Twelve young Auckland sailors saw Emirates Team New Zealand's new America's Cup catamaran up close over the weekend.

The group have become buddies of the crew and spent a half-day with the team on Saturday as they prepared for next year's America's Cup challenger series.

Emirates, in association with the Herald, sought applications from boys and girls who are aged between 10 and 16 to take part in the buddy programme.

"This is an outstanding opportunity for keen young New Zealanders to extend their knowledge of sailing and get very close to the action at the top end of the sport," said Chris Lethbridge, Emirates' regional manager New Zealand.


"This will be a different way in which to ensure community involvement in what is undoubtedly a major New Zealand sporting undertaking."

The half-day included watching the wing-sail being lifted into place and the catamaran being placed into the Viaduct Harbour by crane, breakfast with the crew and watching the crew training from a chase boat.