Campagnolo made huge moves in the last few years by getting into gravel with their Ekar groupset, but their next new cycling discipline might actually be yachting. Wait, what? Yes, Campy has signed on as the drivetrain supplier for the Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli yachting team’s run at the 37th America’s Cup.
And so, adapted Campagnolo Super Record groupsets will power their boats…
Campagnolo yachting cyclor groupsets for the America’s Cup
Now what business does a cycling component maker have getting mixed up in sail boat racing?
The secret is the often-overlooked cyclor. Or cycling sailors.
What is a cyclor?
That essentially puts 4 cyclists clipped into a series of stationary trainer bikes. Those tucked inside the hull of one of these boats. Each linked together. And their power then drives hydraulic systems that can manipulate sails or operate the hydrofoils on outriggers. Something many cyclists might not realize is that this top-tier of sailboat racing has often tapped a number of elite Olympic-level track cyclists to become sailors when the rules allowed.
Historically in America’s Cup racing, sailors on the boats called grinders needed to operate hand cranks to quickly reel in and let out the sails during the fast-paced racing. But in the latest AC75 yacht constructions, updated rules allow for the return of pedal-power with the reduction from 11 to 8 crew on each boat.
Updated America’s Cup rules favor a cyclist’s approach
“Compliant to the Class Rule, the hydraulic systems that move the “aero” part of the boat (sails and mast) can only be powered by the crew itself during the race. For this reason, the Protocol provides for the presence of cyclors who, using their legs, are able to develop significantly more power than that produced by the grinders in previous editions.“
According to the team, this “decision has triggered a technical revolution in preparation for the upcoming America’s Cup, with Campagnolo collaborating on developing the new transmission system.“
Now, after coming 2nd in 2021’s 36th America’s Cup, the elite Italian Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli sailing team has “enlisted Campagnolo’s expertise to develop a brand-new, high-performance transmission system that will allow them to capitalise on the introduction of cyclors on AC75 class yachts during next year’s competition.“
So a Campagnolo yachting groupset is officially in the works. A new transmission that Campagnolo designed specifically for this yachting team. And Luna Rossa Prada Pirelli graphics hint at some obvious Super Record crankset inspiration.
According to Campy’s head of sales & marketing, “The technology being utilised in the transmission system is very similar to the drivetrains used in elite cycling where we have the benefit of 90 years of experience, and 43 Tour de France victories, in that particular sport.“
Cyclors in practice on a racing yacht
We have no idea really what all that entails, to be honest.
The reigning America’s Cup champs – the Emirates Team New Zealand team – pioneered the modern cyclor. Before cyclors were subsequently banned. And they offer a glimpse of what their new cyclors are dealing with. As opposed to the previous generation of America’s Cup racing yachts, these days the cyclists don’t have to get up and run to the other side of a catamaran mid-race.
That also means the cyclors stay tucked deeper in the hull for improved aerodynamics.
And it hides the unique cyclor drivetrain further from view.