HYDRAULICS AND CYCLING THE NEW LITTLE ENGINE THAT COULD The racing is done, the hype has hit another gear and by the time you read this Emirates Team New Zealand will have brought the Auld Mug back home from Bermuda. Skipper Glenn Ashby and helmsman Peter Burling’s crew – and it’s much bigger than just the sailors on the boat – smashed Jimmy Spithill’s Oracle 7-1 as we all well know, nullifying the nation’s heartache of the ‘sporting come-back of the century’ in San Francisco in 2013 (8-1 really if you factor in the bonus point Oracle came through to the finals’ series with). A nation put wind in Team New Zealand’s sails, but it was another massive supporter, Hydraulink, that helped put the revs in the engine. The new-look, incredibly innovative grinding team, unveiled as cyclists on the boat (replacing traditonal shoulder grinding), created huge interest with the likes of Blair Tuke, Simon van Velthooven and the rest of the bicycle brigade now the driving force of the boat, albeit with their legs. When the Kiwis turned to their leg-power system (known as cycle posts) they also turned doubting heads, but ETNZ knew that their pedal power not only allowed more stability during foiling but also increased ability to manipulate their wing sail and control daggerboards. ETNZ’s mechanical engineer Tim Meldrum has tweaked the system since its introduction and by the time Oracle and ETNZ went head-to-head it was poetry in motion. HYDRAULICS ON THE ETNZ BOAT To understand the boat you need to look at the ‘engine’ There is hydraulic oil on the boat which is contained in a constant loop made up of hoses, pumps and valves and cylinders, being controlled by the sailors. On the truly unique and innovative ETNZ boat, the cyclists are indeed the engine. Their cycling motion powers the pumps, which sends the hydraulic oil pressure to an accumulator storage tank which stores the pressure. The accumulator storage evens out pressure hikes and lows. Then Peter, Blair or Glen have various buttons and controls to utilise this accumulated pressure to adjust the wing sail, the dagger boards or the rudders. As soon as they move a switch or toggle, the oil pressure is directed by valves to many types of rams on the boat which control the wing, dagger boards and rudders. As soon as they adjust a ram they release the pressure in the tank which then needs to be replaced in the accumulator to be used for the next adjustment.
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