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Leading Kiwi sailor Liv Mackay had her first run at the helm of the America's Cup AC40. Photo / Adam Mustill, America's Cup

Kiwis unleash future America's Cup stars

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Kiwis have been offered a rare glimpse into Emirates Team New Zealand’s America’s Cup future with several next-generation sailors this week briefly taking charge of the team’s AC40.

Top Kiwi sailors Liv Mackay, Sam Meech and Marcus Hansen were given the opportunity to show what they could do aboard the one-design 40-ft flying monohull during testing for the Cup defence in Barcelona in 2024.

“It was my first time helming on the AC40. It was an amazing day for me, and I was so stoked being out there,” said Mackay, who is set to feature in next year’s Women’s America’s Cup and is also part of the New Zealand SailGP team and helm of the Live Ocean Racing team.

“We've been spending a lot of time in the last week getting ready for some time on the water and it feels like it's really coming together. It’s a good programme and I’m really excited to get some time on these boats and yeah just feel super lucky to be learning off the guys and then hopefully adding some value.”

Wednesday’s test run follows a heart-stopping moment only days earlier when the team suffered a nosedive and capsize while rounding a mark in the Waitematā Harbour.

While there was no injury or damage to crew or boat, the crash was a timely reminder of how hard it is to sail the AC40, wing trimmer Blair Tuke said.

“The wind was sort of going anywhere between six and maybe 14 knots … and just hit us just as we were bearing away, and we didn’t quite adjust on the controls.

“But yeah, it reminds you that the boat’s pretty hard to sail. But nice to get back up and carry on sailing after that and get a couple more laps in.

On Thursday, Team NZ also announced four new recruits for their Cup defence – including three-time Olympic gold medallist rower Hamish Bond.

Bond, who also won road cycling bronze at the 2018 Commonwealth Games, has been included as a cyclor along with Dougal Allan, Louis Crosby and Cameron Webster.

“I’m really excited to join,” Bond, 36, said. “It’s something that I was aware of on the radar when I officially retired from rowing but to have the stars align and be asked to trial for the team and be selected is something that I’m really excited about.

“I’ve got memories of the America’s Cup going all the way back to Sir Peter Blake and the red socks. I remember being on the side of the road during my cycling stint in the UK in a van, watching Pete and the team in Bermuda win the Cup back, so to think that’s going to be part of my story now is really exciting.”

Simon van Velthooven, Louis Sinclair, Hansen and Marius van der Pol have been retained from the team that retained the Auld Mug in 2021.

Meech, who won bronze in the Laser at the Rio Games in 2016, has also joined.