Emirates Team New Zealand bank on pedal power for new America's Cup raceboat
It seems Emirates Team New Zealand are hoping pedal power could give them a grinding advantage over the other five teams challenging to win the 35th America’s Cup in Bermuda this summer.
The Kiwi team sailed their America’s Cup class boat in Auckland today ahead of an official launch scheduled for Thursday this week. Pictures taken by Sail World reporter Richard Gladwell clearly showed four sets of upright, cycling-style, grinding ‘pedalstals’ on each hull of the catamaran.
In the modern-day America’s Cup, whoever can most effectively pump hydraulic oil to the systems that control their boat’s wingsail and swiftly raise and lower its foil daggerboards, could have a huge performance advantage.
Up to now hydraulic pressure on the new generation of America’s Cup Class yachts has been manually created by pairs of sailors grinding away with their arms on pedestal winches.
The thinking behind the latest Kiwi development appears to be that four sailors at a time can be deployed on four individual ‘pedalstals’, utilising their much stronger leg muscles to pump oil around the system faster.
British skipper Ben Ainslie was recently quoted in an interview with The Times newspaper suggesting that the America’s Cup would come down to the relative efficiency of the teams’ hydraulic systems.
Running out of oil pressure in the heat of a match race could prevent a team from pulling off a required manoeuvre like a tack, gybe or mark rounding and effectively lose them the race.
How much of a game changer Emirates Team New Zealand’s saddle riding grinders will turn out to be is impossible to say at this point, but the move is likely to have put the cat amongst the pigeons out in Bermuda this evening.