America’s Cup - Sport

Rivals want us ‘dead’, say New Zealand

  • Dalton told of the dangers of “being a lone wolf”

It is time. Five of the six America’s Cup Class boats are now on the water in Bermuda.

And the intensity of training has notched up exponentially. Jimmy Spithill, Oracle Team USA’s Skipper says, “The clock is ticking.”

Now turn to Emirates Team New Zealand launching their AC Class yacht in isolation at home in Auckland. Team New Zealand turned the America’s Cup world upside down by introducing innovative pedal mechanisms on their AC Class yacht to pump hydraulics and power on-board systems. They are fine tuning in the New Zealand summer and not arriving in Bermuda until mid-April.

The shift from traditional arm work which produces 200-300 watts of energy to the more explosive option of leg power which produces about 500-600 watts, means more power per grinder and more hydraulic juice to control the appendages and sails.

Their progress is being monitored closely by rivals. Richard Gladwell, Sail-World.com/NZ, reports an opposition spy boat has been spotted tracking New Zealand’s performance.

“The danger of being a lone wolf,” Team New Zealand’s leader Grant Dalton told Stuff.nz.com, “is that there’s a lot of people, not just Oracle [Team USA], that don’t want us to win this time.

“One would hope we don’t get sent to the bottom of the ocean by a boat — ‘Oh, that was a mistake; sorry about that’ — one day with no form of redress in the rule.

“And that’s a very big concern for us. There are five teams that want us dead now, not one, only because we’ve ruined their little parade.”

Dalton was referring to the long-term agreement for the future of the cup reached by the other four challengers and the defender on a timetable for a continuing series of America’s Cup events and the next rendition of the Cup match to use the same AC Class design. It is an issue that the sailing world recognises. If New Zealand win, they want to be able to decide the venue and format with a formal challenger of record.

Meanwhile, Bermudians and island visitors can head out to the Great Sound or Dockyard or Spanish Point almost every day to watch one, two or more teams speeding back and forth, chase boats trying to keep up the pace. It seems like the 50 foot hard-winged catamarans are aimless, but each team has all eyes on the same target ... speed, control and foiling.

Now power comes from hydraulic pumps generated by four grinders each on his own pedestal and single handles. Or it comes from more powerful legs.

Speed, control and power, will they come from hands and arms or from pedals? Only time, the ticking clock, will tell.

For America’s Cup news or updates, Talbot Wilson can be reached at 595-5881 or 278-0143