Victory choose their grinders

The Swedish AC team go recruiting beefcake sportsmen

Saturday August 3rd 2002, Author: Bert Willborg, Location: Scandinavia
One hundred applied. Ten went through tests in Gothenburg. Two were selected.

Both of them - Henrik Hasselblad, 20, and Sebastian Tenghage, 23, - after additional two weeks of rigorous testing with the Swedish America's Cup Challenge in Auckland have received the news. They will stay on.

The two strong athletes with no real sailing experience are new on the runner grinder position within Victory Challenge.

"It feels great. They're a good bunch with all kinds of personalities", says Henrik Hasselblad, a national rowing champion 16 times.

"This is an interesting but hard adventure that I just couldn't say no to", says Sebastian Tenghage, with six seasons as a ice hockey player in the first division in Sweden.

Henrik Hasselblad's biggest successes have come from rowing. He's won 16 national championships, from youth and junior level up to sprint. He has also won the Nordic championship. Henrik Hasselblad is a member of Mölndal's rowing club. He has also played ice hockey at senior level with the second division team Kållered Icebears the last two seasons. As a 15-16 year old, he represented Gothenburg in a national youth ice hockey championship.

Sebastian Tenghage made his debut for the first team when Hanhals Hockey and Kungsbacka Hockey, south of Gothenburg, merged to become HK-Kings for the 1995/96 season. He was only 16-years old then. He has played in the first division since.

Even though both are hockey players from the Gothenburg area in Sweden they didn't meet until Victory Challenge's physical tests were carried out at the Lundbybadet gym and health centre in Gothenburg in conjunction with the Swedish America's Cup challenger's stay in Sweden this summer.

Otherwise they would have met anyway as HK-Kings and Kållered Icebears will play in the same series when the new season starts in October. Both have now chosen sailing instead of ice hockey.

They have had a certain amount of luck since they arrived at the Victory Challenge base in the America's Cup Village. Weather has been perfect, with a maximum of sailing for Victory Challenge, with multiple possibilities for testing Henrik Hasselblad and Sebastian Tenghage on the runner grind position.

"They came here two weeks ago to our very closely knit group, very strong but with no real sailing experience. It's not without its problems. But they have gone through rigorous tests and done well. They've also discovered muscles they didn't know they had. Now they're ready for the next stage", says Skip Lissiman, coach and responsible for the tests.

"They've met our expectations. They've got the right ambition and attitude. They're ready to fight on. There's not much time left before the Louis Vuitton Cup starts on October 1. It's not known how quickly they will be ready to sail. But the strength they possess is impressive," says Mats Johansson, project manager for the Swedish America's Cup challenge.

They are perfect for Victory Challenges needs, not only in a short-term but also in a long-term view.

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