Team New Zealand have damaged their wingsail - a hi-tech and expensive piece of machinery - in a dramatic launch incident in the Viaduct this afternoon.

The incident occurred as the team were preparing to fit their wingsail to the platform of AC72 catamaran in gusty conditions. The 40m wing-sail needs to lifted into place by a crane - an extremely delicate process at the best of times.

A Team New Zealand spokesperson said as they were hoisting the sail, a big gust of wind blew across the the Viaduct, picking up the sail. The leading edge of the hard sail is understood to have clipped the side of the main building of Emirates Team New Zealand's base, ripping the skin and causing some rig damage.

The damage has been described as relatively minor - more of a nuisance than catastrophic - and the team are expecting to be back out on the water on Thursday.


Italian team Luna Rossa, who have been training in Auckland over summer, suffered damage to their wingsail in very similar circumstances earlier this year, which was repaired inside two days.

Team New Zealand have two of the multi-million dollar wing-sails, which are designed to be interchangeable.