Land Rover BAR issued a challenge to leading basketball player, Bobby Portis, to see if he has got what it takes to be a professional sailor.
The 21-year old Chicago Bulls player was put through his paces by the Portsmouth-based team’s head of strength and conditioning, Ben Williams.
Williams, with a background in physical training and rehabilitation, gave Portis some insight into the fitness required to compete at America’s Cup level.
As one of the greatest technical and physical challenges in sport, it demands the fittest athletes to perform at the highest levels for prolonged periods.
After a bespoke sailing workout covering strength, mobility and endurance, Portis then went head-to-head in a grinding challenge with the Land Rover BAR sailing team, and managed to power into second place on the leaderboard – an impressive finish behind the main power house of the team, Freddie Carr.
It was then the turn of the NBA star to put the sailors’ ball skills to the test on a pop-up court in the team’s technical area.
After some shooting practice with Portis, the team attempted the free-throw challenge which put them to the test – and the Bulls player demonstrated why he is labelled ‘an explosive ball of energy’.
‘These guys are endurance athletes and their demonstration showed what it takes to sail these boats at such high speeds, highlighting just how fit they all are,’ said Portis.
‘Joining them to train was great and you can see the pressure, energy and strength they have.
‘They certainly put me through my paces during the training session – but I had them on the court!’
Williams said: ‘Previously, America’s Cup sailors were power and sprint athletes, and now this has changed thanks to the new challenges in today’s boat design.
‘The sailing teams are required to train more like time-trial cyclists.
‘Training with the Chicago basketball players, who are extremely physically fit, demonstrates how powerful and agile the sailors are in order to drive these two-tonne flying boats above the water.
‘The sport of sailing does compete and compare in endurance and strength with many other high profile sports across the world.’
Today’s racing in Chicago gets under way at