HRH The Princess Royal named the new British America’s Cup boat at Cowes today

‘Wight Lightning’, the first ever modern America’s Cup boat to be built in Great Britain was named by HRH Princess Anne today.

The 80ft Formula One machine is the yacht that Peter Harrison’s GBR Challenge has designed and constructed to carry Britain’s hopes at the 31st America’s Cup, starting on the 1 October 2002.

The unveiling and naming ceremony took place at the GBR Challenge base at Cowes in the specially transformed boat shed and was witnessed by over 300 guests.

Following a bit of a hitch, when the Champagne bottle failed to break first time over the bows of the yacht, HRH The Princess Royal joined in the celebrations to mark the special occasion.

HRH the Princess Royal explained her confidence in Peter Harrison’s team: “The crew have already shown that they can compete with the best in the world and if the boat behind us is fast, this campaign could really put Great Britain back in the frame in one of the most prestigious competitions in the sporting world.”

Harrison commented: “Today is an emotional moment for me, as after all of the months of plotting and planning with David Barnes and Ian Walker, this really brings home that so many of our plans are reaching fruition, making history. I hope and expect that this is the start of something special for Great Britain.”

Jason Akers and Brandon Linton were the managers in charge of the boat build, using their combined knowledge of having built five America’s Cup yachts previously. The pair worked closely with Technical Group member Jo Richards and Project Manager Paul Jennings.

Peter Harrison reminded the audience of the team’s commitment to youth as he invited five year old George Pickering, whose entry was chosen from the 18,940 name ideas submitted via Blue Peter, to give the Princess Royal a bouquet of flowers.

Next week, Wight Lightning will be put onto a container ship to begin her five week journey to Auckland.

GBR Challenge’s Skipper Ian Walker stated: “Today is an historic day, but it will be looked back upon as even more historic if we can succeed in Auckland. The Louis Vuitton Cup starts in 172 days, and I cannot wait to start racing.”