The powerful hydraulics that have powered Hydraulink’s customers’ machinery for years are about to step onto the glamorous stage of the greatest yachting show on earth.

In a hydraulic odyssey every bit as technical and challenging as engineering hydraulics for the most complicated industrial machinery, the Hydraulink-supplied Emirates Team New Zealand yacht has been officially launched this September, as it prepares for the 36th America’s Cup in 2021.

In one of the world’s most complex and advanced sports engineering projects, Emirates Team New Zealand will be aiming to defend the 36th America’s Cup with its ‘yacht of the future’ designed for enhanced speeds, control and precision.

For the upcoming 36th America’s Cup taking place on Auckland’s Waitemata Harbour, Hydraulink’s 25-year Official Supplier partnership with Emirates Team New Zealand will continue – this time with the most advanced hydraulic systems to-date.

“Emirates Team New Zealand’s new AC75 class features huge advances on anything that has gone before. For example, the boat will use a world-first cantilever system whereby no keel is needed. The foils arms are raised and lowered using a battery powered power pack replenishing an accumulator which provides instant pressure to raise and lower the foil arms in around 3 seconds,” says Hydraulink Director and yachting enthusiast, Lee Short.

“The other hydraulic systems on the boat for adjusting the sailing functions are all run on a different hydraulic circuit powered by the several on-board crew members called ‘grinders’. Their role is to operate manual pedestal winches (called ‘coffee grinders’) that power the pumps that provide the pressure for all other systems. It is a physically demanding role with a significant impact on a racing yacht's overall performance,” says Short.

Pushing the limits again

September’s early morning unveiling at Emirates Team New Zealand’s Viaduct base was a sneak peek for the public at the sleek body of the new foiling monohull and its four metre foil arms with attached foil wings, which have dramatically changed the America’s Cup in 2021.

“The world saw from previous cups in San Francisco, and then in Bermuda in 2017, what’s possible on the water with catamarans, and for the upcoming showcase Emirates Team New Zealand and Hydraulink are once again at the cutting-edge of America’s Cup innovation with the new AC75 class,” says Short.

The presentation of Te Aihe or ‘Dolphin’ as Emirates Team New Zealand’s flagship boat was the moment to highlight the work of over 100,000 man-hours from a team of 65 in the design and build department. The boat and its foil wings, which will help the boat to lift out of the water, are a testament to Kiwi innovation, constantly pushing the limit of technology.

“Hydraulink’s innovation, drive and cutting-edge technology is well respected throughout industry worldwide. With the increased emphasis on complex hydraulic systems, Hydraulink is relishing the opportunity to once again be racing against world technology leaders,” says Short.

The name Te Aihe (Dolphin) is based on the Maori proverb: "As the dolphin soars through the seas so does a leader sew people together”. The proverb is highly applicable to the Emirates Team New Zealand team, which will be doing everything it can to stay in front during the America’s Cup.

25 years of sailing innovation

By its very nature, the America’s Cup is a secretive business, but behind the curtains, Hydraulink has worked in partnership with Emirates Team New Zealand for the past 25 years and five campaigns – following the 1995 watershed victory in San Diego.

Hydraulink has been at the coalface of hydraulic design and advice, from the monohulls to foiling catamarans and back again to the current AC75 class, which is the most stringent test of the company’s bespoke hydraulic hose assemblies and fittings connecting all the hydraulic systems on board.

The recent move to foiling class catamarans in San Francisco then Bermuda has showcased on a global stage the new hydraulic technology and its capability to push the limits of speed, pressure and safety.

The foil cant system (FCS) is the driving force of the new AC75 class. This FCS is standard on each boat and identical sets of Hydraulink fittings and hose assemblies have been supplied to every team to operate this complex system.

Each set of hose assemblies is constructed, tested and certified by Hydraulink using its brand-new test rig capable of pressures up to 4000bar. Hydraulink is also supplying Emirates Team New Zealand exclusively with its other independent systems on board as the boats prepare to hit the Waitemata sailing at 50 knots (90kmph) in March 2021.

With design pressures up to 500bar, these boats simply won’t sail if their hydraulics don’t operate efficiently. Hydraulink’s successful partnership with Emirates Team New Zealand has led America's Cup Events to use Hydraulink’s hoses and fittings for each team’s foil cant system for the 36th America’s Cup.

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