Team New Zealand's first choice crew appears firmly set in stone ahead of tomorrow's opening races in the America's Cup.

Heading into the event in Bermuda there were only two contestable positions in the six-strong crew aboard Emirates Team New Zealand with skipper and wing trimmer Glenn Ashby, helmsman Peter Burling and flight controller/cyclor Blair Tuke filling the core roles.

Andy Maloney, who narrowly missed out on the Laser spot at last year's Olympics, is also a stalwart on board. Maloney's chief duty is providing pedal power to maintain the hydraulic pressure which fuels the control systems to the high-tech foiling catamarans, but he also assists Tuke in trimming the foils.

Maloney, who stacked on 18kg for his role as one of the power men on board, controls the flight of the boat during the tacks while Tuke is transitioning between hulls.


The remaining two spots at the front of the boat are shared among the team's rotating cast of "cyclors". Their sole job is to pedal as hard as they can, for as long as they can.

During Team NZ's challenger finals match-ups against Ben Ainslie Racing and Artemis, Josh Junior and former sprint cyclist Simon van Velthooven spent the most time in the saddle, indicating they are the first choice line-up.

With the crews racing up to three times a day during the challenger finals, Junior, who represented New Zealand in the Finn class at the Rio Olympics last year, was swapped out for Carlo Huisman during certain races.

Van Velthooven, meanwhile, was used interchangeably with Olympic rowing champion Joe Sullivan.

Team NZ has two further back-up cyclors in Guy Endean and Sam Bell. Swapping out crew can be a fine balancing act, as the team also needs to meet the weight rules on board.

The rules for the 35th America's Cup dictate that the maximum combined weight limit for the six-person crew is 525kg, but there is no minimum weight.

Cyclors lose their senses providing pedal power

Olympic rowing champion turned America's Cup cyclor Joe Sullivan has admitted to some unpleasant side effects of his power work in Bermuda.

As Team New Zealand prepare for the first-to-seven Cup match against Oracle Team USA, starting tomorrow morning, Sullivan and fellow former Olympian, sprint cyclist Simon van Velthooven have given an insight into what the cyclors go through in a race.

Both were used to experiencing pain in their previous sporting careers. Even so, it takes some managing.

Van Velthooven said Sullivan, double sculling gold medallist at the 2012 London Olympics with Nathan Cohen, loses his sense of taste when driving himself hard during racing.

"You can lose your sight a bit towards the end and you definitely lose your hearing a little bit," Sullivan said. "It's just putting yourself into pain. In rowing, it is pretty easy. As soon as you start the race, you're hitting the red zone. You're in a lot of pain and it's just about managing it and keeping in that zone where you don't fail and can keep pushing.

"In sailing, it's much the same. You're really pushing everything you've got. You have to be really single focused, nothing else matters apart from that one goal of putting out as much power as you can."

Van Velthooven, London keirin bronze medallist, went a step further.

"When he goes into those dark places, he doesn't know what's going on and sometimes in training, he can't see after doing a big effort," he said of Sullivan. "He knows how to push himself, but when you're pushing as hard as you can and you're told it's time to run across the boat, you've got to keep conscious 100 per cent or you're falling off the front or back."

Van Velthooven said the physical exertion is different to riding a bike.

"You're pulling and pushing a dead weight, so you need to train the right muscle for the right movement. It was a learning curve for me as well as the team to train your body to power the pump."

Sullivan said the cyclors needed plenty of recovery time.

"It hurts a lot, definitely destroys muscle, and it's not something you can do a lot over and over."

Team NZ crew

The regulars

Glenn Ashby - skipper and wing trimmer

Peter Burling - helmsman

Blair Tuke - flight controller/cyclor

Andy Maloney - cyclor

The rotating cyclors:
Josh Junior
Simon van Velthooven
Joe Sullivan
Carlo Huisman