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11 February 2003

America's Cup defending champions Team New Zealand keel unveiling ceremony

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Team New Zealand today unveiled their final keel configuration prior to the first America's Cup race, which is scheduled to start in Auckland's Hauraki Gulf this coming Saturday.

Like challenger Alinghi, Team New Zealand did not make any major changes to their keel, though their secret weapon, the "hula" (hull appendage) that is intended to create a curve towards the back of the boat for more speed remained a prominent feature. Team New Zealand's keel bore a striking orange flame motif along with the OMEGA brand name and symbol, recalling along the 20-tonne lead bulb at the bottom that OMEGA is the Official Timekeeper of the America's Cup.



In front of a large crowd of onlookers, Team New Zealand skipper and OMEGA ambassador Dean Barker posed next to the keel for the numerous photographers present. Barker also met Richie Jen, a famous Chinese TV star and singer. Jen, an OMEGA ambassador for China, has expressed a keen interest in the America's Cup and will be staying in Auckland for the first two races.



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