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Ex-NZ Army soldier completes remarkable transition to become grinder with Team NZ

A couple of months ago 1 NEWS revealed Olympic kayaker Steven Ferguson was set to jump ship to team New Zealand as a grinder for next year's America's Cup defence.

Today he was one of 10 confirmed in the line-up but his back story is trumped by a Kiwi who's grinding career started with an email to the chief operation officer.

Marius van der Pol has served in Iraq and the Solomon Islands and toughing it out with the New Zealand Army has been the perfect preparation for his new challenge.

"I guess it's being stubborn at the end of the day when it sucks there's nothing you can do about it just embrace it and keep going," van der Pol told 1 NEWS

You only have to watch the Team New Zealand grinder trials to see it's not for the faint hearted but van der pol has no sailing experience and no high-performance background.

An unsolicited email to team New Zealand's Kevin Shoebridge somehow starting this remarkable journey.

"Basically, just introduced myself said I was pretty keen on giving it a crack," he said.       

It helps that in a country of top Olympic rowers he holds the national 500 metre indoor rowing record so he was sent to train with Josh Junior.

“The guy just never gave up he went harder and harder and we're like this guy's bloody good so here he is,” Junior told 1 NEWS.

"I was not expecting how hard it would be there's nothing I've done previously that helped me at all it was just a world of hurt,” van der Pol said.

Steven Ferguson spent 25 years of physical pain to become an Olympic swimmer and kayaker but the lure of an America's Cup defence was enough to bring him out of retirement after seven years.

"I always kind of dreamed to one day do this and it's now a reality for me it's such an honour and privilege," Ferguson said.

His recruitment story as serendipitous as van der Pol's.

"I was building a fence and my neighbour Peter Thomas had just started with team NZ and I was chatting with him, next minute he gave me an email to contact Kevin Shoebridge and next minute I'm meeting up with Pete and Blair and training my butt off."

After hours spent grinding in the gym, all of the 10-strong team are now hanging out to get on the new AC75 later this winter.

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Marius van der Pol was unveiled in the 10-man grinding crew despite having no sailing experience. Source: 1 NEWS