Team Dennis Conner christened and launched Stars & Stripes, USA-77 yesterday at a ceremony held at the team's training compound in Long Beach, California. 300 corporate sponsors, New York Yacht Club members, family and friends attended the celebration, which marks the next phase of Conner's America's Cup challenge.
"There were a lot of smiles on a lot of faces today," said Dennis Conner after his wife Daintry blessed USA-77 by smashing a bottle of Moet Brut Imperial over the bow. "This day symbolises how committed myself, our team, the New York Yacht Club and our corporate sponsors are to bringing the Cup home to America. It has been my dream for 20 years to win the Cup and return it to the east coast.
"With these new boats and our veteran crew of American sailors, I feel this is one of the best campaigns I've ever put together. The bare hull of USA-77 just left Newport, Rhode Island two weeks ago and here she is going sailing today, which is true testament to how hard our whole team has worked to make this day possible."
Until today, the team has been training in southern California for four months with Stars & Stripes USA-66, which was launched in February, and their trial horse, USA-54. The two new Stars & Stripes boats, which look remarkably similar, will begin their two-boat testing phase this week through the end of July, when the team will relocate to Auckland, New Zealand.
"Thanks to our sponsors and many New York Yacht Club members who have helped fund our team, I firmly believe we will be very competitive with the other
challengers," continued Conner. "This is a very special day for Daintry and I along with the rest of our team, which is our extended family."