When you have an AC72 starting her charge behind you - it’s not a time for engine failure or falter - Emirates Team NZ’s tender has four Yamaha 300’s on the transom
Emirates Team New Zealand’s sailing crew relies on the wind to win races. Raw horsepower is needed to back them up and make it possible for them to do their job.
Since 1988 Yamaha engines have provided the power and that’s how long Hugh Stewart has been looking after them.
Whenever the AC72 leaves the dock, five RIBs are in close attendance. Two small Protectors – dubbed the tugs – push and pull the yacht in the desired direction.
The 45ft catamaran chase boat – Chase 1 – is rafted alongside for extra push and shove if necessary. Chase boats 2 and 3 are never far away. The team has nine power boats – the 45ft cat and eight Protector RIBs ranging in size from 12.5m down to the 5m tugs.
They are all powered by Yamaha outboards. Chase 1 has four 300hp V6 motors. Other engines in the fleet range from big 350hp V8s to the modest four-stroke 60hp that power the tugs.
From time to time, they all require service. And that’s where Yamaha’s Hugh Stewart comes in. He strips the motors right down, takes the gearboxes out and checks over all the systems.
Chris Salthouse, who runs the power fleet, says Hugh does all the Emirates Team New Zealand service works – 'and always has. We always follow his recommendations.'
Hugh’s serviced New Zealand America’s Cup challenge chase boat engines from the start. He can’t remember a major problem. In fact, he says, there’s never a major issue – new oil filters or an impeller or two for the water pumps.
Hugh’s help doesn’t stop there. Chris Salthouse: 'Should a problem arise when we’re on the water I phone Hugh who provides information for an instant fix. When we’re back at the dock Hugh turns up to check everything’s OK.'
'Chase 1 has done 300 hours in the six months since it was launched. The engines don’t have to work particularly hard but it’s still a lot of hours in a short time.
'Engines on other boats work very hard to keep up with the cat. They run pretty close to full throttle all day. In the monohull days the chase boats averaged 10 knots most days.
'With the big cat they’re averaging 25 to 30 knots so we have ramped up the service programme to keep them in top operational condition.'