Team New Zealand choose their weapon

And it is NZL82

Monday February 10th 2003, Author: Louis Vuitton, Location: Australasia
Team New Zealand's designers and sailing team have chosen NZL-82, the latest black boat to be built, as its race boat for the best-of-nine America's Cup Match against Alinghi.

The Defender and the Challenger for the America's Cup can nominate just one boat for the Match. The Swiss challenger, Alinghi, must race SUI-64, the boat it sailed to victory in the Louis Vuitton Cup.

Team New Zealand principal designer Mike Drummond says there was little to choose from between NZL-82 and her older sister NZL-81 when making the final decision.

"We created both boats with some deliberate differences," he said. "After a while of sailing them together we decided we preferred '82' to race against Alinghi."

Skipper Dean Barker says he would have been happy to race either of the boats. "They're a little different, but they're both very good boats," he said.

In recent weeks, Barker has been at the wheel of NZL-82 for in-house racing against Team New Zealand back-up helmsman Bertrand Pacé, on NZL-81. But the skipper says he was happy to swap between the two boats during trialing over the last four months.

"From day one the boats were nice to sail," he said. "The most nerve wracking time is when you first put any new boat in the water. You always hope they aren't going to be slower than the last boat. That wasn't an easy task as NZL-60 was a very fast boat. Well, we're happy to say, 81 and 82 certainly aren't slower."

Unveiling day begins early on Tuesday. Team Alinghi will reveal the latest configuration of SUI-64 at 08:00 at the Alinghi Base in the American Express Viaduct Harbour. Gates open to the public at 07:45.

The gates to the Team New Zealand base will open at 08.45 on Tuesday morning. The public will be able to see the NZL-81 in all its glory before it leaves the dock around 10.30.

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