GRINDERS: Top of the food chain

Published on March 19th, 2013

In the latest of our insights into the four 34th America’s Cup teams we take a look at the role of the grinding teams who provide the raw power required to get the boats around the course.

Sail Racing Magazine editor Justin Chisholm sat down with Artemis Racing’s core grinding unit, Craig Monk, Chris Brittle and Magnus Augustson to find out more about this critical and demanding role…
* You guys are the core Artemis Racing grinding team, but like all the 34th America’s Cup teams, virtually everyone on the boat is a grinder at some point?

Craig Monk: [Laughing] Yes. It seems everyone has taken an interest in grinding now. Finally the grinders have risen to the top of the sport and we are running the ship.

Chris Brittle: We are obviously the biggest guys and you need the core grinders for the power, but we also have to be able to control the winches in terms of what is being ground at what point. The other guys join in to help but they also are doing their other jobs too so they are coming in and out all the time.

* What are the main differences in being a grinder on an AC72 compared to the monohulls of old?

Craig Monk: There are many. Today, it is so totally different that sailing these boats is almost a different sport.

In the old days, you didn’t move on the boat, other than to go up and down – you didn’t really even move laterally on the boat. Now, it is vital that you have a feel for the boat as well.

In the old days you needed to be explosive, you could be physically heavier, and of course the races went for two hours or more.

* Tell us about the decision making requirements on you as grinders?

Chris Brittle: Well there are a lot of them on our boat! We have to do more than the other teams at the moment because we have runners and because of the particular way our boards work.

We started out with boards that you can adjust the cant, as well as moving them up and down. Then we have runners, plus you have the wing and the jib and the trimming of the Zero. So, all in all, it is definitely a tough boat to sail.

Much more… read on.

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