Team New Zealand christen new America's Cup boat

Emirates Team New Zealand’s new AC75 sailing on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Photo: James Somerset...
Emirates Team New Zealand’s new AC75 sailing on Auckland’s Hauraki Gulf. Photo: James Somerset via RNZ
After three years of design, innovation and build work, Team New Zealand have launched Taihoro - the boat they will sail in their defence of the 37th America's Cup.

The AC75 was gifted the name Taihoro by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei at a ceremony in Auckland on Thursday.

Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei Trust chairperson Marama Royal said the meaning behind the name was inspired from Taihoro-Nukurangi, and translates to "to move swiftly as the sea between both sky and earth".

"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 symbolised the boat's evolutionary journey. It represented a transcendence of traditional boundaries, creating a connection between the sea and sky, she said.

The boat was christened by former New Zealand prime minister and Team New Zealand patron Helen Clark.

Team New Zealand's head of construction Geoff Senior had overseen the build of the boat which started over 10 months ago in the purpose-built Team New Zealand boat-building yard, with 45 boat-builders working throughout, totalling more than 85,000 hours to complete.

"This has been a hugely technical boat build for the construction team," Senior said.

"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 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.

Team New Zealand chief executive officer Grant Dalton said at the ceremony it was a proud occasion for everyone in the team.

"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 Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei 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.

"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 percent focus is on Taihoro and working through our ongoing development programme 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."

The countdown was well and truly on to the start of racing in Barcelona on August 22.

Team New Zealand's boat for the last campaign in Auckland, Te Rehutahi, signed off in October last year. The winning boat was used as a development tool for the 37th America's Cup testing programme.