Just moments before Team NZ lowered their freshly blessed and christened new development boat into the water for the first time at the Auckland Viaduct base, Grant Dalton declared it their most significant step along the path to “redemption”.
The syndicate boss was referring, of course, to the chance for atonement that very much motivates Team NZ as they work towards the 2017 America’s Cup in Bermuda, and another crack at lifting the Auld Mug off Oracle after coming so agonisingly close in San Francisco in 2013.
It’s been a long time coming, and by their own admission they start a fair way behind all their principal rivals for next year, but finally Team NZ have their own boat on the water and can start the process of refinement that will spit out the 50ft catamaran to race next year’s America’s Cup.
Up until now they’ve been working away on the testing boat bought from sidelined Italian syndicate Lunar Rossa, as well as on the less developed AC45s that they compete in on the world series circuit.
But now they have their own custom-designed 45ft catamaran that for all intents and purposes will be the precursor to the real thing in Bermuda. This first generation of Emirates Team NZ, complete with so many of the specs for next year, will be tested and probed and refined to eventually form what they’re adamant will be the next Cup winner.
Team NZ develops new boat
“We’re in it to win it and we’re trying to do everything we can to be competitive against competition that will probably be way stronger than it’s been the last couple of America’s Cups,” said Team NZ chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge after a special ceremony at the team base.
The new boat was given a special Maori blessing by dignitaries from Ngati Whatua and then christened in the traditional manner by Lady Margaret Tindall, wife of Team NZ director Sir Stephen Tindall, before being lowered into the water to have its hull wet for the first time.
Dalton told the gathering of team members, officials, sponsors, media and interested onlookers that it was “as complicated a boat” as he’d seen in his time, and one that had more effort put into it than any he had been involved with. An estimated 35,000 man hours had gone into its design and construction.
Added Shoebridge: “This boat really is an accumulation of nearly two years of design work by 25 designers and a lot of work by the shore team to get it ready in time. It’s a major stepping stone to being successful in Bermuda next year.”