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America’s Cup champion shares his journey

7 August 2017

America’s Cup champion shares his journey and success inspiring Pathway to Podium athletes

70 invited guests, including Wellington’s Pathway to Podium athletes, attended a function at the Royal Port Nicholson Yacht Squadron on the 3rd of August to hear Josh Junior, cyclor for Emirates Team New Zealand speak. Organised by Sport Wellington, NewstalkZB’s Jason Pine interviewed Junior on his America’s Cup journey asking questions on the highs, the lows and the success, as well as tips that our up-coming Pathway to Podium (P2P) athletes can learn from his experiences.

Having represented New Zealand at the 2016 Rio Olympics in the heavy weight men’s dinghy Finn event helped to prepare Junior for the pressure of his first America’s Cup campaign, dealing with the expectations, performing under pressure and remaining composed – whatever the situation.

When asked about the hard work that was required to be put in for the Cup, Junior told the audience that, “It wasn’t a job, it was a passion. I was enjoying what I was doing and the people I was with, so it didn’t seem like hard work. The enjoyment is a key part of having longevity in your sport. That’s the cool thing about sailing, even after a big thing like the America’s Cup, we’re all sailors who just really enjoy being out on the water.”

Other questions asked of Junior by the athletes included “how did you balance school work and training?” How did you handle the stress?” “How did you know that sailing was the sport you really wanted to focus on and take to this level?”

Lewis Clareburt, one of the P2P athletes present, just back from winning two medals at the Youth Commonwealth Games in the Bahamas, commented that “It was a very inspiring night and being able to ask Josh questions and have a chat to him in person was awesome.”

As well as answering these questions and providing insights into the training that was required, attendees heard some of what went on behind the scenes - both in the build up to the Cup, including spies placed in Bermuda in the year before to follow up on competing teams, and during the event, like what led to the capsize incident.
The 27 year old is now creating new goals as he looks ahead to competing in the 2020 Olympic Games in Tokyo, Japan.

Junior commented that “The difference between training for the Olympics and the America’s Cup, is that for the Olympics you spend a long time training to get to that point. It’s more selfish because you’re doing it for yourself whereas with the Cup it is very much a team event, you’re all pulling together. I loved both experiences, they’re both amazing to be a part of and having participated in an Olympics helped me to cope with the pressure of the America’s Cup.”

An announcement by High Performance Sport New Zealand in December saw sailing secure a significant increase in core funding. Sailing was one of New Zealand’s success stories at the 2016 Games, collecting four medals to equal the tally won in 1992 in Barcelona. Ian Neely, Yachting New Zealand acting high performance director said that, together with the high number of returning athletes, puts them in a good place to achieve more success in Tokyo in 2020.

Parameters and proposed dates for the 36th America’s Cup will be released in September 2017, with the possibility of it being conducted in Auckland in early 2021 currently under consideration. Junior said, “In the next two months decisions need to be made around the design of the boat for the 2021 campaign. I don’t know if the bikes will be on there again, that’s something they need to decide on”.

Hometown hero, Junior grew up in Wellington and took to sailing at the young age of just five years. Although away a lot, he still proudly represents the capital city's Worser Bay Boating Club and has recently taken on the role of ‘Boat & Beach wise Ambassador’ for them. A local safety campaign initiative which they’re hoping will also be taken up nationally.

Josh Junior left for his next adventure, the Extreme Sailing Series on Sunday. Using a boat similar to the America’s Cup Junior will be part of the team as a skipper in Hamburg, Germany and Cardiff in the United Kingdom.


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