Friday September 24th 2004, Author: Peter Rusch, Location: none selectedThe second Emirates Team New Zealand race boat, NZL-81, landed safely in Valencia early in the afternoon on Friday after a long trip from Auckland, New Zealand. The boat is a replacement for NZL-82, which was seriously damaged in a storm in Marseille after Act 1.
The logistical hurdles for bringing NZL-81 to Spain in time for the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts 2 and 3 were immense. There are very few transport mechanisms for boats of this size, especially to take them halfway around the planet, but the Short Belfast aircraft operated by Heavy Lift Cargo Airline, was up to the task. The loading of NZL-81 in Auckland, New Zealand, into the cargo hold of the plane took over four hours, with the boat having just millimetres of clearance in height and along each side. The aircraft has a limited range, and was forced to stop five times for refuelling, in Darwin, Singapore, Colombo, Dubai, and Crete.
But at 13:00 on Friday afternoon, the plane touched down at Valencia airport, and the delicate unloading operation began immediately. NZL-81 was slowly pulled out from the rear cargo hold, until its cradle was on the ground. The plane was then moved away in the opposite direction, allowing the cranes room to lift the boat, and place it on a trailer. NZL-81 will be transported Friday afternoon by truck to the team base in the Port of Valencia, where the Emirates Team New Zealand shore crew can begin work to prepare the boat for racing.
When NZL-82 was damaged after the Marseille Louis Vuitton Act, the outlook was bleak for Emirates Team New Zealand to compete in Acts 2 and 3. With his boat still on its side, resting on a shipping container which had breached the hull, Grant Dalton, the managing director of the team said at the time that it would nearly be impossible for his team to race in Valencia in just three weeks time. However, he added, “but you know, it would be crazy to count the Kiwis out completely.”
True to his word, Emirates Team New Zealand is now on track to race in Act 2, beginning on the 5th of October. The boat still needs some work before it can be sailed; all of the electronics, hydraulics, and winches must be installed. The keel, bulb and rigging have to be attached, and the boat must be tuned. But Dalton is confident they’ll be ready to race.
“We’re extremely pleased to be in Valencia,” Dalton said on Friday afternoon from New Zealand after he was informed the plane had landed safely. “We’re not ready yet. We’ve got five days to complete the boat and get on the water as we want to sail on the 1st of October. The entire shore crew is in Valencia now; we’ll have 15 guys working to do whatever it takes until the boat is complete, and ready to sail.
“This entire operation has been a logistical challenge. We would like to thank AC Management, all of our partners, and the airline, for helping us get into a position to be on the starting line on the 5th of October.”
Emirates Team New Zealand will join seven other teams in racing in the Valencia Louis Vuitton Acts 2 and 3. The Defender of the America’s Cup, Team Alinghi, and the Challenger of Record, BMW Oracle Racing, along with K-Challenge, le Defi, Team Shosholoza, Luna Rossa and +39, make up the eight boat fleet. Racing begins with the Valencia Louis Vuitton Act 2, a match racing regatta, on 5 October.