Emirates Team New Zealand took the America’s Cup world by surprise when they launched their race boat on Valentine’s Day with bicycle grinding stations.
Why is wing trimmer Glenn Ashby looking at the wing? You can see him doing the same thing in the videos. In 2009, Oracle Racing’s wing designer Scott Ferguson had to convince the sailors to trim by the numbers, not the shape of the wing. He made his point by asking them if they had ever seen a pilot looking out the window to adjust the flaps on an airplane. So what is Glenn looking at?
ETNZ’s design coordinator Dan Bernasconi explains how they developed their design. Video includes a clip showing tests they did between arm and leg grinding.
Back to 1851?
If she is right, then we are all wrong.
All the other teams evaluated using bicycle grinding stations but rejected the idea. The others decided that the improved power output was not worth the problems with crew mobility. It’s harder to get off and on bike grinders during manoeuvres. In 1851, Lord Uxbridge, 1st Marquess of Anglesey and a founding member of the Royal Yacht Squadron, on seeing “America’s” design, remarked, “If she is right, then we are all wrong.” We may be hearing those words again in 2017!
Bicycle grinders have been tried before in the America’s Cup. In 1977, Pelle Petterson’s 12 meter “Sverige” had bicycle grinding stations below deck. They did not work out well, since the crew had a wider range of tasks than today’s America’s Cup Class grinders. And offshore single-handed sailors have used bicycle grinders, especially when shaking out a reef in the mainsail.
The bicycle grinders are not the only surprise. We’ll have to investigate how Glenn Ashby trims the wing, but there is no winch on the deck.
And, this is a pretty extreme shape for the daggerboard wing. Richard Gladwell reported that the Kiwis were foiling smoothly in as little as four knots of wind.
More about aircraft wing shapes and configurations in a good Wikipedia article here.