The Kiwi’s cat is out of the bag as Team New Zealand reveal their new 72ft wing masted Cup boat for the first time
Team New Zealand have revealed their new 72ft America’s Cup and stepped its giant solid wingmast for the first time yesterday in Auckland (18 July).
The new AC72 is the first of the new breed of cats that will compete for the America’s Cup in San Francisco in 2013. According to team CEO Grant Dalton the new machine has taken 50,000 man hours to build just the platform plus 15,000 hours spent on the wing.
“Fifty man years has gone into the design of the boat,” he told me shortly before the launch. “A Version 5 Cup monohull took around 18-20,000 hours.”
Handling the new boat also requires a big step forward for teams that have until now been used to stepping more modestly proportioned wings on the AC45s.
“It takes around 35 people to step and launch the new AC72,” continued Dalton. “We have had to devise systems to drive the rig around and the guy ropes need to be held with weights so it can’t take off on you. You can’t simply hold onto them like you can with an AC45.
“We can’t sail it out of the Viaduct [Harbour Auckland] it’s too dangerous so we’ve build a set of tugs like bumper boats so that we can take it our backwards in a southwesterly.”
With Artemis’ serious set back after the wing for their 72 came crashing down earlier this season and TNZ’s tentative steps in launching their new boat, it is clear that the AC72s will present some serious challenges ashore let alone on the water.
official word on TNZ’s new cat and wing from their blog:
Emirates Team New Zealand’s AC72 catamaran was wheeled out of the shed the first time this morning as team members got down to final preparations for Saturday’s public show at the Viaduct Harbour.
On a brilliantly fine and still winter’s morning, the 40m wingsail was wheeled from its tent, lifted and carefully placed on the platform.
It was a significant time for team members who have worked solidly for 18 months for the moment.
Curious onlookers stopped and watched from Halsey Street; from the other side of the Viaduct Harbour photograhers were shooting the action at the base.
There was a serious purpose today’s operations. Designers, engineers and shore crew performed a series of load tests on wing and rigging as final preparations are made for Saturday and the first sailing which, weather depending, could be later next week.
Even though the team would have preferred to keep the AC72 under wraps for a few more days while cosmetic work (principally applying the last sponsor logos to the wing) is completed there was no hiding it. The wingsail – bigger than a wing on the Boeing 747 – is twice as high and three times the area of the wing on the AC45s the have been raced in the America’s Cup World Series regattas.
Upright and in position for the first time, it towered over the base and could be seen from CBD buildings and streets around the Viaduct Harbour.
The New Zealand public will be able to get close to the cat on Saturday when the yacht is named at a show at the Viaduct Harbour. Team managing director Grant Dalton said the show is for the New Zealand public – “to thank them for keeping the faith and their patience since 2007.”
The event is happening at night – sunset on this winter Saturday is 5.25pm – and the show doesn’t kick off until just before 6pm. But that’s because it’s aimed for early evening TV news not because the team is being coy.
“We’re planning to stream the entire show live,” Dalton said. “We’re setting up a link from our blog (www.etnzblog.com) that will go live at 5.30pm NZ time.
The big moment comes – a champagne bottle launched by 1200 people pulling on a hemp rope will break on the boat – about 6.15pm which will trigger a ring of fire around the boat and a fireworks display.”
The show is free to the public. People will have great views from the Halsey Street wharf, from public areas around the Viaduct Events Centre and from the area around the lifting bridge.
Dalton urges people to arrive at the Viaduct by 5.30pm.
Grant Dalton blogs on stepping the AC72 wing for the first time…..
Today is a step, be it a big step, for the Emirates Team New Zealand campaign. The cat has seen the light of day for the first time and the wing has been fitted and brought up to tension.
In recent weeks the base has been operating seven days a week to get to this day. In fact we have just done 35 days straight. Normally that could bring issues but to the total credit of all the team there is not one crack, well not that I can see anyway.
So what now? Saturday night is our live TV launch, looks like we will have up to 1000 invited guests (sponsors, suppliers and the many people who have contributed to the big cat) the weather looks like it may play ball and with the publicity that the boat is starting to generate we could end up – and hope to end up – with a large crowd.
For the first 1500 there’s a launch T-shirt and a spot on the long rope that’s attached to a ‘ bottle rig’ on the boat to help launch it.
Because it will be dark when the show gets underway we have opportunities with lights and fireworks as well. It will be spectacular.
We are also piping gas across the water so we can ring the boat in flames. It’s a big event for the team to organise and until today I was nervous about whether we could pull it off. Seems that we have it as under control as we could have with three days to go – at least the star of the show’s wing fits.
But we can give ourselves a moment today to reflect. With the mess that Alinghi and Oracle initially made, it’s amazing we are here, more amazing when the budgets went through the roof that we survived. As a team we can take satisfaction from the fact that while nearly all around us fell by the way side we have made it to this point.
We all know exactly what lies ahead. Oracle and Artemis, with endless money running endless projects, may well produce speed edges.
Sit in on a design meeting here and you know there is more out there. We are partly protected by time. There’s not enough of it. The danger is, even if you have the money, looking for a silver bullet and having no time to develop it could be very costly.
So for now we will concentrate on getting the boat launched and sailing and hope that the New Zealand public will get in behind the campaign as we start our lead-up to San Fran next year. One thing is for sure, this will cut quite a pose in an Auckland Wednesday-night race.