Just 100 days out from the first race of the Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers, Emirates Team New Zealand accomplishes the most significant milestone of its challenge for the 35th Americas Cup by christening their America’s Cup Class catamaran that will begin racing in Bermuda in May.
In the presence of the team, their families, the Sponsors and the official suppliers, the boat was christened at the Beaumont Street base in Auckland by Tina Symmans – member of the Board of Directors of Emirates Team New Zealand – and blessed by Ngati Whatua.
“This is a really proud day for the team collectively.” said CEO Grant Dalton. “The campaign always just gets real when you launch the actual boat that you hope will be the one to win the America’s Cup back for New Zealand. It’s when things get exciting, and despite the long hard hours everyone has been putting in there is definitely an added edge to the team now this is in the water.”
The AC Class catamaran, which is 15 meters long (49.2 feet) and has a 25-metre wing, is the result of the team working six- and seven-day weeks since July last year. All the boat’s components were built in New Zealand involving works at Southern Spars, Cookson Boats and C Tech, with the meticulous fit out process being done at the team base since prior to Christmas.
The rule for the America’s Cup Class required certain elements of the boats to be one design (hulls, beams, central pod and wing shape), so designers were mainly focused on control systems and daggerboards where the Protocol allows more flexibility. Even if the AC Class catamarans are 20-feet shorter and have a 15-metres smaller wing than the AC72s, they are expected to be around 20% faster around the race track than in 2013 in San Francisco.
“The guys have just been working so incredibly hard to get to this point. Some guys have been working 12+ hour dayseveryday without a day off since the 3rd of January. The fact we are the first team to go sailing on the race boat, considering how late we were compared to the other teams is an unbelievable testament to the drive,focus and determination this very special team has collectively.” said Shore Team Manager Sean Regan.
“There is a true belief that this team can take on the five other Goliath’s and win this thing.”
Although not the most significant, but certainly the most evident innovation of the Emirates Team New Zealand racing boat is represented by the cycling grinding system the team is using to produce the energy to power the hydraulic systems throughout the boat.
Emirates Team New Zealand Design Coordinator Dan Bernasconi: “When we sat down to think about the overall design of this boat three years ago the benefits of cycling opposed to regular grinding were obvious, but certainly not without issues and difficulty with functionality, and this is what we have been working incredibly hard on overcoming for the past three years.”
Bernasconi continues: “Winning the next America’s Cup is all about maintaining a stable flight on the entire race course and that’s the reason why this boat contains some of the most innovative and powerful technology ever used in this competition in its systems, electronics, hydraulics and foil designs.”
The emphasis of the campaign now moves from inside the confines of the boat shed to the open water of the Hauraki Gulf, led by Skipper and Sailing Team Director Glenn Ashby.
“It’s been a challenge to get to this point, and the first sailing has been a very special moment for the entire team.” said Ashby. “The next few months of sailing and development with our race boat will be some of the most important in this America’s Cup. We’ll do a month of intensive testing here in Auckland then we will suspend the test programme and move to Bermuda where we will resume our training until racing starts, on May 26th.”
“In the 30-year history of Emirates Team New Zealand it has always been at the forefront of international sailing. From its beginning with Plastic Fantastic in 1987 to the introduction of foils in San Francisco the team has always reshaped the America’s Cup and the boat we are christening today is introducing revolutionary concepts once again.” concluded Grant Dalton.
“I wish to thank the Sponsors and the official suppliers that have believed once again in our challenge, but I also want to congratulate all the team, and in particular shore and design teams, who have worked relentlessly for months, allowing us to comply with the deadlines we had set.”
The AC Class catamaran in numbers:
2332-2432 kg: boat weight
60 metres: optical fibres
49,2 feet: hull length
25 meters: height of wing above water over 46 knots: top speed
6: crew members
87.5 kg: average crew weight
90: Emirates Team New Zealand’s members
The 35th America’s Cup Schedule
The 35th America’s Cup will be held in Bermuda in 2017. The event will consist of a Challengers selection series, divided into Louis Vuitton America’s Cup Qualifiers & Challenger Playoffs (27th May – 13th June 2017), and the America’s Cup Match (18-19th & 25-28th June) where the winner of the selection series will face the Defender Oracle Team USA.*
* The dates are based on New Zealand Time. The Race Schedule is available here.