Independence day launch

USA-76, Oracle's second ACC boat gets dipped in Auckland

Thursday July 4th 2002, Author: Joanna Ingley, Location: United States

In the United States of America, the fourth of July is a day to celebrate in remembrance of those who toiled for independence in 1776. On the very same day, 226 years later, the Oracle Racing Team hosted an intimate christening ceremony in Auckland celebrating on behalf of those team members who worked tirelessly to build the team's latest generation 2003 America's Cup Class (ACC) sailboat, USA-76.

USA-76 was welcomed to the team in an all out team effort, only three weeks after her sister boat, USA-71, was launched.

During today's ceremony, the team paid special tribute to each individual member of the dedicated 26-person boat building team as they stood before a cheering group of family and co-workers.

Led by Oracle Racing's three Boat building managers, including Richard Gillies, Tim Smyth and Mark Turner, the boat building team worked 80-hour weeks in a Ventura, California boatyard to complete the two sleek, charcoal gray racing hulls.

Both USA-71 and USA-76 were built using female moulds - a process rarely used in the America's Cup. New technology in the plug milling and the mould making processes has resulted in two of the fairest hulls some of Oracle Racing's designers and other team members have ever seen.

For Tim Smyth, the results of all their efforts during the complex boat building process was extremely gratifying.

"The end results are awesome," he said. "Of all the America's Cup boats we have built in our careers, we have never seen anything like these boats."

"With boat builders you can often get a disparate bunch of people thrown together," Smyth said. "But most of us have worked together on and off over the last decade, so we have a great core group of people."

Mark Turner also paid tribute to the efforts of the Oracle Racing Shore Team members.

"The shore team and boatbuilders work in unison, and their efforts are imperative to our success. They can stand extremely tall today, because they have had an incredible impact on today's achievement," said Turner.

During the formalities Oracle Racing's Chief Operating Officer, Bill Erkelens, acknowledged the outstanding craftsmanship of the new-generation sailboats made possible by the long hours and the absolute dedication given by each of the boat builders.

"The steering bulkheads in USA-71 and USA-76 have been signed by all of the boat builders, a symbol representing the enormous pride they took in their work," said Erkelens.

Oracle Racing's Legal Counsel, Melinda Erkelens, once again successfully carried out the christening tradition, breaking the champagne bottle across the bow of USA-76 in the intimate celebration by the Oracle Racing Team and their families.

The two new sailboats should both be in the water soon to engage in an intense in-house racing program for the final prelude prior to the Louis Vuitton Cup Challenger Series.

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