Yachting: Dalton keen to crew the big cat

By Dana Johannsen

One of the hulls of Emirates Team New Zealand's new catamaran arrives at their Auckland base.  Photo / Richard Robinson
One of the hulls of Emirates Team New Zealand's new catamaran arrives at their Auckland base. Photo / Richard Robinson

Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton is so excited about the potential of the team's new AC72 catamaran, he plans to join the crew for the next America's Cup.

The team took delivery of their first AC72 yesterday - a significant milestone for the syndicate as they continue to embrace multihull sailing. And it is a world Dalton wants to experience first hand, rather than from a chase boat.

Dalton has been training with the America's Cup crew twice a day to prepare for the gruelling physical demands of sailing the mammoth catamaran, which is capable of 40 knots.

Oracle chief executive Sir Russell Coutts, the mastermind behind the new multihull class, said when he unveiled the plans for next year's cup that the new boats will encourage a new breed of sailor. The crew need to be strong, athletic and agile to manoeuvre the giant catamarans around the course and Dalton is confident his 54-year-old body will hold up.

"You can get knocked around a fair bit, at 40 knots this thing will really fly, but I think I'm up to the challenge," said Dalton.

"If I'm not up to it, and I'll know it myself, I won't do it - simple as that."

Yesterday's delivery of the hulls and crossbeams was a culmination of more than 50,000 design hours and 40,000 build hours. Over the next two weeks the catamaran and its giant 40m wingsail will be assembled under cover at the Emirates Team New Zealand base before being unveiled to the public on July 21.

Their cup rivals, with the exception of Italian team Luna Rossa who have been sold the plans to ETNZ's first design, will no doubt be eager to see what the Kiwi syndicate have come up with. Dalton said security around the boat will be tight until they officially launch the yacht.

"With a new class, we're very interested in what other teams are doing - more than we would be with any other campaign," he said.

"Just like us, the other teams are thinking about the design of their second boat so security is critical over the next couple of months."

Next month the sailing team will began the process of evaluating the yacht's performance and learning how to sail it fast and safely.

Rules governing the 34th America's Cup stipulate that teams are allowed only 30 days testing between July 1 and January next year, when Team NZ aim to launch their second boat.

"Because we're limited to 30 days on the water, whenever we do go out it has to be deep and meaningful. We won't just go out there for a potter, we've got to make the most of those hours," said Dalton.

But just getting the catamaran on the water will be a massive logistical undertaking and, as with everything else in this campaign, there is no manual to consult.

The team have had to come up with new protocols to launch a boat of such scale. The process is expected to take up to two hours, and will require around 35 men and a 50m crane. Special tenders have been built to help manoeuvre the catamaran out of the Viaduct once in the water.

"There's been a lot of sitting around the table scratching our heads thinking, how are we going to launch this thing and get it out of the Viaduct with out cleaning up all the Superyachts?" said Dalton.

Even with the addition of the AC72 to the fleet, the team will continue with the AC45 regatta programme (three more regattas will be held this year) and the development and training programme with the twin SL33s will continue.

THE AC72

* More than 50,000 design hours have gone into the project.
* They have designed more than 500 parts to be manufactured locally in aluminium, titanium and composites.
* As big as the Team New Zealand base building is, it's too small to house the cat. A massive structure - built from 12 12m shipping containers with a tent roof - has been assembled on the base forecourt to house the 40m wings.
* A 50m crane is required to launch the boat, with the process expected to take around two hours.
* The AC72 is capable of reaching speeds of up to 40 knots.
* The boat will be officially launched on July 21, with a public naming ceremony at the Viaduct.

- NZ Herald

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on red akl_n6 at 30 Aug 2014 11:17:06 Processing Time: 519ms