America’s Cup hero learns to sail

America’s Cup hero learns to sail:


That may sound like an early April Fool’s headline, but it’s not:

He’s hailed as an America’s Cup champion. The man who led Team New Zealand’s cyclor pack to victory. But Simon “The Rhino” van Velthooven doesn’t really know how to sail.

“I’ll happily admit I still have no idea what’s going on,” he says. Nevertheless, he’s determined to learn the ropes, to get back on board Emirates Team New Zealand to defend the Auld Mug in three years’ time.

The Olympic cycling bronze medallist quietly slipped into the Team NZ fold back in 2016, given a clandestine mission to teach the sailing crew to become cyclors – those radical pedallers who powered up the AC50 foiling catamaran.

But now that pedal-power has been ruled out of the 2021 Cup, van Velthooven finds himself on the outside again – but desperate to fight his way back in. With the tables turned, the cyclist is now being taught to be a sailor.

“You get addicted to trying to defy the odds,” he says, after finishing another demanding session in the gym, and looking for breakfast. “It was an awesome experience in Bermuda, and it’s pretty cool to see how the team operates and what they achieved. It’s a cool opportunity to be able to train up to get on the next boat.”

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