Team New Zealand have expanded their crew ahead of the 35th America's Cup, snapping up two more members of the New Zealand Sailing Team.
The Kiwi syndicate today announced the signings of Andy Maloney and Josh Junior, who will make the leap from dinghy sailing to grinding duties on board Team NZ's high-powered catamaran.
Junior campaigned in the Laser class for London 2012, before going on to switch to the heavy-weight men's Finn class in which he has excelled, producing some career best performances in 2015 and 2016 and competing in the last Olympics finishing seventh.
Maloney, who campaigned for Rio in the Laser class, just missed out on a spot in the New Zealand Olympic team to eventual bronze medallist, Sam Meech.
Since that disappointment Maloney has thrown himself into the challenge of training for a place on board Team NZ, adding 10kg in muscle to his frame in a bid to bulk up for a grinding role. The America's Cup race boats will have just six crew, with four of those positions likely to be for grinders.
For both Junior and Maloney, joining Team NZ is the first step to realising a 20 year dream after, at the age of five, watching their country winning the America's Cup for the first time.
"It's a dream come true," said Maloney.
"Sailing for Emirates Team New Zealand has always been a huge goal of mine. It's been awesome watching the America's Cup evolve over the past few cycles, and now to be sailing on the high performance foiling machines for this 35th America's Cup is just epic."
Maloney is yet another member of the winning New Zealand Red Bull Youth America's Cup Team from San Francisco in 2013, now joining Peter Burling, Blair Tuke and Guy Endean as part of the Emirates Team New Zealand America's Cup sailing team.
In the transition from the 34th to 35th America's Cup campaign Team NZ chief executive Grant Dalton knew it was vital to continue to bring some of the huge pool of young New Zealand sailing talent through the ranks if the team wanted to stay at the forefront of world sailing.
With up to three races scheduled a day during next year's challenger "play-offs" in Bermuda, it is likely grinders will have to be rotated in order to keep the crew fresh.
"Experience remains a crucial ingredient of this America's Cup but these catamarans are also incredibly demanding physically. These guys are young and powerful, but will have to work hard to learn everything about sailing in the America's Cup. They have the raw talent and motivation as well as some pretty valuable experienced guys like Glenn Ashby and Ray Davies to guide them."
Dalton said joining Team NZ will be a big challenge for the two young sailors because the transition from Olympic sailing to being part of a large, structured sailing team will not be easy. They will have to soak up the knowledge and the experience within the team and push hard for a place on the America's Cup boat.
Junior acknowledges it has been a steep learning curve for him.
"We are not just involved in the sailing side; 10 per cent of our time is on the water, the remaining 90 per cent we are in the shed, in the gym or helping out the boat builders. Learning everyday from the best guys in their respective fields be it engineers, designers or sailors is just awesome. A huge challenge and an honour at the same time," he said.