Kiwis Launch AC Test Boat

Introducing Te Aihe’s Mini Me

America’s Cup Defender Emirates Team New Zealand revealed their new custom-designed and built test boat yesterday in Auckland. Te Kāhu, meaning ‘The Hawk’, was named and christened by Ngāti Whātua Ōrākei, a local sub-tribe of Maori.

Crowd of ETNZ team members
In their black logowear, the team gathered to witness the launch of Te Kāhu.
© 2020 Emirates Team New Zealand

Te Kāhu fits within the rules for test yachts according to the 36th America’s Cup Protocol. They must not exceed 12 meters (40 feet) length overall. The team will use this foiling monohull to continue design development during 2020. Meanwhile, they will ship their AC75, Te Aihe, to Europe (a 60-day journey). They’ll race her in the America’s Cup World Series in Cagliari, Sardinia, on April 23-26, and Portsmouth, UK on June 4-7.

The Challengers’ test boats started hitting the water all the way back in September 2018. ETNZ’s CEO Grant Dalton explains: “It might seem like the launch of our test boat is a bit overdue, but early in any campaign, decisions have to be made that ultimately will only be judged at the end. As a team, we decided that a test boat was indeed a really key necessity but believed it needed to have as much design input as our first AC75 to give it meaningful ongoing development possibilities.” The team launched their AC75 on September 4, 2019.

Te Kahu on the crane
Te Kāhu (showing her outsized foils) on the crane at ETNZ’s team base in Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour.
© 2020 Emirates Team New Zealand

The Kiwis are now in the process of packing up and preparing Te Aihe (whose name means ‘Dolphin’) for shipping to Cagliari. The first ACWS event will be the next time the AC75 will be sailed, and the first time it will race against the other AC75s.

“We are really excited about launching Te Kāhu today,” said Grant Dalton. “There has been a lot of work gone into the design and build of this boat internally, which is amazing really, as it has all taken place between the design and build of our first AC75 and the ongoing work on our next AC75 race boat.”

The Protocol allows teams to launch their second AC75 on February 1. We don’t believe any of them will be ready to do so that soon. The Long Beach YC team, Stars + Stripes Team USA, a late entry, has yet to launch their first boat. We’ll have much more on all of this in the February issue of Latitude 38, which will launch on January 31.

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