Team New Zealand boss Grant Dalton will crew on his syndicate's giant new America's Cup catamaran.
The radical AC72 was christened "New Zealand" at an elaborate ceremony in Auckland's Viaduct Basin last night.
TNZ hopes to have it out on the water this week to begin trials and development testing.
It will also be a trial of sorts for Dalton, who is out to belie his 55 years and play his part on a craft that will be more physically demanding than anything sport's oldest trophy has thrown up since the cup was first contested in 1851.
Dalton describes his role as a “utility grinder”.
Naturally, he will also be part of the on-board brains trust, but he's working overtime in the gym to perform in one of the toughest roles on the boat, alongside the likes of former Olympic gold medallist single sculler Rob Waddell, who is a grinder among the crew of 11.
“The athleticism required is going to be like we haven't seen before, particularly aerobically. The training requirements have been pretty rigorous,” Dalton said.
“If I think I can't handle it I will pull out. I will know myself and [skipper] Dean Barker will certainly tell me.”
But Dalton believes being on board is crucial for his chief executive's role as New Zealand looks to win back the Auld Mug in San Francisco next year.
“Unless I'm sailing it's hard to be meaningful in meetings and with the learnings of this boat and the makeup of the crew going forward,” he said.
Dalton admitted there was a mixture of nerves and excitement as they get set to finally play with their new toy.
They needed to make quick assessments as they continue research and development for their second catamaran which is already “well into design” and “not far” from the building stage. Dalton believed reaching 40 knots wouldn't be a problem.
The wind limits for cup racing have been placed at 33 knots at this stage although Dalton is “highly doubtful” they can be raced in that wind.
“These boats will be terrifying in a big breeze,” he said.
TNZ are allowed 30 days of testing on the new boat before January 31, a ruling designed to even the playing field for the four syndicates involved.
“Everyone is up against the wall time-wise,” Dalton said.
He said they would have to choose their days wisely and maximise them in terms of hours out on the Hauraki Gulf.
- Sunday Star Times
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