The prototype AC45 has arrived in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour. See images courtesy of Gilles Martin-Raget

Photographer Gilles Martin-Raget is in Auckland to document the final assembly and roll-out of the first AC45 catamaran. Here, he tells us about what he’s seen so far this week during the final push to complete the first boat:

“There was a big contrast yesterday between the beautiful New Zealand nature that surrounds the Core Builder facilities in calm and remote Warkworth, and the frantically busy action that was going on inside the yard. It looked a bit like area around the Christmas tree when the children open their presents. 

As soon you pass the doors, you see people putting fittings on the brand new beams in the entrance lobby, then in the main workshop it’s the full show: new hulls ready to receive their internal structure, flaps being finalized, film going on the main element of the wing, new hulls in preparation in their moulds. While some people are sanding the removable aft part of the hull, others are working of wing parts, or on moulds. Designers are talking to builders; everywhere you look there is something or someone in movement.

The big visual novelty of the day was seeing the film go on the main elements of the first wing – a process much more simple than the one used on the USA17 wing: a translucid film is glued via double-sided tape to the structure and is then heated to retract itself and offer a clean and tensioned surface. But here it takes much less time as there is only one long film unfurled from its original roll for each side of the wing. The other difference is that this film is clear and you can see though it, like on a C Class wing. This will be visually quite different and certainly spectacular.

But one thing remains the same: this wing looks BIG! Especially considering that what you can see now is only the main element that will be joined later to the flaps. One thing is for sure – these AC45s will not lack for power.

Two hundred metros further along, in another shed that you join via a path among open fields with cows grazing, there is a full team of painters who are preparing the first two hulls for painting later in the night. When this work is completed, those two hulls will be trucked to the Viaduct basin in order for the first boat to be assembled in the old Team New Zealand base.

According to production manager Chris Mellow: “Friday will be the big day when we’ll assemble the boat together for the first time in Auckland.”

We’ll be there!”

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