The first tangible sign the America's Cup is truly back on track was in evidence at the weekend in Auckland's Viaduct Harbour, where the first of 10 13.7m catamarans has been assembled.
The sleek new catamaran was briefly dunked yesterday, with a shore crew of around 20 men manoeuvring the 20m wing sail into the platform.
They hope to launch it properly today, but may not have time to get out on the water for a shakedown, bring it back to shore and tuck the wing sail away in the old Team New Zealand base before the predicted nasty front arrives in the late afternoon.
Tim Smyth, who heads Core Builders, the company charged with reeling out the 10 scaled-down versions of the AC72 yachts the 2013 America's Cup will be contested in, said he is eager to get the boat in the water.
"Once you've committed to a design, every day you spend building it is dead time if you like, because you want to get it in the water and start sailing and learning about it," he said.
The hulls and the beams of the first AC45 prototype was transported from Core Builders' Warkworth facility to the former Team New Zealand base last week for assembly and Smyth has been pleased with the progress his team have made so far.
He said the highlight of the weekend was yesterday, reeling the wing out and slotting it into the platform for the first time.
"We managed to lift the platform with the wing into the water in about 12 knots of breeze, so that was really encouraging," said Smyth.
"Twelve to 13 knots used to be about our limit with the big wing, but it was quite comfortable today."
This phase of the programme is also about making everything as logistically streamlined as possible so they can take the show on the road.
The AC45 yachts will be sailed in a series of Cup pre-regattas, which has been rebranded the America's Cup World Series, with the first expected to be staged in June or early July this year.
America's Cup Race Management will announce the schedule for the new series by January 31.
Meanwhile, Smyth's team will continue to roll out the rest of the AC45 yachts at the rate of about one a month.
Core has employed about 50 people to complete the order by June.
The second catamaran is about three-quarters complete, with a third half-way through construction and another one in its infancy.
Mark Turner, who alongside Smyth runs Core Builders, said it was a remarkable achievement for the New Zealand boat building industry to undertake such a mammoth project.By Dana Johannsen Email Dana