Spithill plays down pedal power at launch
Jimmy Spithill, the Oracle Team USA skipper, played down the hype surrounding Emirates Team New Zealand’s radical America’s Cup Class catamaran at last night’s unveiling of his team’s boat at the Royal Naval Dockyard.
Photographs have surfaced from Auckland of the Kiwis’ ACC boat fitted with four cycle pedestals on each hull for their grinders rather than the conventional arm-driven grinders.
The grinders provide hydraulic power for the rigid wing-sail and various other systems, and the leg power is expected to ease the physical burden on the crew.
However, Spithill, the youngest skipper to win the America’s Cup, believes the cycle pedestals will put Emirates Team New Zealand at a disadvantage more than anything else.
“We looked at it hard, as I know all the teams did, and it’s a compromise,” he said. “Nothing is straightforward.
“You can get more power on the pedal, but there’s other compromises. You take windage and it’s a little harder getting on and off the pedals, so personally I don’t think that decision will be the deciding factor.
“We looked at it hard to see how it works out and they are the only team to do it so far from what we’ve seen. We haven’t seen Artemis’s boat yet, but I don’t think they would have done it.
“Whether it will be a good decision only time will tell and really until we see them sailing up here in the Great Sound we won’t really have any idea of where they’re at.”
Oracle threw a party at their team base last night for the unveiling of their racing foiler, simply dubbed “No 17”, which is the culmination of 80,000-plus man hours.
“Tonight we’re celebrating more than two years of innovation, of thought and of hard work which went into creating this yacht,” Grant Simmer, the Oracle general manager, said at the ceremony.
“Tonight we want to thank all of the designers, the sailors, the boat builders, the technicians that worked so hard to develop the boat.”
Oracle, the two-times defending America’s Cup champions, are expected to launch their ACC boat in the water next week.
“It looks like a weapon and like all the sailors you really anticipate this moment and our entire team has done an incredible job getting it to this stage,” Spithill said.
“Now we have to get it on the water and take it to the next level. That’s going to be the most fundamental part; who develops their programme and who really outlearns he competition.
“This really is chapter one now for this boat and for the guys the keys now get handed over to the sailing team and we need to get this thing out on the water and really put some hours in.
“I think the team that develops their ACC boat quicker than anyone else, they will win the America’s Cup. Obviously that starts now but it doesn’t stop once you get to the racing period.
“The whole way through the round robins, challenger series all the way up right up until that last race of the America’s Cup and we only have to look back to San Francisco to see how important it was to keep that development going.”
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