Black boat goes in

But is completely skirted up

Tuesday August 27th 2002, Author: Tean New Zealand, Location: Australasia
Shrouded in deck-to-waterline skirts, Team New Zealand's first new boat was a picture of modesty as it was launched to huge fanfare in the American Express Viaduct Harbour on Monday evening. Thousands of guests and members of the public braved the cold weather to witness the launching of what skipper Dean Barker described as "our best boat ever".

NZL-81 is expected to wear modesty skirts on the hour-long tow to and from the Hauraki Gulf, signalling the yacht has secrets to protect. Certainly, it was not revealing much in the dark of the night. But, if the team is keeping the boat as much under wraps as possible, there was no mistaking the upbeat mood of the sailors and the guests who gathered to witness the event.

Proceedings started in an atmosphere of mystery, with the yacht sliding away from the Team New Zealand compound and emerging through a pall of generated smoke to the sounds of the theme music from the movie Jaws .

A string of lights outlined the profile of the yacht and rig, as it ghosted across the basin to tie up in front of a large marquee where the guests had gathered. Music continued to play a significant role as New Zealand artist Dave Dobbyn gave a rousing version of his song Loyal. This has become the Team New Zealand battle song, a rallying cry for those who resisted the lure of big money offers to join rival syndicates. "The feeling in the team is one of determination mixed with enthusiasm for the job ahead," Barker told the crowd.

An emotional highpoint of the evening was when Lady Blake, widow of the late Sir Peter Blake, exploded a giant bottle of Steinlager beer over the bow and named the yacht New Zealand. Team New Zealand's second yacht, NZL-82, is scheduled to be launched in about eight weeks.

Lady Pippa Blake, christens NZL-81

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