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America's Cup: Emirates Team NZ launch Defender in torrential rain

by Emirates Team New Zealand 18 Apr 06:35 PDT 19 April 2024
Emirates Team New Zealand new AC75 christened, in torrential rain, by former NZ Prime Minister and Patron of ETNZ, Helen Clark - April 2024 © Emirates Team NZ

In a stirring ceremony on Thursday, Iwi manaaki Ngati Whatua Orakei gifted and blessed the name ‘Taihoro’ on the boat that Emirates Team New Zealand will sail in their defence of the 37th America’s Cup. The launch event took place, in torrential rain, at the Team's base in Auckland’s Wynyard Point, witnessed by friends, family, Sponsors, and Suppliers.

Marama Royal, Chair of the Ngati Whatua Orakei Trust, elaborated on the profound meaning behind the name ‘Taihoro’ which was inspired from Taihoro-Nukurangi, and translates to “To move swiftly as the sea between both sky and earth.” She explained, “Taihoro-Nukurangi captures the dynamic essence of the sea (Tai), the concept of speed (Horo), the earth's movement (Nuku), and the expanse of the sky (Rangi).”

'Taihoro' symbolises the boat’s evolutionary journey. It represents a transcendence of traditional boundaries, creating a connection between the sea and sky. This vessel is more than a mere craft; it harnesses the power of nature, seamlessly transitioning between realms. 'Taihoro' is not just traversing the ocean; it bridges the gap between sea and sky in its quest for victory.”

'Taihoro' was proudly christened by former New Zealand Prime Minister and Emirates Team New Zealand Patron Helen Clark. 'Taihoro' encompasses all of the design, innovation and build work by the entire Team over the past three years.

Geoff Senior, Emirates Team New Zealand’s Head of Construction has overseen the build of the boat which started over 10 months ago in the purpose-built Emirates Team New Zealand boat building yard with 45 boat builders working throughout, totalling over 85,000 hours to complete.

“This has been a hugely technical boat build for the construction team.” said Senior.

“The design team have certainly pushed the envelope with the design of 'Taihoro' which has tested our build team the whole way through. But we are so lucky to have such experience in our boat building team who are some of the best in the business. This is probably the 14th Emirates Team New Zealand boat that some of them have built. In saying this, at the other end of the spectrum, we are really proud to have also had 10 boat building apprentices in the ranks that have been training throughout the build also.”

'Taihoro' was transported weeks ago to the Emirates Team New Zealand base under the cover of darkness and has since been subject to a comprehensive fit out by the technical hydraulic, mechatronic, electronic and shore crew teams custom fitting the thousands of components and systems ready to hand over to the sailing team to begin its commissioning and sea trials which have been undertaken on Auckland harbour over the past week.

“These moments are always especially proud occasions for everyone in the team.” said Emirates Team New Zealand CEO Grant Dalton.

“So much of what the team does has to be kept secret from friends and family for obvious reasons and the work involves a huge amount of dedication, commitment, and time. So, it is always special to share the result of that effort with them at our home base naming and presenting 'Taihoro' in partnership with Ngati Whatua Orakei who again have given our boat a really special and meaningful identity.

This is the boat which we will take to Barcelona to defend the Americas’ Cup for New Zealand later this year and the name 'Taihoro' helps us to carry our identity to Barcelona and to share our country’s innovation and culture on the world stage.”

Skipper Peter Burling has been at the helm as 'Taihoro' has been commissioned over the past week having been rolled out of the shed on Friday last week.

“This is a really exciting time, as the different America’s Cup teams have been rolling out of their sheds. Obviously there is a lot of interest in what each other’s boats look like, but our 100% focus is on 'Taihoro' and working through our ongoing development program getting it up to speed.

We don’t have long sailing in Auckland before we start shipping up to Barcelona, so it is an intense but exciting time for the team.”

Emirates have been supporting the team for 20 years since 2004 as proud naming Sponsor of the team, their brand across on the mainsail and positioned on the hull just forward of the name ‘Taihoro’.

Boutros Boutros, Executive Vice President Corporate Communications, Marketing & Brand for Emirates Airline, commented on the newly named boat: “Emirates is proud to support the team’s further defence of the 37th edition of the America’s Cup. With cutting-edge technology and advanced aerodynamics rolled out for ‘Taihoro’, and the exceptional talent of the team, we’re confident they will maintain their winning legacy and bring home the coveted trophy later this year.”

Among all of the close friends of the Team at the naming ceremony was long time and proud sponsor Toyota New Zealand and their CEO Neeraj Lala who was seeing ‘Taihoro’ for the very first time.

"As Emirates Team New Zealand prepares to compete in Barcelona, we stand proudly behind the team, knowing they carry not just our brand, but the support of New Zealanders nationwide. We wish the team every success as they strive to retain the Cup, marking a milestone of over 30 years partnership with Toyota New Zealand. We're excited to continue our collaboration with Emirates Team New Zealand for the 37th America's Cup. This longstanding relationship underscores our shared commitment to innovation and sustainability, exemplified by our joint efforts in developing hydrogen-powered chase boats.”

As has become accustomed, emblazoned across the red bow is Omega who, since 1995 have shared an enduring passion for innovation and design with Emirates Team New Zealand declaring, “This new AC75 is another stunning example of their dedication to their world class design and sailing precision, and we’re so proud to continue our support of the crew in this exciting America’s Cup year.”

The bold gold star of Estrella Damm proudly sits on the mainsail, the world famous beer brand returning as official Sponsor of Emirates Team New Zealand now the America’s Cup is taking place in Spain once again. “We are delighted to be back in partnership with Emirates Team New Zealand, renewing a bond that goes back seventeen years to our collaboration in Valencia during the 2007 America's Cup. That unique experience laid the foundation for a robust and enduring relationship, resulting in the recent announcement of our sponsorship of the New Zealand team.” said Jorge Villavecchia, CEO of Damm

“Barcelona, the city where we began 148 years ago and which, through our products, we export to over 130 countries around the world, will this year host one of the most prestigious global sporting events. We have been working hard all this time to make this dream come true. We are looking forward to enjoying one of the world’s greatest sailing contests, which will place our city in the international spotlight.”

The countdown is well and truly on to the start of racing in Barcelona on August 22nd- just 126 days to go.

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