Team New Zealand launched their second America's Cup catamaran in Auckland today though high winds prevented it being put in the water.
A private ceremony that included a blessing from the Auckland iwi Ngati Whatua was capped by Mandy Smith, wife of TNZ skipper Dean Barker, pouring champagne over one of the hulls and christening it New Zealand Aotearoa.
TNZ hope to have the catamaran out on the water for the first of the sea trial on Thursday.
With a northerly gusting up to 30 knots today, TNZ boss Grant Dalton said: "I'm not going to push my luck any further."
That left the 22 metre (72-foot) monster on her cradles on the TNZ compound in the Viaduct Basin.
It's an impressive sight and this is the boat that will carry New Zealand's hopes into the Louis Vuitton Cup challenger elimination series and hopefully the America's Cup in San Francisco later in the year.
The build for the second generation AC72 has involved about 60,000 hours with 50,000 hours going into the design.
Dalton said that while the changes would appear subtle to the untrained eye, he described them as "dramatic" in moving this boat forward from the original which completed its testing programme before Christmas with plenty of satisfaction in the Kiwi camp.
Italians rivals and training partners Luna Rossa were on hand to witness the launch.
TNZ are now allowed 45 days of sailing before May 1 under America's Cup rules.
But the reality is, their time is far shorter than that.
They will sail until about the second week of April before their entire base is packed up and shipped to San Francisco on April 28.
Dalton said computer numbers pointed to gains with the new boat and it was now a matter of confirming that on the water.
The team would also continue "alterations and evolution" because the tight time frame made that a necessity as all four teams involved in the contest looked for gains with this radical new design.
He said that uncertainty made him nervous but excited.
"It's another step towards what we hope will be a milestone day," Dalton said, looking forward as New Zealand tries to recapture sport's oldest trophy.
- © Fairfax NZ News
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