America's Cup spies hoping to catch a glimpse of Emirates Team New Zealand's new yacht before its official unveiling were thwarted when the webcam trained on the team's base went dark.

The 360-degree SnapIT webcam provides timelapse footage of the Viaduct Harbour, including the Team NZ base, and can be watched from anywhere in the world.

But it was mysteriously offline on Thursday as the team were setting up for Friday's launch.

Conspiracy theorists concluded the camera blackout was a deliberate attempt to foil challengers trying to glean more information about the team's new 75-foot foiling monohull, one of two that will defend the 2021 America's Cup in Auckland.

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But SnapIT chief executive Chris Rodley told the Herald on Sunday there was no conspiracy - the blackout was a "standard outage" as happens when the internet goes down.

Rodley had received an "aggressive email" complaining SnapIT had bowed to corporate pressure by turning off its camera, but said that was not the case.

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The public got a sneak peek of the AC75 being set up on Thursday when Team NZ posted pictures to social media, ahead of Friday's official launching ceremony. The yacht was christened Te Aihe (the dolphin) and blessed by Ngāti Whātua before heading out on the water.

Te Aihe will spend the coming months being tested on the Waitematā Harbour as the team look to make refinements for their second race boat.

Any footage of the yacht's design will be heavily scrutinised by the four challengers as they seek to gain any advantage over the defending champions in two years' time.

Team New Zealand know they're under the microscope - an ominous tweet on Thursday said "the spies" were about to become "very busy".


There's a long tradition of America's Cup teams spying on each other's designs. One News reported Luna Rossa sailor Jacopo Plazzi was down at the waterfront on Thursday taking pictures. He said it was "part of the game" to spy on each other's yachts, and he thought Te Aihe was "really nice".

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The rules for the 36th America's Cup prohibit shrouding of the boats at any time - making it hard to keep any design features a secret.

However protective wrapping during transport is allowed, as is putting a yacht in a building for maintenance or modification.