On a cool winter’s evening at Auckland’s Viaduct Harbour, an audience of more than 6000 watched skipper Dean Barker’s wife Mandy splash the yacht with champagne.
Simultaneously, flames gas lines around the yacht and fireworks lit the sky as 18 months of work by the design and build teams were revealed for all to see.
Mandy Barker named the cat “New Zealand” - team member’s acknowledgment of their gratitude for the country’s support through the difficult times since Valencia in 2007.
Team managing directorGrant Dalton said the night could not have happened with the support of theGovernment and sponsors who backed the team with such enthusiasm.
“New Zealanders should be proud that their team attracts the support of these major international companies,” Dalton said.
“The same can be said for the international designers, engineers and analysts who augmented our design team.“We are proud of what we have achieved so far, working in a tin shed in Auckland.
“We carry the New Zealand flag sponsors’ brands proudly and pledge that the mission of every member of this team is to bring the America’s Cup back to New Zealand.”
As the countdown to the big moment got underway Prime Minster John Key, Auckland Mayor Len Brown and sponsor representatives were led to the yacht by a Maori warrior.
With the yacht in the background, 1000 people pulled on a hemp rope to “load” the catapult which smashed the champagne bottle and sprayed the boat.
It was a proud moment for the team and signalled the beginning of the next stage of preparations for the 2013 America’s Cup.
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