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America's Cup - Emirates Team NZ give first look at the pedaling AC50

by Richard Gladwell, NZ on 16 Feb 2017
Emirates Team New Zealand AC 50 launch ceremony at the Team's base in Auckland. February 16, 2017 Richard Gladwell
Emirates Team New Zealand formally christened their new AC50 America's Cup Challenger on a rainy Auckland afternoon.

The team has been sailing for the previous two days making news headlines after it was revealed in that the AC50 would become only the second yacht in America's Cup history to use pedal power.

The first yacht, the 12 Metre Sverige which contested the Challenger Selection Series in 1977, used its pedaling crew members to turn the yacht's winch systems.

The new AC50 doesn't have any winches or sheets, and all controls are hydraulic - with the effort of all four peddlers being directed towards pressurising the hydraulic reservoirs.

The christening ceremonies took place in moderately heavy rain, reviving memories of the same ceremony conducted a hundred metres down Beaumont Street just over 30 years ago, when the Kiwis first America's Cup Challenger, the 12 Metre KZ-7 was christened by Dame Naomi James.

Members of Ngati Whatua, the local iwi, welcomed the rain saying it was the tears of happiness of sailors' ancestors who had also gathered to be present at the christening.

The team's AC50 was noticeable for being a very aerodynamically clean boat, and other than four cycle seats and a steering wheel, little else appears above the trampoline and deck line.

It was revealed that the team had made the decision to move with the pedal option over 12 months ago and had managed to keep the development under wraps for that time, including launching their AC45S test boat with conventional grinding systems.

Emirates Team New Zealand skipper Glenn Ashby told Sail-World that team had only sailed for the first time with the pedalstals on Tuesday, and the rest of the development had been undertaken on shore based test platforms.

The Olympic medal winning cyclist Simon van Velthooven has been with the team for around 12 months, and the team switched to a cycling orientated physical training program about that time.

Emirates Team NZ COO Kevin Shoebridge confirmed that the AC50 will sail in New Zealand for another 6-7 weeks before packing up and flying their AC50 to the Atlantic archipelago.

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