USA 98 reaches Auckland
The high-tech 24-metre-long racing yacht departed from BMW Oracle Racing’s custom building facility in Anacortes, WA, USA, before Christmas via truck and container ship for the trans-Pacific voyage to Tauranga, New Zealand. USA 98 completed the journey to Auckland by road in the pre-dawn hours today. The race yacht is now being prepared for sailing on the Hauraki Gulf.
"USA 98 is the result of more than three years of R&D and the culmination of all we learned from our first new boat, USA 87, in the 2006 sailing season," said BMW Oracle Racing CEO and Skipper Chris Dickson. "This new boat represents the best thinking from our BMW Oracle Racing design and sailing teams. We’ve managed to incorporate all of the developments that we have realised in our technical and on-the-water programme with USA 71, USA 76, and USA 87. The next step is to let the sailing team work with USA 98 to get the most out of her on the race course. The time for testing is over - it is the Year of the Cup and time for racing."
The BMW Oracle Racing boat-building and shore teams are now fitting the appendages and preparing the mast for the new race yacht. The boat will be launched for the first time next week and then the sailing team will conduct sea trials before race training begins. The 2003-generation USA 71 will serve as the trial horse for the new race yacht. The team will focus on crew preparation for the 2007 Cup season with an intensive sailing programme over the next 5 weeks.
"The fastest way we know to get our new yacht sailing to full potential is racing and our in-house racing programme will accelerate this process," Dickson said. "It’s great to finally be in race mode. Our team has been working hard at this for three years and the focus is purely on winning the upcoming races. We intend to leave New Zealand in February with our race crew and our newest race boat in top form. We will then continue tuning-up in Valencia with USA 87.
"It’s been a long road and all of the hard work comes down to the next 15 weeks until the start of the Louis Vuitton Cup in April in Valencia," Dickson said. "We know we face some tough competition among the Challengers and ultimately the Defender Alinghi. We are confident and ready for the Year of the Cup."