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Public invited to tackle Grinding Challenge

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America's Cup teams compete in the Grinding Challenge. Oracle Team USA's Louis Sinclair was crowned champion (Photograph by Blaire Simmons)

The fittest of the fit flexed their muscles yesterday as the America’s Cup Community Grinding Challenge got under way.

Now, after the Cup’s “ironmen” displayed their strength and endurance, it is the public’s chance to show whether they have what it takes to be a part of the most gruelling aspect of America’s Cup competition.

The grinding contest formally kicked off at the Bermuda College as part of Science Week, with crew from the various teams competing for the title of Best America’s Cup Grinder.

Andreas Axelsson of Artemis Racing, Neil Hunter of Land Rover BAR, Louis Sinclair of Oracle Team USA and Yuki Kasatani of SoftBank Team Japan met the challenge, with Oracle’s Sinclair taking the top prize, toppling Artemis’s Axelsson in the final round.

Looking on were students from the island’s middle and senior schools who were later treated to flag signings and photos with the elite sailors.

But, soon, they and other members of the public will be invited to take on the challenge themselves in a “road show” of events, starting at Berkeley Institute and CedarBridge Academy. The grinders will then move on to the Ag Show from April 20 to 22 at the America’s Cup Endeavour Programme’s booth, and then to the St George’s Marine Expo on April 30. The final stop will be at Harbour Nights on May 10.

A spokeswoman said: “This will allow members of the public to try out the grinder and log their best time. In addition to logging your best time, it’s also a fitness test. However, you do not have to be superfit or a gym member to participate.

“The grinder itself captures and logs all data. It captures the amount of spins or rounds per minutes and the energy that’s being generated. Each participant will be on the machine between 10 and 20 seconds, depending on how challenging it is.”

Tom Herbert-Evans, community sailing manager at the America’s Cup Event Authority, said: “The Community Grinding Challenge is a fun way for the Bermuda public to be intimately involved with the America’s Cup.

“The grinders are the fittest sailors on each America’s Cup boat and we invite the community to step into their shoes in order to understand how fit they have to be.

“This is a great opportunity to have a bit of fun, test out your fitness and win great prizes. We encourage everyone in the community to attend one of the events where the challenge will be taking place and give it your best shot.”

Those who take part in the challenge will be grouped into three categories depending on their age, with the top three entrants in each category invited to participate in the finals during the opening weekend of the America’s Cup.

For more information and updates, visit the ACBDA’s Facebook page or their website at www.acbda.bm.

Louis Sinclair of Oracle Team USA and Andreas Axelsson of Artemis Racing tackle the Grinding Challenge.