AC NEWS – The first AC72 to touch water has been named ‘New Zealand’ during a rousing ceremony in Auckland on Saturday evening.
The ceremonial champagne splash was unique, with the bottle set up in an inverted catapult mechanism designed and built for the occasion.
With the crowd of supporters that numbered in the thousands pulling a line to ‘load’ the catapult, skipper Dean Barker’s wife Mandy christened the boat ‘New Zealand’, as the bottle smashed over the bow.
With Prime Minister John Key in attendance, Grant Dalton, the managing director of the team, paid tribute to the New Zealand marine industry which helped the team in designing and building the boat.
“What you see before you here is the result of 50 man-years of design and 65,000 hours of building by the New Zealand marine industry,” Dalton said. “It’s a great honour for me to lead this team, along with Dean Barker, as we take this on to San Francisco.”
“For us it’s been a huge learning curve,” Barker told the crowd, when asked about sailing the catamarans. “The boats are exciting to sail. Rather than finesse, it’s more about getting out there and just getting into it. It’s been fantastic.”
Following the christening, fireworks were set off to complete the celebration.
The team is expected to sail the boat for the first time in the coming days.
All competitors in the Louis Vuitton Cup and America’s Cup Match in 2013 must design and build their own AC72 catamarans. Emirates Team New Zealand is the first to launch one of these behemoths, with ORACLE TEAM USA expected to be the next team to unveil later this summer in San Francisco.