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Cup battle to fill Rodney's sails

DELWYN DICKEY
Last updated 05:00 16/09/2010
MUG

CAT FIGHT: Preparing mini-versions of the America's Cup catamarans in Warkworth are BMW Oracle Warkworth finance manager Simon Ward, left, and foreman Ben Hanley. Both are Kiwis.

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The battle for the Auld Mug will be good for Rodney.

Monday's announcement that the 34th America's Cup in 2013 will be fought in AC72 22-metre wingsail catamarans brought consternation to some of the teams expected to compete but will help put Warkworth on the nautical map.

BMW Oracle has been upgrading a vacant Warkworth factory it bought in 2008 to produce carbon-fibre racing yachts.

It is here six AC45 catamarans will be built, the prototype likely to be trialled in Rodney by Christmas, Warkworth team finance manager Simon Ward says.

AC45 stands for America's Cup class 45 footer, a 13.7-metre version of the cup catamarans for a world series in 2011. Many of the team members are New Zealanders.

Warkworth is pleasant for workers and visitors and with designer Tim Smyth living locally there were many good reasons to set up there, Mr Ward says.

Cup rules mean some major components of the new AC72 boats can be made here. But hulls must be built in the country of origin – the United States.

The Warkworth facility has 18 workers, expected to increase with local contractors used as much as possible.

It will also make other yachts and composite products like wind turbine blades.

The AC45 world series venue is unknown, but the distance from Warkworth won't be a problem with the catamarans light enough to be disassembled and flown there.

The America's Cup venue could be either San Francisco, home of defender the Golden Gate Yacht Club, or Rome.

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