Pride Of Picton’s done it again!

Joseph Sullivan’s already has a street named after him in Picton and surely now it’s time to go one step further and commission a statue saluting his phenomenal sporting achievements.

The former Queen Charlotte College and Picton Rowing club super star added a second Americas Cup yachting trophy to his already amazing list of achievements last month as a crew member of the magnificent Emirates Team New Zealand boat Te Rehutai which downed challengers Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli 7-3 in the final.

Add in five World rowing titles and an Olympic Games rowing gold medal equals membership into an elite sporting club, those who have won Olympic gold medals, the Americas Cup trophy then defended the trophy.

All four are Kiwis with Sullivan’s fellow Emirates Team New Zealand crew mates Peter Burling and Blair Tuke plus Russell Coutts completing the A list.

Speaking a few days after the Kiwi triumph last month and still very much on a high, Sullivan summed up his feelings by saying, “The last two years have been insane. I don’t reflect too much but when I do sit down and think about it I’ve done pretty much what most five year old boys dream of doing in New Zealand. Become a fireman, gone to the Olympics and sailed the Americas cup. I just missed the All Blacks.

"Winning the Americas Cup in Bermuda then defending it in Auckland were two quite different experiences".

Winning the Americas Cup in Bermuda then defending it in Auckland were two quite different experiences. For a start he was a ground breaking cycling grinder in Bermuda then had to adapt again to the traditional grinders role in Auckland where generating the power to make the boat fly comes mainly from the arms. Both roles were physically gruelling but his rowing background and fiercely competitive attitude obviously helped significantly.

“The traditional grinding is pretty brutal on the arms but the cycling, because you can get so much more power out of yourself, your body is just destroyed afterwards. You definitely don’t produce the same amount of power out of traditional grinding”.

“It’s similar to rowing, you are cooked for the whole race trying to produce power for the boys. You do get a few opportunities to recover on the straight line sections but you are just always sitting in that threshold zone, taking any little rest you can to keep pushing it through.”

While rowing he said is basically six minutes of hell being at your absolute maximum the whole way along the course, in sailing it’s slightly different. “In sailing you know you have to survive 25 minutes going around the course. You can’t just go for six minutes then pass out. “You’ve almost got to pace yourself a bit better. Most of the time we are building hydraulic pressure so we are pumping fluid. “Everything Pete (skipper Peter Burling) requests we are pushing the oil through for him to use it.”

The setup he said was slightly different in Bermuda where the cycle grinders were keeping the fluid levels topped up whereas this time it was a more direct drive system. “We had a little screen in front of us telling us what we needed, how much pressure we needed to have in the boat.”

In Bermuda with the cycle grinders much higher up near the deck, Sullivan said you could feel the exhilaration of the catamarans flying along but with the mono hull, they were situated much lower down deeper inside the boat. “You almost don’t know what’s happening your’e just doing everything you can until the end of the race. They are extreme machines.”

Despite their convincing 7-3 final series victory over Italian challenger Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, Sullivan said Te Rehutai still had significant untapped potential.

“It definitely helped (sailing on home waters) but people like Jimmy Spithill (Luna Rossa skipper) live in New Zealand quite often. They know the conditions just as well as we do”.

“The boat was designed for all conditions but there is a trade off. You can’t be the best in all conditions. The Italians had a really good set up for light winds and they could take us out on the odd day. In the higher winds you would really have seen what our boat could have done. It had some absolute power in it especially over 14 knots. It was an absolute weapon.”

Home town advantage was significant emotionally, Sullivan said but it came down to the relentless hard work, long hours and genius of the design and boat building team and everyone in the organisation doing such a fantastic job that really made the difference.

“It definitely helped (sailing on home waters) but people like Jimmy Spithill (Luna Rossa skipper) live in New Zealand quite often. They know the conditions just as well as we do”.

While the Americas Cup has long been the domain of billionaire owners, Kiwi ingenuity played a big part in this success.

“The Americas cup is something special to all New Zealanders. It’s truly a billionaires game but then we are a small little country. “Hundreds of suppliers and small businesses helped us achieve what we needed to. We don’t always have the biggest budget but we make smarter decisions because we don’t have the millions of dollars just to play with. We had to really focus on the small things and get them right.”

Having crowds out on the course and to cheer them on back onshore was definitely a highlight for Sullivan, especially with his family among them.

“There were three or four thousand spectator boats on the water most days. Then all the people lining the shore and in the village when we came in. Having everyone out there was just incredible.

During the finals buildup Sullivan and his wife Jordyn welcomed their second daughter Isabelle into the world and dad was very quick to praise mum’s support. “Jordyn’s worked just as hard if not harder than me. She’s been unbelievable.”

“Not many events I’ve had all my family at the big events watching. The rowing World Cup at Lake Karapiro in 2010 was the last time. “Nothing kind of beats a home crowd like I experienced at the Rowing World champs in 2010. It’s something special getting out there and performing in front of your home country. The support we got was insane.”

During the finals buildup Sullivan and his wife Jordyn welcomed their second daughter Isabelle into the world and dad was very quick to praise mum’s support. “Jordyn’s worked just as hard if not harder than me. She’s been unbelievable.”

And a few words on two of the key men in this latest Americas cup competition. Emirates Team New Zealand boss, the long serving Grant Dalton. “He’s definitely a straight shooter and lets you know what he thinks without any hesitation which sometimes bites him in the arse but it’s got him a long way.” Sullivan said Dalton has huge respect among the Americas cup community.

As for skipper of Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli, Jimmy Spithill who likened his campaign as “Like turning up to a gun fight with a knife”. Sullivan said, “He’s definitely a good bloke. It’s one of those Kiwi and Aussie love/hate rivalries. If you swapped him over and Jimmy was a Kiwi he’d be the most loved person in New Zealand.”

While very keen to be part of the next Team New Zealand campaign, Sullivan said he’ll be going back to his regular job as a fireman in Auckland but first he’s taking the family in an extended camper van holiday around New Zealand’s South Island.

My wife (Jordyn) hasn’t seen much of the South Island coming from Tauranga and the girls (18 month old Amelia and new baby Isabelle) definitely haven’t.

Asked to sum up why he’s been so successful in two such contrasting sports, the typically humble champion said, “I think I’ve just been at the right place at the right time and just taken my opportunities when they’ve come.”

Interview & Story by John Alexander | Supporting Images/Video sourced by Absolutely Famous.

Share:

Comments are closed.

Search

Social Media

THE LATEST

BLEDISLOE MISERY CONTINUES FOR OUT-GUNNED WALLABIES

It wasn’t anywhere near a perfect performance from the All Blacks in Melbourne last Saturday but it was far too good for the struggling Wallabies and the final 38-7 scoreline accurately reflected the superiority

Categories

Related Posts

Shopping Basket