Kiwi America's Cup sailors Peter Burling and Blair Tuke were at the centre of the hijinx as the Volvo Ocean Race fleet crossed the Equator.

Burling on board Team Brunel and Tuke on Mapfre received dodgy haircuts as part of traditional celebrations for sailors crossing the Equator for the first time.

A total of 19 sailors made the crossing for the first time and were subjected to hair shaving and being doused in rotting food scraps. It's a long-standing maritime tradition stretching back 400 years and was first used by the British navy in to build morale and to create bonds between crew during long voyages.

Sailors who've not yet crossed from one hemisphere to another are called pollywogs, the scientific name for tadpoles, and are judged by King Neptune, the ancient Roman god of the seas for whatever crimes they might have committed during the voyage. They're then "punished'' usually in the most disgusting way possible, regardless of social class or rank.

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Fish have been stewing with food scraps for days in the tropical heat and then spread over the victims.

Dongfeng team sailor, Kiwi Stu Bannatyne, who has the highest number of Equator crossings in the fleet, was tied to the foredeck of New Zealand Endeavour in 1993 for hours on his first crossing, probably just to rinse him clean after his previous punishment.

Even though the ceremony involves fetid muck and a few dodgy haircuts, it's all clean fun that helps bring the new kids into the Volvo Ocean Race, and mark a huge step in their offshore careers with a long-standing tradition.