T -5 days to launch
Auckland's public will get a chance to physically play a part in the official launch of Emirates Team New Zealand's first America's Cup catamaran next Saturday.
Although details of how they will be involved are - like the boat - being kept under wraps, the Kiwi syndicate is urging spectators to arrive in the Viaduct Harbour early for the 5.45pm "show" on July 21.
"The first few hundred [people] will have the opportunity to be part of the launch crew," Team NZ boss Grant Dalton says.
The launch of the AC72 wingsailed cat - the first of two that will be built for next year's America's Cup challenge - is the culmination of more than 50,000 hours of design time and 65,000 hours' build time.
Over the past few weeks, the 22m long, 16m wide multihull has been pieced together, like a Lego model, under cover at the team base in Halsey St. More than 30 designers have worked on the project since the end of 2010, with the building process getting underway last August.
"We have been working towards this day for 18 months. Until now we have said very little about the AC72 project and we have shown even less," Dalton says.
"The design and build work has gone ahead behind closed doors. Now it's time to share their creation with New Zealand."
The launch, which includes the ceremonial smashing of a champagne bottle on one of the boat's bows, will be free to the public. Most of the action will take place on the water by the Halsey St wharf and the base.
If the weather is bad, the launch will be held over until Sunday evening.