After Team New Zealand reclaimed the America's Cup in Bermuda in 2017, it wasn't long before they began planning their defence.

Looking into what direction to take the competition saw the development of the AC75 class rule – a design that could revolutionise the competition.

Since the announcement that teams would be competing on 75-foot foiling monohulls was made in March last year, teams have been working tirelessly to get their first full-scale race boat in the water.

After an estimated 56,000 man hours of work, Team New Zealand was the first team to achieve that goal when they launched 'Te Aihe' in Auckland on Friday morning.

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"We've worked really hard over the last couple of years to create something special," Team New Zealand shore manager Sean Regan said. "Finally seeing it go in the water now means we're on our way to defending the America's Cup.

Team New Zealand's first AC75 was launched in Auckland. Photo / Photosport
Team New Zealand's first AC75 was launched in Auckland. Photo / Photosport

"Sometimes people don't appreciate what goes in to making one of these boats and the long hours, right up until (Thursday) night in the shed there in our specific boat yard where our main boat building team are based. It starts with a designer who has got ideas; it goes through an iteration of drafting, processing to get it to a stage where we can actually start building something."

It was a milestone occasion for the defending syndicate, but with a second boat in the works and the America's Cup World Series beginning in late April, there was pretty of work to be done in the coming months.

Team New Zealand will get their first AC75 out on the water as early as conditions allow it to begin the learning process of sailing the vessel all while taking note of what improvements or alterations need to be made for the second race boat.

"We've evolved already. We've got a boat in the water, but we've evolved so much in design," Regan said.

"We're really chuffed to get to this stage. There's been a lot of pressure on everybody from the design right through to the build and now ultimately the sailors get their chance because they've been a pain in the neck for the last how many months waiting for something to get out on the water.

Team New Zealand's first AC75 was named Te Aihe. Photo / Photosport
Team New Zealand's first AC75 was named Te Aihe. Photo / Photosport

"(We have) a few little steps over the next week or two to get the boat up to a place where the guys can just go full hog and start foiling. That'll be cool to see, but from my perspective, if I let the boys go they'll just go out there, hoist the sails and try do every minute that they can first up, but little steps right now.

"We have some planned changes, and we've got projects underway already that will see development in certain areas. There's so many aspects where you can change."

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Luna Rossa, INEOS Team UK and American Magic were all expected to launch their first race boats in the coming weeks, on which Team New Zealand will be keeping a close eye.
With the class rule leaving a number of areas in the vessel's design open for interpretation, Regan said the team will be very curious to see how the challengers have approached the process.

"We will be watching with interest to see what they come up with but it doesn't dictate where we go. We've got a plan and we're sticking to it."