If your vision of sailing is being laid back on a deck, wind whipping through hair and accompanied by the sounds of gulls, sail flapping and waves lapping the hull, you’ll not believe what has become of competitive sailing. There may not be another sport that has changed as much as sailing the past few years.
The changes are due mostly to technology.
You’ll also not believe:
- The boat (not sure you can even call it a boat) can travel 4 times the speed of the wind.
- It moves best when out of the water, riding up on thin skis.
- The crew on the winning boat were cycling.
You think it’s a sail on the boat/craft but technically it works as an airfoil. The Cup race goes to the craft that can keep the hulls out of the water for the duration of the race (about 20 minutes). Makes sense – trade hydrodynamic drag for aerodynamic drag.
The sailors on the winning boat appear to be stationary bikes. They are raising the pressure in a hydraulic system which apparently is “the heart of the modern ACC” (America Cup Craft). It powers the sail functions, like lower and raising the sails. Why they wouldn’t be directly propelling the craft forward is beyond me.
In the Americas Cup races, the New Zealand team took to pedaling instead of using “hand grinders.” They won. Duh. A professional cyclist can generate over a thousand Watts for a short time. Using arms, you can get maybe half the power.
Rowers have always maintained the strength comes from the legs. A rower from the UC-Berkeley squad told me quads got so big he couldn't wear regular pants.
This is the first time America Cup team have sported stationary bike power stations, but since that team won, I’m sure it won’t be the last.
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