WELLINGTON, New Zealand (AP) — Team New Zealand has launched the boat with which it will defend the America’s Cup when the venerable sailing trophy is contested in March for the 36th time since 1856.
The sleek 75-foot monohull was revealed at its launching ceremony in Auckland on Thursday, closely observed by challengers from the United States, Britain and Italy which will vie for the right to compete against New Zealand in the Cup match.
American Magic, Ineos Team UK and Italian challenger Luna Rossa have already launched and named their second yachts in which they will compete in the challenger series for the Prada Cup in January and February.
They watched closely Thursday to see if New Zealand’s second race boat revealed any major technological advancements. New Zealand’s yacht showed similarities in hull shape, depth and configuration to those already launched but will also see some refinement in its foils and cockpit configuration.
The yachts which will compete for the America’s Cup rise up out of the water on thin foils which allow them to almost fly over the water at high speeds. New Zealand, which was instrumental in coming up with the AC75 design rule, is seen to have some advantage in technological development, though Thursday’s effort was a belated launch.
The yacht originally was to be launched in October but has been delayed for reasons Team New Zealand has not revealed. That limits the time Team New Zealand will have on the water in the new boat before the Cup match begins on March 6.
The AC75 class marks a departure from the high-speed foiling catamarans which were used in the two previous Cups and a quantum leap from the traditional monohulls in which the Cup was previously contested.
Team New Zealand general manager Grant Dalton said the designers started with a blank sheet of paper as they came up with the second New Zealand yacht which differs in many respects from its predecessor. Until now the defender has been training with its first yacht named Te Aihe, the indigenous Maori world for dolphin.
“There was no concept,” Dalton said. “We knew it had to be a monohull but we couldn’t leave the (multi-hull) generation behind.”
“You couldn’t find a person within Team New Zealand who believes that we haven’t exceeded what we thought we would.”
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