America's Cup: Olympic rowing great Hamish Bond one of four new faces to join Team New Zealand for 2024 defence

Kiwi Olympic icon Hamish Bond is one of four new recruits for Team New Zealand's defence of the America's Cup in Barcelona next year.

Three-time Olympic gold medallist Bond has joined the Auld Mug holders as a cyclor after a selection process in late 2022.

"I'm just really thrilled, I guess, to get the opportunity," Bond told Newshub. "It's got a massive legacy, Emirates Team New Zealand.

"To think that could be part of my story is really exciting. [It's] a great opportunity, and one more chapter in the book - so to speak."

The recruitment signals the return of Team New Zealand's cyclors, first seen for the 2017 challenge in Bermuda on the AC50 boat, but they weren't part of the successful defence in 2021. 

Hamish Bond.
Hamish Bond. Photo credit: Getty Images

Despite vast experience and knowledge of high performance sport - representing New Zealand in both rowing and cycling at the Olympics and Commonwealth Games - Bond affirms he's prepared to take a backseat to his more seasoned colleagues.

"[I know] very little," Bond told Newshub. "I've followed the Cups, I can recall the 1995 Cup with [Sir] Peter Blake and the red socks.

"I've followed every iteration of the Cup, the whole way through. I roughly know my gybes from my tacks, and that's about it.

"I really don't know much about sailing, but to be honest, in terms of the role I'm required to perform, I need a basic understanding of the boat from a safety point of view.

"But in terms of ability to sail, I'm not making any decisions - I'm just sitting there trying to ride my bike and trying to provide as much power as possible when it's required.

"There's very little learning, other than the basics, that I can do. It's like rolling a go-kart down a hill, and then being given the keys to a Formula One car.

"It's just not going to be that much use to you."

Bond, 36, is one of the most successful athletes in New Zealand history.

Alongside Eric Murray, Bond formed the most successful rowing men's pair in the history of the sport, winning Olympic gold in 2012 and 2016. Together, Bond and Murray won 69 consecutive races, with a further seven world championship titles.

Then, in 2021, Bond won a third Olympic gold as part of the men's eight before retiring from the sport altogether in January 2022.

Away from rowing, Bond also enjoyed success as a track cyclist.

Team New Zealand win the America's Cup (2021).
Team New Zealand win the America's Cup (2021). Photo credit: Photosport

Before joining the men's eight, Bond won a Commonwealth Games bronze medal on the bike in 2018, as well as an Oceania Championships gold medal that same year, both in the time trial.

At the start of 2023, Bond was named as a companion of the New Zealand Order of Merit for his achievements.

Bond's addition has been welcomed by the existing members of the team.

"It's certainly pretty exciting to have Hamish join the team," flight controller Blair Tuke told Newshub. "He's obviously an amazing athlete. It's going to add a heck of a lot of power and strength to the team.

"We've been talking to Hamish for the good part of six months. The tests that they went through were in December, but before that Hamish had been getting himself prepped on the watt bike.

"He obviously put in a great test in December as you'd expect, [it was] pretty impressive."

Aside from Bond, Team New Zealand also welcomed three more new recruits, all having achieved success in other sports.

Former multisport athlete Dougal Allan, 37, makes the switch to Team New Zealand, boasting more than 15 years of experience at the highest level.   

Allan has won New Zealand's famous Coast to Coast race twice, and holds the course record for the Challenge Wanaka triathlon.

Former cyclist Louis Crosby is another new recruit, bringing his experience on the bike to his new role as a cyclor.

Like Allan, 33-year-old Crosby also boasts multisport experience, as well as having competed on the US and South-East Asia cycling circuits with Pure Black Racing.

Former rower Cameron Webster is the final addition to the cyclors. The 28-year-old joins the team after a five-year stint with New Zealand's elite rowing programme, having called time on his career in the boat last year.

Team New Zealand are no strangers to looking to other sports to bolster its own ranks.

In 2017, Olympic gold medal winning rower Joe Sullivan and bronze medal winning cyclist Simon van Velthooven traded their respective sports to join Team New Zealand for the Bermuda campaign. 

This time around, the team will be hoping for repeat success in Barcelona.

Team New Zealand's 2024 crew will be led by skipper Peter Burling and the returning Tuke, Glenn Ashby, Nathan Outteridge, Andy Maloney and Josh Junior.