Yachting: Team New Zealand reveals new boat

By Julie Ash

Shrouded in black wrap, Team New Zealand's new America's Cup yacht NZL84 sat peeking out of the syndicate's base in Auckland yesterday.

The much awaited new boat, built at Cookson's boatyard on the North Shore, was delivered to the team's base two weeks ago and on Sunday sailed for the first time.

It was back on the Hauraki Gulf again yesterday with NZL81, the sistership to NZL82 which was raced in the last Cup.

Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton said the boat's maiden voyage went well.

"We have had no problems and you can't deduce anything other than that.

"We have just been loading it up to check that it is okay structurally and we haven't had any issues."

The weather forecast isn't great for the rest of the week so it is unlikely the boat will be sailed again.

The team break for a two-week holiday at the end of the week.

"We set a criteria to have the boat sailing by Christmas and we have done that now," Dalton said.

"We are right on schedule really, which is a massive credit to the designers, engineers, the builders and the guys that have put in the work over the last month or so to keep it on schedule."

America's Cup rules do not allow teams to skirt their boats until January 1. As a result NZL84 is tucked away in the boat shed. It will be shipped to Valencia in February.

With a number of New Zealand sailors from rival syndicates in Auckland, particularly from heavyweight syndicates Alinghi and Oracle, Dalton said the team did consider delaying its launch until the new year.

"But if you made that decision you are effectively putting your programme on hold or are slowing your programme down to meet that criteria.

"Our belief is that we have got so much to do and we are still trying to catch up to our major opposition that to think we were hiding something from them would be to think we had something special and we were better than them and philosophically we just don't think that way.

"We just want to keep moving as fast as we can to try and catch them."

Dalton said NZL84 would not appear to the public to be much different to the syndicate's last boats, NZL81 and NZL82.

However, to the trained eye the yacht does appear different in terms of its shape and deck.

While it has been suggested the most significant advances in the next cup will be in sails and rigs, Dalton said there would always be subtle developments in the hulls.

"Last year's race cars are different to this year's race cars. But I don't think there is going to be major leaps.

"We haven't seen anything to indicate major leaps ... maybe another team will find one but certainly we haven't."

Team New Zealand are the second team to complete a 2005 generation hull following South Africa's Team Shosholoza, who used their new boat in this year's pre-Cup regattas.

Team New Zealand are expected to launch their second boat this time next year.

Italy's +39 and Luna Rossa, Spain's Desafio Espanol and BMW Oracle Racing are all understood to have started building their new boats.

It is believed +39 have acquired sail number 85, Luna Rossa 86 and Spain 88.

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