Emirates Team New Zealand has revealed their new custom-designed test boat Te Kāhu 'The Hawk' today in Auckland.

Te Kāhu was rolled out of the shed on Wednesday afternoon for the first time before being christened by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei.

Te Kāhu, which fits within the 36th America's Cup Protocol, will be used by the team to continue design development for a large proportion of 2020 while their AC75 'Te Aihe' is being shipped and raced in Europe.

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Team New Zealand appear late to the party, however, considering other Challengers' test boats started hitting the water as early as September 2018.

Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton said it was all part of their plan.

"It might seem like the launch of our test boat is a bit overdue, but early in any campaign decisions have to be made that ultimately will only be judged at the end," he said.

"As a team, we decided that a test boat was indeed a really key necessity but believed it needed to have as much design input as our first AC75 to give it meaningful ongoing development possibilities.

Emirates Team New Zealand launch test boat in Auckland. Photo / Emirates Team NZ
Emirates Team New Zealand launch test boat in Auckland. Photo / Emirates Team NZ

"There is no doubt, looking back, that the Challengers all learnt some valuable lessons and got a bit of a jump on us with their developments. But it was a conscious decision of ours to suck that up and play the long game, knowing that points don't start to count until the first race of the America's Cup, which obviously is in March 2021."

While Te Aihe is being shipped 60 days either way to and from Europe, by launching Te Kāhu now, Team New Zealand plan to continue their on-water development programme uninterrupted.

"We know from experience that the development and gains that take place in the year before the America's Cup are vitally important," explained Head of Design, Dan Bernasconi. "We couldn't afford to only be sailing on the water for the handful of weeks we will get on Te Aihe around the ACWS events, between now and its return to New Zealand."

Team New Zealand are now in the process of packing up and preparing Te Aihe for shipping to Cagliari, Italy, in preparation for the first America's Cup World Series event there in April.

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It will be the first time it lines up to race against the other AC75's.