Did you want the America’s Cup? Now pedal! The ingenious kiwis are back

Featured grinders standing, right knee up, in “bikers” position. Photo Richard Gladwell/Photosport

There were those who were already beginning to worry: tight budgets, delays in the move to Bermuda, the fear was that Team New Zealand was going through some serious difficulties ahead of the next America’s Cup. Don’t worry gentlemen, the kiwis are alive and it looks like they have come up with another one of their own.

In fact, in Auckland the AC 50 with which Team New Zealand will participate in the Louis Vuitton Cup that kicks off May 26 in Bermuda and, if they win, in the America’s Cup against defender Oracle, went on the water. So far, everything would be normal, but the fancy kiwis have added their own twist.

On the AC50s, hydraulics will be essential in order to be able to effectively adjust the live foils and make the maneuvers smooth: a task that will be entrusted to the continuous action of the grinders who will “pump” almost incessantly on the coffees. A drop in pressure in the hydraulic systems can cause a vertical collapse in speed (due to the inability to properly adjust foil trim) or worse situations such as ETNZ’s own near capsize in San Francisco. And here comes the stroke of genius: replacing the classic arm-operated coffee grinders with foot pedals. Indeed, it is no mystery that the legs have more “watts” than the arms: the huge New Zealand grinders will therefore be “comfortably” seated on the AC50 pedaling like obsessives to keep the pressure of the hydraulic systems at maximum pressure at all times and facilitate all the live setups and adjustments. A completely innovative solution? Not really: as one who knows about sailing, Tommaso Chieffi, pointed out, the solution dates back to 1976 by Pelle Petterson.

A revolution? In fact, pending to see the solutions adopted on the other AC50s, it is. Recall that hydraulic systems are one of the two areas, along with appendages, where teams can intervene with customized solutions with respect to everything else on the platform that will be virtually one design.


Land Rover BAR Racing
had instead opted for a classic configuration with regular arm-operated coffee grinders.

In the San Francisco edition of the America’s Cup, as is well known, it was the New Zealanders who experimented with full foiling, foiling jibe and spectacular rolling turns. A series of solutions that forced all the other teams into a long “chase” on performance (dramatically that of Artemis whose first cat imploded trying to foiling and causing the death of poor Andrew Simpson). Could Team New Zealand’s apparent delay then be just a tactic to “hide” from prying eyes? Note the web silence from the team’s official pages on the launch of the new cat.

At this point it will be very interesting to see how the Kiwi “troika, ” consisting of Glenn Ashby, Peter Burling and Blair Tuke, probably the most talented cockpit in the upcoming Cup, will handle the new AC50.

Mauro Giuffrè

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