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America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ takes AC75 build in-house

by Suzanne McFadden 8 Dec 2019 21:07 PST 9 December 2019
Te Aihe, Emirates Team New Zealand's first AC75 being launched outside the team's base in the America's Cup Village, Auckland © Richard Gladwell /

America's Cup defenders Emirates Team New Zealand have done things differently by building their own boats for the first time, and so far, it's paying off.

Sometime this week - if Huey, the sailors’ god of the wind and waves, obliges - 40 boat builders will venture out on to the Hauraki Gulf to watch their exceptional creation fly.

For many of them, this will be the first time they have seen Te Aihe, the dolphin – Emirates Team New Zealand’s first AC75 boat – in full flight.

Since October last year, the craftsmen have been head-down, tail-up in the bespoke boatyard that Team NZ set up on Auckland’s North Shore (its exact whereabouts is a closely guarded secret, protecting it from prying eyes and drones).

Geoff Senior, the team’s construction manager, will be like a proud dad.

“You never lose that excitement when you first see the boat in the water,” he says.

“That’s why it’s important to show everyone who built the boat what it looks like sailing. There’s a big difference between the boat we completed here [in the yard] and when it’s actually sailing.

“It will be an enormous boost for the guys. I’m really proud of them and what they’ve achieved.”

But don’t think for a moment that these boat builders can now sit back and watch the fruit of their labours at play. There’s a second boat to build before the 2021 America’s Cup, and their workload is swelling.

The Team NZ building crew with their masterpiece, Te Aihe, before it left the yard on the North Shore. Photo: Hamish Hooper, ETNZ The defenders of the Auld Mug have done things differently this time around. It’s the first time Team NZ have built their own boat – and hired their own boat builders to do the job.

It means the team have more control over the build. And as chief operating officer Kevin Shoebridge explains, it gives them the manpower to create something quickly, without having to wait for a commercial yard to fit the work in. “We can change the plan overnight, and just do it,” he says.

But the quality of the build remains the same. Many of the team have come from the Cookson Boats yard, which built all eight of Team NZ’s boats between 2000 and 2013.

The team snapped up many of the boat builders after the Cookson family closed the doors on their once-thriving business.

For the rest of this story click here.

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