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HYDRAULIC INS AND OUTS

January 31, 2006 09:50 0 comments

The “movistar” shore crew is finalising the changes that the Spanish boat
is to undergo before returning to the water. As it announced in the daily
reports during the Cape Town to Melbourne leg, the most important thing is
to change the hydraulics that move the Spanish VO 70’s canting keel, which
have given the crew a headache since the twelfth day of competition in the
waters of the Southern Ocean.

"It is a drastic decision, but we are in no doubt that it is the right one
–remarks Bouwe Bekking, skipper of the "movistar"–. We are going to
discard the titanium hydraulics and go back to the stainless steel ones
that we used in training before setting off from Vigo. They gave us no
problems at all in over 20,000 miles of sailing. That way we can go all
out without having to worry about their reliability".

But, if they worked so well then, why were they changed? “What led us to
change the hydraulics was a simple search for more speed –explains Pedro
Campos, team manager–, another turn of the screw for the boat’s
performance, but we now know that we were not forced to make the decision
as everyone was pushing the limits”.

“The hydraulics have failed us because they are made from titanium; it is
a very valid material –remarks Greg Waters, expert in hydraulic systems
for canting keels–. The problem arose because they were too light, even
for titanium. In my opinion, they should have been about 50% heavier, and
even then, they would have saved a lot of weight in comparison with the
ones we are going to mount now. Titanium has peculiarities that have to be
taken into account when working with it, and it is better to make them a
bit heavy rather than the ideal weight”.

The steel hydraulics will be mounted over the weekend. “The only thing we
have to change is the system pressure, because as the new hydraulic arms
are bigger, they work at a lower pressure than the old ones. Everything
else remains unchanged”.

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