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Powering the Next AC75s

Published on June 21st, 2022

Will it be grinders or cyclors in the next America’s Cup? Good question. And there is no right answer. Report by Justin Chisholm for Sailing World:

When Emirates Team New Zealand arrived in Bermuda in 2017 for the 35th America’s Cup, they ­spectacularly wrong-footed their rivals when they unveiled a mini peloton of four “cyclors” pumping away on a row of fixed bikes instead of a ­traditional grinding team. Using legs rather than arms to power the hydraulic systems aboard the AC50 catamaran turned out to be a game-changing move. With a steady supply of oil pressure, the New Zealand crew could execute any maneuver they chose and twist their wingsail into speed-enhancing configurations that other teams could not match.

Cyclors were prohibited aboard the AC75s introduced by the New Zealanders for their defense at the 36th America’s Cup in Auckland, but they could be back on board for the 37th edition in Barcelona, Spain, in 2024. All five America’s Cup syndicates are tight-lipped about which direction they will be taking for their ­power-generation systems for AC37, but all of them are looking seriously at using pedal power, particularly given crew numbers have been reduced from 11 to eight, with only four sailors allowed to produce the power required to run the flying boat’s complex systems.

Tim Meldrum is a mechanical engineer with Emirates Team New Zealand and was a key member of the group that developed the Kiwi’s original cyclors’ mechanical system. He agrees the crew number reduction and the benefit of using legs rather than arms means teams will all be ­seriously assessing this approach.

“What was a six- to eight-person power-delivery group is now a maximum of four, and that’s a significant reduction,” Meldrum says. “Teams will need to review what tasks are managed by each ­person. There is still the need to steer, trim sails, control flight and navigate, so at a bare minimum, two of the eight will be needed for those tasks. Throw in tacking and jibing, and the question of split roles or transitional handovers also comes into the mix.” – Full report

Following the publication of the AC37 Protocol and AC75 Class Rule on November 17, 2021, the AC75 Class Rule and AC Technical Regulations were finalized on March 17, 2022. The entry period opened December 1, 2021 and runs until July 31, 2022, but late entries for the 37th America’s Cup may be accepted until May 31, 2023. The Defender was to announce the Match Venue on September 17, 2021 but postponed the venue reveal, confirming it would be Barcelona on by March 30, 2022.

Teams revealed to challenge defender Emirates Team New Zealand (NZL):
• INEOS Britannia (GBR)
• Alinghi Red Bull Racing (SUI)
• Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli Team (ITA)
• NYYC American Magic (USA)

Training timeline:
Additional details:

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