Bachelor of Sport and Recreation student Hubert Woroniecki is in San Francisco to help Emirates Team New Zealand bring back the America’s Cup.
After helping the team with a specific research project as part of his third year placement at AUT’s Sport Performance Research in New Zealand (SPRINZ), Woroniecki is now considered a team member says Emirates Team NZ physical trainer David Slyfield.
“As a student Hubert has gone far beyond expectation and has taken the opportunity to totally immerse himself in our campaign. He comes in here nearly every day, often getting here before myself and the sailors,” says Slyfield, who initiated the relationship with AUT.
“We wanted a collaborative partnership with SPRINZ, so we could do research that would be useful in designing training programmes for the team. So it has been a win-win relationship.”
The project Hubert is working on has involved monitoring the heart rates of the team members while they are racing. Team physical trainers then use that data to design sailing-specific programmes, which are conducted in the Emirates Team NZ gym on Auckland’s Wynyard Wharf.
Beyond the heart rate project, Woroniecki’s role has expanded to helping with other physical conditioning roles including boxing drills and supervising weight training.
“I’ve loved every minute of it. I do boxing myself so to be able to do it an environment like this with some of New Zealand’s top athletes is brilliant,” says Woroniecki.
“It’s been really interesting because you have a real range of body shapes and some immensely strong guys. They are all good athletes with good strength and agility.”
Slyfield says the team does a range of sessions where the intensity will go up and down every few minutes. “They don’t know exactly what’s happening during a session and there is some confusion so it replicates, as close as possible, what’s happening during a race. When you sail one of these boats you really have to think on your feet.”
Emirates working with SPRINZ
Woroniecki’s supervisor, Associate Professor Andrew Kilding at SPRINZ says Emirates Team NZ has been great to work with. “They have been very clear on the questions they wanted to answer. The research project has provided Hubert with a fantastic learning opportunity while obviously benefitting the team with the data that comes out of it.”
“The changing nature of America’s Cup sailing, especially the new boats, is a challenge for sport scientists,” he says. “Gaining a clearer understanding of the physical loads sailors are under, and how best to prepare them for actual competition is a critical part of the performance jigsaw.”