[Source: Emirates Team New Zealand] Emirates Team New Zealand will take delivery of its first AC72 catamaran by the middle of next month.
The mammoth cat will then be assembled – it will arrive at the base as components – and undergo a rigorous testing regime before an official launch planned for late July.
The team started work on design and engineering in October 2010. Building started on November 9 last year. In July the sailing team – which has been heavily involved in the design process – will begin the process of evaluating the yacht’s performance and learning how to sail it fast and safely.
The AC72 is a massive leap for designers, boatbuilders and sailing team. More than 50,000 design hours have gone into the project as designers and engineers pushed the boundaries in design and technology. They have designed more than 500 parts to be manufactured locally in aluminium, titanium and composites. Seven Auckland machine shops have engineered the metal components. Only deck gear and winches could be bought off the shelf.
Nothing like it has been built previously in New Zealand. Yacht composite components have been built at Cookson Boats at Glenfield, Southern Spars at Avondale, and three other boatbuilding companies. About 40,000 hours have gone into the build.
Components for the wingsail have been built at both Southern Spars and Cooksons. Wing assembly has been underway at the Emirates Team New Zealand Viaduct Harbour base for the past two months. That’s a further 25,000 hours.
Emirates Team New Zealand managing director Grant Dalton said the race yacht will be delivered on budget and on time. “That’s remarkable considering the complexity of the design and build process and speaks volumes for the capability of the New Zealand marine industry.”
Major parts of the Italian Luna Rossa AC72 are also being built in New Zealand.
The Emirates Team New Zealand base is being prepared for the new arrival. As big as the base building is, it’s too small to house the cat. A massive structure – built from 12 40ft shipping containers with a tent roof – has been assembled on the base forecourt to house the 40m wings.
The original Team New Zealand building on Halsey Street from which the team defended the America’s Cup in 2000 and mounted the 2003 defence has been demolished to make way for a second structure of shipping containers and tent structure to house the platform.
The AC72’s size and speed potential has forced a re-think of the chase boat fleet. A catamaran chase boat capable of 50knots and with enough power to right the catamaran should it capsize is being built at Salthouse Boatbuilders.
It will join the fleet of monohull Protectors that have been a familiar part of Emirates Team New Zealand for many years.
Dalton said: “A lot of people have worked long hours for more than 18 months to get to this point. A lot more work has to be done as we evaluate performance and learn about the AC72 and prepare to start building the second boat.”
For the time being, the AC72 will stay under wraps. “Just like us, the other teams are thinking about the design of their second boat so security is critical over the next couple of months.
“You can bet that as soon as the boat hits the water in July we will be in the spotlight – from the media and other teams.”
Even with the addition of the AC72 to the fleet, the team will continue with the AC45 regatta programme (three more regattas will be held this year) and the development and training programme with the twin SL33s will continue.