old provides observations and feedback to Burling during a race and may also be responsible for control of the rudder pitch.

A product of Kawakawa in the Far North, Tuke started sailing as an 11-year-old. His 49er career alongside Burling began in 2008 and the duo joined Team New Zealand in January 2014, after winning the 2013 Youth America’s Cup.

Marius Van der Pol (grinder)

Van der Pol took an unlikely route into the Team New Zealand fold.

Despite no sailing background, the ex-New Zealand Army soldier detailed his aspirations in an email to chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge, which led to a series of painful โ€” but ultimately successful โ€” trials.

Simon van Velthooven (grinder)

The 2012 Keirin Olympic cycling bronze medallist was one of the trump cards in Bermuda, with his talent and knowledge proving key with the cyclor system that powered the AC50s.

Has successfully transitioned to a conventional grinding role this time.

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