by Bob Wallace
Emirates Team New Zealand members, their Emirates “Buddies” (pictured with the crew). Twelve boys and girls aged between 10 and 16 were selected by Emirates as Buddies to members of the crew.
Emirates Team New Zealand’s latest America’s Cup yachting challenger is ready to 'fly' after a ceremony at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour. The huge, high-speed catamaran known as an AC 72 craft (America’s Cup 72-footer) features a 40-metre high wing-sail with similar materials to those used in today’s most modern aircraft.
'Now with the huge wing-sail on the AC 72, the aviation and yachting industries are virtually in concert, using similar materials, similar designs and with similar size,' said Gary Chapman, Emirates’ President Group Services and dnata. 'The upright wing on the AC 72 is actually longer than a single span of an Emirates A380 superjumbo wing.'
The next America’s Cup challenger series, for the Louis Vuitton Cup, will be held in San Francisco in July and August 2013, with the America’s Cup match finals in September 2013.
Mr Chapman paid tribute to the 'skilled and intrepid crew on board, a whole band of equally talented and adventurous designers behind their computers, and a tireless, dedicated shore crew.' He said that only one word described the sailing crew – 'fearless'.
Emirates Team NZ Buddy Blake Olsen of Warkworth with Dean Barker. Blake is named after former team leader the late Sir Peter Blake
A highlight of the evening ceremony was the appearance of 12 young Emirates Buddies, aged between 10 and 16, alongside the crew members. Chosen by Emirates after a competition, the buddies will later experience another high point when they join the team for half a day as they undertake training runs with the new craft.
'In many ways our sponsorship of this team epitomises Emirates’ new brand platform, Hello Tomorrow and the philosophy of connecting people through exciting, innovative and shared experiences. Emirates also connects with communities – and the presence here tonight of 12 young New Zealanders, chosen to be Emirates Buddies with crew members is testament to that,' said Mr Chapman.
'These young people, part of New Zealand’s future, not only have this marvellous experience of being here tonight, but they will have the buzz at a later date of spending time with the team, talking with them and watching them in action on the water out there in the gulf, as well as getting to know how a team base works,' continued Mr Chapman.
The sponsorship of the team is also a sign of Emirates’ commitment to New Zealand; as was the airline’s sponsorship last year of the Rugby World Cup (held in New Zealand and won by New Zealand).
'This time next year it will be 10 years since Emirates started flying to New Zealand. We are delighted at the support New Zealanders have given us – we now fly four times a day to Dubai and beyond via Australia; and since 2009 one of those services has been flown by the A380 superjumbo. Bringing that large and comfortable aircraft to New Zealand has also been successful – so much so, that later this year another of our daily services (that via Melbourne) will also become an A380 flight.
'New Zealanders are not only over-achievers when it comes to travel – they excel when it comes to sport, as well. And the fact that New Zealand is lining up once again among the America’s Cup challengers says it all,' Mr Chapman concluded.
Emirates’ Commitment to Sailing
Emirates has been a sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand since 2004 and looks forward to supporting them throughout their build-up to the 2013 Louis Vuitton Cup, the event which will determine which team challenges for the 34th America’s Cup in San Francisco with AC72 catamarans. The team has also been competing in build-up events, the America’s Cup World Series, with smaller AC45 catamarans, and finished runner-up in the 2011-2012 series. In addition, the team competed as Camper with Emirates Team New Zealand in The Volvo Ocean Race, which got under way in Alicante, Spain, in October 2011 and took in nine stops en route to the finishing line at Galway, Ireland, in June 2012. The boat finished second overall in this round-world event.