GBR Challenge Chairman Peter Harrison today officially opened the base from which the syndicate will mount its tilt at the world's oldest sporting trophy, the America's Cup

GBR Challenge Chairman Peter Harrison today officially opened the base from which the syndicate will mount its tilt at the world’s oldest sporting trophy, the America’s Cup. The Internet entrepreneur informed his guests that Great Britain had last been part of the America’s Cup in 1987 and, in its historic return to the event, intended to go all the way.

The base opening was also the first time that the British Challenge’s America’s Cup yachts, GBR 44 and GBR 52, have been seen together in New Zealand, with 52 arriving by container ship about a week before. Unfortunately the typically fickle Auckland weather refused to co-operate, with high winds and driving rain preventing any sailing on the day.

Form the syndicate’s huge boatshed, Peter Harrison told his guests “I have a very good feeling about being in Auckland and in realising a long-held personal ambition to enter the America’s Cup – this challenge is not a one-off. Firstly we have 14 years to make up and we have taken a number of strategic actions to do what your All Black Rugby Team would call playing catch-up rugby.”

“We are well aware of the learning curves we have to climb but I am doing this with real ambition of winning and bringing the Cup to the UK. Our results at the America’s Cup Jubilee against Team New Zealand and Prada caused quite an impact…but there’s still a long way to go yet. Our sponsors and partners will benefit from being part of an exciting and rewarding journey.” The GBR Challenge base is less lavish than some on “syndicate row” in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, but is consistent with the compact, efficient character of the challenge. Work hardly missed a beat for the official opening, with crew members hosting guests on tours of the base before returning to the their build-up work.

Base 8 includes a sail loft, admin offices, operations facility, travel lift and extended pontoon as well as an executive office suite across the street from which the sponsorship and marketing team operate. The team is based there until the end of March, when it will return the UK for the launch of the new yacht.

Peter Harrison outlined the mood in the team. “David Barnes, Ian Walker and myself are pleased with the progress so far. We are constantly evaluating everything and have set up a number of objectives for the second phase, to ensure that we continue to improve in all areas of the project.

“We have managed to hit the ground running with a smooth transfer of operations to Auckland and the team are now familiar with the Hauraki Gulf after spending the last two months here. We will continue to work on speed through technique and sail and configuration changes and continue to benefit from by training in the same waters that the Louis Vuitton Cup races will be held in.”

“We will simulate race situations with our two boats to give the sailing team the experience they need. The demanding training regime planned will look to build on the big gains already made in strength and fitness. We have made a good start and now need to take everything to a new level.”